Author Topic: Car buying from private party  (Read 1647 times)


  • Bristles
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  • Posts: 269
Car buying from private party
« on: August 22, 2017, 02:18:39 PM »
So I found a pretty good deal on a crossover. It seems to me it's about $2000 to $3000 under market. I checked the carfax and service history and it's clean. Drives well. Tires look good. Body is good and interior clean. Person seems trustworthy--no red flags.

Here's my thing...I have never done a transaction like this and it just weirds me out. The price is about $18,000 and it happens to be about 3 hours away. I guess it just really weirds me out to hand $18k to a complete stranger and hope it all works out. They are also asking for a down payment to hold the car til we meet.

Does anyone else have similar feelings in this deals? Any ways to mitigate this???

Is it in general a bad idea at this price point? The only cash deals I have done were around $4000.

I should also mention that there is a lien on it. She said she paid it off but is just waiting for the lien release. What hiccups should I look out for there? Of course I know that I shouldn't fork over the cashier's check until the title is clear. But honestly...I am not even sure what that looks like


  • Stubble
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  • Posts: 198
  • Location: NJ
Re: Car buying from private party
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2017, 04:01:19 AM »
I would not give a down payment, for any reason.  If she sells the car, you can surely find another.  It is not worth the risk of losing the down payment if she disappears on you. 

Get a bank check for the 18k when she tells you she has the title.  Until then, please don't give her any money.  It sounds to me like maybe it's not really paid off. 


  • Handlebar Stache
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  • Posts: 1723
Re: Car buying from private party
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2017, 04:13:08 AM »
The only way I would co that deal is to meet at the bank that holds the lien.  Make sure the seller has the title. You both go to a bank officer, and get a copy of the lien release.
If it's not released;  get the pay off amount of the lien from the officer. 
If the payoff is more than the agreed price - say 'thank-you' and leave.
If not;  wire transfer the amount of the lien payoff from your bank to that bank.  The bank officer will help if you need it.  Get a copy of the lien release. Then transfer any remaining amount of the car price to the sellers account.  Have the seller sign over the title - in front of the bank officer.  I believe some states require the title transfer to be notorized.


  • Walrus Stache
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  • Posts: 7973
  • Location: Norway
Re: Car buying from private party
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2017, 04:24:23 AM »
We have bought a second hand car from a private person a couple of times. Make sure to do a little test drive:
- When at speed, take your hands off the steering wheel and check that it continues to drive straight foreward.
- Test braking.
- Open the window while driving and hear for sounds.
- Tell the seller that you want to see the car from underneath to check for rust. When I asked last time, we drove to a car maintenace place where it was put on a bridge. Bring a flashlight. Make sure the critical parts are not rusty.

Check that the seller hands over enough car keys. It is expensive to order extra keys.
Pay when you receive the car. Do an electronic transfer that generates an immediate receipt or bring a check.

We have also sold some cars to a private person. One of them needed a loan and his bank transferred the money to our account before he came to collect the car. This guy lived 2500 kms away, took an airplane to us and drove back in our car. We have also once received a bunch or cash. This is very uncomfortable when the amount is quite high.