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How To Avoid Scams When Using The Craigslist Used Cars Site

by craigscars


If you are in the market for a previously owned vehicle, Craigslist has become a popular community for car buyers to find great deals on great vehicles. In today’s turbulent economy, several individuals are letting go of their extra vehicles for immediate cash. Because they have an immediate need, they are willing to sell their vehicles well below Kelley Blue Book value.

While Craigslist is perhaps the best resource to find used cars in your area, there are individuals who choose to prey on the weak. When you walk into the car buying process on Craigslist, it is important to know how to avoid scams when using the Craigslist used cars site. Below are a few valuable tips to make sure your dream car will not become a nightmare. Do not fall victim to these scams and invest in a car that will last you for many years.

Never Send Money Before You Drive the Car

When you search Craigslist, chances are you come across almost new cars that are selling for just a few thousand dollars. Many times these listings are fraudulent. There is no harm in emailing the listing party to obtain more information. If you receive a reply stating that the car is out of the country and they need to sell it immediately for a discounted price, run away. These “sellers” are scam artists that require you to send an electronic payment to them before the car is “shipped”. Once you send the money, you never hear from them again. Not only are you out thousands of dollars, you also have no car. Never wire money for a vehicle you have not seen in person.

Ask to See the Title

While the first tip may seem obvious, the following tips on how to avoid scams when using the Craigslist used cars site are often overlooked and can lead to several problems. Most of the used vehicles for sale on Craigslist are owned. This means the owner holds the title to the vehicle. When you set up an appointment to view the vehicle, ask to see the title. You should do this for several different reasons. For one, when you see the title you can inspect it to make sure there is not a finance company listed. If the vehicle is financed and you purchase it from the individual, you could run into problems registering the vehicle and you could be required to pay off the loan before you can transfer the title. Also, the title will state whether or not the vehicle is salvage. A salvaged vehicle has been involved in a serious accident where it was considered a total loss. Obtaining insurance on salvaged vehicles can be extremely difficult.

Ask for the VIN

You should always ask for the VIN of the vehicle you are considering. If the owner has nothing to hide, they should be more than willing to provide you with the VIN so that you can verify you are making a good purchase. When you have the VIN, start by running a vehicle report on the car. Carfax charges about $30 per report and it will provide you with information on repairs, accidents, and the amount of times ownership has changed with the vehicle. A trustworthy seller will tell you if the vehicle has been involved in a collision. Unfortunately, in society not everyone is trustworthy. Carfax is a great resource to protect your better interests.

When you have the VIN you can also contact the DMV to verify the vehicle’s registration is in good standing. Some individuals will sell their vehicles because they cannot afford to pay registration and parking tickets. While you would think these tickets would follow the owner, they actually follow the vehicle. This means that any overdue fees on the vehicle will need to be paid before you can register it. Make sure to contact the DMV to verify registration fees and tickets before purchasing the vehicle.

Smog, Smog, Smog

Sellers are responsible for providing a certificate of passed smog. If the vehicle does not pass smog, you will have to pay for repairs out of your own pocket if the seller did not provide you with a certificate. Many times, the cost to repair the vehicle could be much more than its value. Always ask for a smog certificate before you purchase the vehicle.

While all of these tips focus on the negative aspects of buying a vehicle on Craigslist, there are definitely honest sellers posting their vehicles. Do your research and make an informed decision. When you find the right car, you will feel good about your purchase.

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