So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons of buying a used car from a dealer, and decided to go for a private used car sale. This could potentially save you a lot of money, but it also raises some safety considerations you likely wouldn’t think about if you were buying from a dealership.
Finding a used car to buy
Finding the right used car usually involves sifting through a bunch of online listings. To make the best use of your time, focus on listings that have the information you’re looking for. You want to know things like – what’s happened in the vehicle’s history? Has it been in an accident? How does that affect its value? What kind of condition is the vehicle in? How many owners has it had? Has it been serviced regularly? Many online Canadian used car listings come with a CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report that can fill in the blanks on this information and more.
Meeting with the seller
This is the point in the process when safety is most important. To make the used car buying process safer and more secure, arrange to meet with the seller in a public place, in daylight hours. With the increased popularity of online sales, it’s become common for buyers and sellers to meet in police station or fire hall parking lots. Contact your local police station to see if they allow/encourage this, and if not, ask if they recommend any alternative meeting places. Speak with the seller ahead of time about how you plan to test drive the vehicle. Do they have to be in the car with you? Will they allow you to test drive the vehicle on your own if you leave a piece of ID as collateral? These are all decisions that you’ll have to make in partnership with the seller.
Regardless of whether you’re bringing the seller with you on the test drive, it’s always smart to bring a friend along just in case. This probably goes without saying, but bring your phone with you and make sure it’s fully charged. Most cell phones can allow someone to track your location – it’s a good idea to enable this function during your test drive, and have someone at home keeping an eye on your whereabouts. Give them a heads-up when the test drive will start and the route you have planned. Let them know when the test drive is over and you’re safely back in your own car.
During the test drive, avoid driving on isolated, country roads and stick to the main routes – urban areas and highways if possible. If you live in a rural setting, try to focus on the most populated areas nearby to help you remain visible at all times.
These tips will help you stay safe during the test drive, but it’s still important to make sure you have a productive, efficient inspection of the vehicle. Here are some tips to get the most out of your test drive .
Finalizing the sale
The rules and regulations around finalizing a private used car sale are different in every province, but each will involve a face-to-face meeting with the seller and the exchange of money. Use common sense around what kind of payment to accept, and never hand over payment without confirming the ownership transfer is legitimate.
In most cases, you and the seller will meet at a government office to transfer the vehicle’s ownership. If a seller tries to convince you to meet in the parking lot and exchange documentation ahead of time, don’t do it! Do all your signing in the government office.