Is Craigslist a Good Place to Find a Used Car?

Sun Devil Auto Expert, published on 04/18/2016

Craigslist has grown in popularity as a searching tool. Many people utilize it to look for jobs, housing, household items, cars, and much more. Though it has become a common tool, the news has relayed various, often grim, stories of Craigslist transactions gone wrong. However, some still find it to be a useful source when properly applied, so is Craigslist a good place to find a used car? Check out a few factors that you should consider in making that decision.

Ideal Craigslist Situation

Ideally, Craigslist is meant to connect people directly. In short, one person has a product or service to sell, and someone else needs it. On the platform the seller and buyer can interact with one another and coordinate the sales transaction. In the instance of a car, the car seller provides information and pictures of the vehicle and interested parties contact them. A savvy buyer will negotiate the price if possible, arrange to meet with the owner, possibly test drive and then purchase the car. In this perfect scenario it can be a smooth process, and many individuals may see it as a way to gain more negotiating power and avoid having to deal with pushy salesmen. If executed properly, this could be a quick and possibly enjoyable route.

Possible Issues

Unfortunately, there are a few possible issues that may arise when purchasing a car on Craigslist. Here are the top three: 

1. Lemon laws only apply to dealerships in some states.

2. Some information may not match on the car, such as the VIN on the dashboard being different than the one in the door, indicating that the car may be stolen.

3. The seller could furnish a fake title. 

As you can see, most issues have to do with the seller and are out of your control. This can put you at quite a bit of risk.

Safety First

If you choose to purchase a vehicle through Craigslist, consider your safety first. When meeting with the vehicle seller, it’s a good idea to bring someone with you, as well as choosing a neutral, public, and well-lit location. Some local police stations now offer their lobbies as an area to conduct Craigslist business, to ensure the safety of all parties. If the seller doesn’t agree to the terms, perhaps you should keep shopping.  

Car Dealer Difference

At a car dealership the salesmen are accountable to a standard, which decreases the chances of deception compared to a private seller. You have the assurance of the lemon laws, as well as a written agreement and receipt. It may also be easier to track the ownership and issues of the car through a dealer.

In general, there are pros and cons to purchasing a used car. Depending upon your situation and desires, purchasing your car through Craigslist or a car dealer could be more beneficial. Either way, it is essential that you make an informed decision and maintain a paper trail.