Buying a used car online can be a great choice and an even better investment — not only are used cars significantly cheaper than new cars these days, but with so many leased cars now being returned to local car dealers, these lots are flooded with used cars that need to be sold (and consumers definitely have the advantage here, with more choices and lower prices). Since you probably already did some research online about what to look for in a used car, it just makes sense to look for cars that you can actually purchase online, too. If you don’t have time to shop around at local used car dealers, or you’ve looked around and they don’t have what you want, turning to an online marketplace is definitely a good choice.
With that being said, it’s important to realize that not all websites and sellers are trustworthy. If you’re buying a used car online — especially if you’re buying one from an individual seller, rather than a dealership — here are a few important things to check before actually making your purchase:
- Brakes, battery, pads, and rotors: Among many important parts in a car, these parts are often the ones that get the most wear and tear, and also affect the safety of the vehicle. If anything needs to be repaired, you’ll want to know about it before you buy the car (especially to make sure you don’t pay the seller more than you should). If you can’t check these things yourself, there are many repair shops that will provide trustworthy maintenance inspections.
- Recall history: When a particular car model is recalled, it doesn’t mean that the whole car is defective; it just means that a certain part needs to be fixed or replaced for safety reasons. As long as that part has been replaced by a reliable auto service shop, you have nothing to worry about — but it’s important to check if you’re buying a car model that was recalled in the past so that you know to ask if the part has been repaired.
- Spare key and tire: These two things aren’t really essential when you’re buying a used car, but it’s important to ask if the seller will provide these, and if the car even came with extra keys or a spare tire when it was new. Having a spare key and spare tire on hand is a good idea — for security and safety reasons more than anything else. If you’re purchasing a car that doesn’t come with these, make sure that you buy a spare tire and schedule a time to have the key copied ASAP.