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Buying A Used Car Online

Top Tips for Online Car Purchases

The internet is a great place for doing business, whether it is selling your old baseball cards, connecting with a soul-mate or buying a used car.  There are websites that specialize in just about anything and in the case of purchasing a new ride, there are several options.  Auto dealers, brokers and private parties who wish to sell a vehicle use one or more sites to advertise the car and post pictures.  These sellers will supply all the data needed to make a decision about purchasing their posted vehicles, even supplying an independently sourced history of the unit.

Some of the websites that allow vehicle postings will attempt to weed out any scammers or vendors who misrepresent their offerings, but there is still a little risk involved.  Some of the sites are:

  • EBay – There is even an EBay Motors section to this web giant.  A buyer may search by make, model, year and equipment, or just scroll through the posts.
  • Craig’s List – This site is divided into market areas, or a general search may be conducted.  Most of the listings are from private parties, though, and if you are worried about a used car salesman’s lies, wait until you deal with some of these individuals who aren’t in the car business:).
  • Auto Trader – The posts on this site are divided between auto dealers and private parties.  A search may be conducted by brand, model, equipment and price.  Several searches may be conducted simultaneously, as well.  The search area may be local, regional or national, depending upon how far the buyer is willing to travel or pay for delivery.  Many of the postings have Car Fax vehicle histories included.
  • Special Interest Vehicle Groups – Many enthusiast brands and models have clubs or associations, the members of which often have vehicles for sale.  Included in these are BMW CCA, Porsche Club of America, Corvette Owners Association and the Mustang Club.  These clubs have websites, often with the vehicles for sale posted.

Car Fax is an organization that will conduct a search of a vehicle history using the vehicle identification number (VIN).  They offer this service to dealers and private parties who are interested in selling a vehicle, but also to buyers who want to know as much info as possible before making a purchasing decision.  The reports will disclose all the owners, where the vehicle was first sold, if it has been involved in any traffic collisions or sunk in a flood . . . just about anything a buyer would want to know. 

Also available online are several sites that will help a buyer establish the real value of any prospective purchase.  Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds and NADA all have webpages where a look-up can be conducted.  They will disclose the retail value, wholesale value, trade-in value and loan value.  Properly armed a buyer will be in a better position to negotiate a purchase. 

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