Tips for Buying a Car from a Private Seller

Person inspecting a used car for purchase

Are you looking for a reliable car but want to avoid paying the hefty price tag of one from a dealership? You’re not alone. There are over 40 million used car sales every year.

Buying from a local private seller could be a great alternative. Not only can you save some money, but you may even find that perfect vehicle faster than when buying from someone at the dealer.

If you want to know how to buy a car from a private seller, keep the following tips in mind.

Benefits of Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller

The advantage of buying a car from a private seller is the potential for lower-priced vehicles. You may find a great deal on a used car from an individual if you know how to look and negotiate.

Another benefit of buying from an individual versus a dealership is that there are fewer added costs. When buying a car from a dealership, you often have to pay an additional fee for registration and other paperwork. With buying from a private seller, that cost may be eliminated.

Drawbacks of Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller

On the other hand, buying a used car from an individual can be risky. Private sellers may have access to different kinds of information than dealerships do. So they may need to provide more crucial information on the vehicle, such as its history or how many owners it has had.

You must also be aware of potential scams and how to protect yourself when buying from someone you don’t know.

Researching the Vehicle

Before you even start contacting private sellers, you must do your research. You should know what kind of car you want and what price you’re willing to pay. It’s also a good idea to read up on buying a car from a private seller to know what to expect.

Research the make and model of the car in question. Find out if any recalls or common issues are associated with that particular model.

It’s also important to ask how long the seller has had the car and how many miles it has on it. This information can help you know how reliable the vehicle will be before you finalize your purchase.

Have the Car Inspected

Before you finalize the purchase, it’s crucial to have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic. This will help ensure that there are no hidden problems with the vehicle that could cost you a lot of money down the road.

A car inspection will also give you more information about how reliable the car will be and how much it is worth. This can help you determine if the seller’s asking price is fair. Inspections typically cost a few hundred dollars and are well worth the money spent.

If any problems are found during the inspection, you can use this as leverage to negotiate a lower price.

Test Drive the Car

Of course, you’ll want to take the car for a test drive before you buy it. This will give you a chance to make sure that you’re comfortable with the way it drives and that there are no apparent problems with it.

When test driving a car, there are many important factors to consider. Pay attention to how it accelerates, how responsive the steering is, and how smoothly it shifts gears. Check the brakes and make sure all the lights, indicators, and gauges work correctly.

Negotiate the Price

Once you’ve decided that you’re interested in buying the car, it’s time to negotiate the price. Try to negotiate the price to something closer to your budget. Many sellers are open to negotiation, so don’t be afraid to haggle.

Remember that the seller likely has a minimum amount they’re willing to take for the car. Before you start negotiating, research how much similar cars have been selling for recently and use that as a starting point. Be sure to factor in any additional fees related to the purchase, such as taxes and title transfer costs.

You should also be prepared to walk away if the seller doesn’t come down to an acceptable car price range. They may even be willing to meet you somewhere in the middle.

Get Everything in Writing

Once you’ve agreed on a price, getting everything in writing is essential. Getting everything in writing will help protect your interests in case there are any problems with the car later on.

This includes the sales contract, as well as any warranties or guarantees that are being offered. It should also have documentation related to taxes and title transfer costs for later reference.

Completing the Sale

A car title is a legal document that identifies the registered owner of a vehicle. When purchasing a used car from a private seller, it is important to ensure that the title is clean. Outstanding debts or other legal issues could make ownership difficult down the road.

You must have the title transferred to register the car in your name when completing the sale. The seller must fill out a title transfer form with the new owner’s information and sign it over to you. You may also need to pay additional fees for filing and transferring the title.

Once you’ve made the purchase, you’ll need to transfer ownership of the car into your name. This can usually be done at your local DMV office. Be sure to bring all necessary paperwork, including the sales contract and bill of sale.

Here are the basics of the title transfer process:

  1. Gather necessary car purchase documents for the title transfer (sales contract sale, etc.).
  2. Go to the local DMV office with all the required paperwork
  3. Submit all documentation and pay any applicable fees associated with the car
  4. Receive the updated title in your name as evidence of ownership of the vehicle

Take care of this before you get behind the wheel. You can’t legally drive the car until you have gone through this process.

And That’s How to Buy a Car From a Private Seller

So that’s it! By following these steps, you should know how to buy a car from a private seller without any problems. Just remember to do your research, thoroughly inspect, and get everything in writing before you hit the road.

At GG&D, we can help you change ownership and issue plates and tags. You can stop by any GG&D location in the Phoenix area to finalize the sale.


GG&D provides complete full service vehicle registration & title services. Driver License & ID Services available at all GG&D locations.


GG&D Motor Vehicle Services, LLC was a founding member of the 3rd Party Motor Vehicle Association. We offer vehicle title transfers, license plate replacement, motor vehicle registration, duplicate titles, notary services, temporary permits and other MVD Arizona services. GG&D has locations in Phoenix, Glendale, and Mesa. Find a location near you!

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