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Location: Home » Buying & Selling Vehicles » Used Car Buying Guide » Private Party Used Car Buying Checklist
Page Summary: Private Party Used Car Buying Checklist

Used Car Buying Checklist when Buying from a Private Owner

  1. Allow enough time to research the cars, trade-in values and lenders. You want to watch prices for a couple months prior to purchasing.
  2. Change your printer ribbon and fill the paper tray. You will want to print all online ads, messages and contracts of any site you use.
  3. Determine how much you can afford for your new car purchase with our Car Buying Budget.
  4. Research your Financing Options. Once you find a car and want to make an over you need your financing to be pre-approved and ready.
  5. Research potential cars based on your wishes and budget. Start watching online ads, classified ads and flyers at grocery stores. You may even want to ask friends and relatives if they are considering a car purchase in the near future.
  6. Study the owner satisfaction and safety reviews of your favorites in Kelly Blue Book , Edmonds or Consumer Reports .
  7. Once your preferred vehicle appears in the classifieds, research the Private Party Value in Kelly Blue Book and Call the seller and use our Inspecting & Driving the Car Checklist.
  8. Run a Vehicle History Report before driving to look at the vehicle.
  9. Visit the Seller and inspect the vehicle. If you like it, confirm a time for an inspection.
  10. Check our Bill of Sale page for your state’s approved bill of sale or use our Universal Sales Contract.
  11. Call your lender to find the loan value for that year and model.
  12. Next call your Insurance Agent and give them the make, model, year and VIN in case you purchase the vehicle. This is also a good time for an estimate of your new insurance premium.
  13. Find an ASE Certified Repair Facility near the seller. Call to confirm their pre-purchase inspection procedures.
  14. Call the seller and schedule a time to meet at the ASE Certified Repair Facility. The inspection only takes 15 to 20 minutes and they typically schedule you on the next available bay. See our Sample ASE Used Car Inspection. Use the Inspection Report when negotiating the final price.
  15. Once the inspection is complete, negotiate the final price of the vehicle.
  16. If the car has a lien, plan of visiting the sellers Lender to pay it off.
  17. Make sure you read Used Car Closing Paperwork.
  18. Plan to have the Seller accompany you to the Department of Motor Vehicles to transfer the title and registration.
  19. Drive home in your new car.
  20. If your down payment is less than 20%, seriously consider purchasing Gap Insurance.
  21. Purchase an Extended Warranty here if you want one.
  22. Congratulate yourself for surviving the pitfalls of Used Car Buying!

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