- My old 2003 Buick Century Custom (my great-grandparents car I bought)

4 Tips When Buying a Privately Sold Car

When I was younger, my father-in-law offered me advice on what cars to look for when I was looking on the market. Here is the advice he told me.

There is a time when someone passes their driver's test and gets their license. Now they're looking to get a car to take them on adventures near and far. This is a critical time because when someone goes car hunting, it is supposed to be a special experience, regardless if it is privately sold or through a dealership. But for most first-time owners, their car comes from someone selling their car privately. I was there when I was on the market to buy my first car. Here is what my father-in-law told me.

Have a Mechanic Check-Out the Potential Car

My father-in-law told me that I should I the car checked-out for any issues and potential problems that may lie with the car. Having a car looked over may cost a little bit of money, but it could potentially save you hundreds in repair costs in the near-future when something goes wrong. It could also give a ballpark number of how much to talk down the potential car to see if the seller would be more reasonable. Now, this isn't to take advantage of the seller, but to also just let them be aware of future problems. Also, if the car isn't bought, it will let the seller know and maybe they will fix the current problems to make the car more worthy.

Look For "One-Owner" Cars

Most cars for sale usually have had 2-5 owners on average on the privately sold market. These owners do not have the full maintenance history of the potential vehicle, unless the car was passed through friends and family. My father-in-law told me that I should look for one owner vehicles because of this maintenance history. In his opinion, he also told me to look for people of the elderly age because of two things: Not as much mileage on the odometer and the cars were never "abused" in the sense of hitting the throttle more than 25%. The car manufacturer of the pensioners, in his opinion that was very believable, was Buick. Buying a one-owner car with a well-maintained history is the unicorn of used cars. It should not have the problems plagued by careless owners. So, to sum it all up, just look for a Buick owned by someone who is retired.

Research the Reliable Cars

As I stated previously, looking for "one-owner" cars are like unicorns. The other best option to do is do research on cars that last a long time. So far, from what I was told, the brands that were reliable a few years ago were old Jeeps, Hondas, Fords, and for the most part Toyotas. What is trending now with the new reliable cars list I am sure changes as much as the seasons. These cars are known for their durability and reliability. I know people who don't look after their cars for months on end and the cars still manage to trudge along with nothing but needing to refill the fuel tank whenever needed. Not only are these cars usually like this, but parts are generally cheap to buy and easy to install.

Buy A Car That Will Be Enjoyed

Buying a car is a big deal. So, when you spend between $500 on the low-end hooptie that will be used for just going to work and school to an upwards of a couple thousand dollars for a pristine piece of machinery, just make sure it is also something that can be enjoyed. As long as you're happy with the car you bought, that is all that matters in the end. You did your research. You liked what you saw. You made sure it was inspected by a mechanic and passed your standards. Make sure it is something you also see yourself driving for years to come.

Final Words

So, I hope you take everything I have written with as much consideration and thought as my father-in-law gave to me. He was a special kind of person. This advice is used every time a friend of mine is on the market for a car or someone asks me for advice. Sharing this advice to others is just me passing along knowledge my father-in-law had. My own advice to you is this; Cars are only as reliable as their owners.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to "Bump" this post and "Join" my tribe. I try to post new car reviews or articles at least twice a week and love getting feedback and suggestions.

For North’s Auto Reviews merchandise: ↓

Join In

Comments (18)

  • 1. check all windows - they have little stamps in them with dates. If a windows has been replaced the date will be different - ask why

    2. check power beams and weld seams. It is relatively hard to repair those without leaving traces. If they have been repaired - walk away, the car has been crashed

    3. never mind the suspension - it *will* fail, but it is fixeable

    4. never mind the engine - nobody can assess the engine without exhaustive tests anyway. If it runs, that's all you're going to know

    5. check drain holes, door edges, and weld spots for rust. That's where it starts

      1 year ago
    • That's why i say take it to a mechanic for it to be sound. But great points.

        1 year ago
    • unless the mechanic is your personal friend, he does not care. Even worse, if you buy a lemon it he gets more business... Speaking from experience as somebody who's first (second hand) car turned out to be welded together from two

        1 year ago
  • Here’s a fifth one... Verify the car’s paperwork before any financial transaction takes place, as you could end up with a car that may have been stolen or illegally imported.

      1 year ago
  • Good advice!

      1 year ago
  • But the question is should I buy from dealer or private seller?

      1 year ago
    • It's depending on your budget and preference. Also, if you really need a car.

        1 year ago
    • Most dealers buy cars from private sellers and polish them up ready to be sold for a profit, so as long as the seller is honest and clear, it shouldn't really matter.

        1 year ago
  • if you can test drive it both on the highway as well in town roads you may notice things more like wheel bearings at high speeds

      1 year ago