Should You Buy a Used Car from the Classifieds ?

Buying a used car from the classifieds may get you a bargain – or it may get you ripped off.

When you see what appears to be a good buy, approach it carefully. Some questions may be in order during your first phone call to establish the credibility of the seller. It’s not a good idea to buy from a curbstone dealer. Never heard of one?

A curbstoner is someone who buys cars especially to resell them. He is not licensed and is operating illegally. If you buy a car from him and find it’s a heap of junk, you’ll have no chance to rectify the matter or get restitution. You may find it impossible to transfer the title to your name. These people should be reported immediately to the Department of Motor Vehicles. But how do you identify a curbstoner?

  • * The car will mostly be parked along the street rather than at his house. * He will arrange a meeting at some other place than his house.
  • * He will ask for a cash transaction.
  • * The title of the car will not be in his name.

Of course, not all classifieds will be a curbstoner. There are many honest people out there who want to sell their car. But they may not want to tell you exactly why they are selling it. Mostly, people don’t want to sell a car they are still happy with. So what are some important things to find out your first phone call?

  • * Does he own the car and if so, how long has he had it for.
  • * Find out the mileage when he bought it and now.
  • * Where/how has the car been driven, eg, long trips or just around town.
  • * Ask if there has been any major repairs done and when.
  • * Ask to see the receipt of those repairs when you go to look.
  • * Find out if he bought the car new and why he wants to sell it.
  • * Ask if it has ever been repainted. If so, there could be a rust problem.
  • * Make sure he has the title.
  • * Find out what the car needs to put it in top shape.
  • * Ask if he is a dealer.

When you go to look at the car, take a friend along for a second opinion. Check everything you can think of and take it for a test-drive. Look at the numbers on the odometer. If they do not line up, it is a sign that it has been rolled back. Make sure you get all the papers you need to title the vehicle. You only have a limited number days to do so before getting a fine, which can increases if you wait.


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