To protect your purchases and hard-earned money, you should take the same common sense approach as with classified ads.
Here are seven tips to finding a quality used vehicle and avoiding fraud online:
See what others have to say. Check to see if the Web site listing offers seller feedback. Read over information about previous transactions and look for any comments that may alert you. If the site does not offer feedback, ask the seller for references. You want to make sure the seller is honest and will provide a safe, reliable transaction.
Contact the seller. Find out as much as you can about both the seller and the car you are interested in. Ask why they are selling the vehicle, how many miles and owners it has and if it has ever been in an accident. Ask about the condition of the vehicle and if all of the service records have been kept.
Get a vehicle history report. Get a detailed vehicle history report from Carfax. The report will give you valuable information such as the number of owners, mileage readings, whether the car has ever been salvaged, declared a lemon and much more. Compare the information given to you by the seller to the Carfax Report. Many of the cars listed at sites like AutoMart.com have free Carfax Reports.
Know the car’s market value. Get online pricing information from Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book. If the price is significantly lower, take extra precautions. Remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Get a second opinion. It may cost around $75 bucks, but it is well worth it to have a certified mechanic thoroughly inspect the car you are serious about (and paying a lot of money for). If the car is in a different state, contact a mechanic in the local area to arrange an inspection.
Proceed with caution. Review the description, payment and shipping details. Make sure you understand everything you are signing. Find out what actions the seller will take if a problem occurs and get all promises in writing. Never disclose personal information such as your social security number, bank account number or date of birth.
Know your rights. Contact your state’s attorney general’s office to find out what protections you have in case a deal goes bad.
The Internet has opened up a large market of used cars. As long as you take the necessary steps to make it a safe and reliable transaction, there are many great deals to be had. Buying a car is the second biggest investment you will ever make. Take the time to ensure that you are getting a quality vehicle for your hard-earned money. Report any suspicious behavior to the Better Business Bureau.