glassy blog post

Helpful Tips for Buying a Car on Craigslist

Kent Lansing
Apr 9, 2020

Craigslist is a massively popular website for advertising. Millions of people use Craigslist for buying and selling products, services, apartments, and job hunting. In the last few years, Craigslist became very popular for auto sales. However, with the occasional horror story related to Craigslist sales, many people have avoided Craigslist. Using common sense and a few tips, Craigslist can be a great way to buy a used car at an affordable price.

1. Utilize both search options; the private seller and dealer options. While buying from a private seller can oftentimes be cheaper, dealer options will provide you with a more secure option. Many times, dealers will take the initiative to offer certified and warrantied vehicles, versus mostly being sold ‘as is’ by private parties. This option may be the smartest choice if you aren’t looking to sift through thousands of cars that people are selling from their backyards. However, if you are looking for a car at a slightly more affordable rate, the seller option may be perfect for you. You will have many choices!

2. Read the ad closely. Look for typos, or all caps, and grainy pictures. These can be indicators of a faulty car and a seller who isn’t looking to disclose much.

3. Call the seller first. Try to judge the person’s character and ask as many questions that you can about the car itself. Ask for more photos of the car, including any photos of problem areas that the ad might have mentioned.

4. Meet in a public space. Many police stations now allow people to make Craigslist exchanges in their parking lot. This is a perfect place to use for safety. If you don’t have a convenient police station to use, an area with a lot of foot traffic such as a public parking lot is also a great option.

5. Have the car inspected. If it’s just you, take the car for a drive and test out the essentials. If you are buying for a family or would like to be a little more cautious, have the car inspected by a reputable mechanic. A seller with nothing to hide will agree!

6. Try to negotiate the price, and make sure that the title is clean. Unless expressly stated that the price is firm, most craigslist ads are priced higher than they expect to receive, with the understanding that it will be negotiated down.

7. Head to your bank to sign papers! The bank will provide a secure and official space for the sale to become finalized.

8. Once the car is yours, make sure you have all of the items with you. Check to make sure all of the parts to the car are included, and that you aren’t leaving anything behind with the seller.

Once your sale is finalized, you are free to enjoy the car! You have made it out of your Craigslist transaction safely and easily.