5 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller

For many drivers, buying a used car from a private party is the only way to go. You don’t have to deal with a high pressure car salesmen; there’s less paperwork to complete; and there are no mind games to play. There’s just two people hoping for a great deal on a used car. One is buying, the other selling. Simple.

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As simple as it sounds, used car buyers can often feel left out in the cold. The Internet is filled with articles on how to play hardball with a professional car salesman, but what about when you’re trying to buy a car from your neighbor, a friend, or an everyday person you’ve never met? myAutoloan is here for you throughout the car-buying process, from research to financing.

Before handing over the cash to a private seller, ask these five questions to help make sure you end up with a good deal on a great used car.

Ask These 5 Questions Before Buying a Private Party Used Car

1. How many miles are on the odometer?

Used car sellers will typically include mileage in their ad, but if not, go ahead and ask this question before seeing the vehicle. Enter the mileage, make, model, year, and presumed condition of the used car into a site like TrueCar to gauge the value of the vehicle against the seller’s asking price. Depending on the situation, you could have instant negotiating ammunition! You can also research common problems with the vehicle make and model at different mileages, then ask the seller if they’ve already addressed them or seens signs of them surfacing.

2. Why are you selling the car?

This question helps you out in a few ways. One, it helps you gauge the seller’s urgency, and thus, how much wiggle room you might have with the asking price. Are they tight on cash? Selling for sentimental reasons? Already have a new car in the driveway?

If you’re dealing with a private seller who’s honest to a fault, you could be lucky enough to learn details about the car’s condition you wouldn’t otherwise notice. The seller might divulge that the car is a gas guzzler, isn’t reliable on long road trips, or the clutch sticks when releasing.

3. Have you had the car since it was brand new?

If you’re talking to the third, fourth, or fifth owner of the car, the information you get will only go so far. The more owners the car has had, the more incomplete the current seller’s info might be.

Play detective (and protect yourself) by ordering a CarFax Vehicle History Report or more thorough VinAudit Vehicle Report. You’ll get an instant vehicle history report with 60+ problem checks from VinAudit.com, an official provider for the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

If you’re not talking to the first or second owner of the vehicle, follow this question with, “Who did you purchase the vehicle from?” or “Where was the car bought?”

4. Do you have service records?

Unless you’re looking for a used car to tinker with and test out your own auto repair skills on, you want a car that’s been well maintained!

A CarFax report will include some service and maintenance records, but it likely won’t include everything, especially if the owner relied on “mom and pop” auto shops around town. Ask for receipts and evidence that maintenance was performed at regular, manufacturer-specified intervals. These receipts will usually note the odometer reading at the time of service, helping you verify the car’s history.

If the seller can’t produce any service records or even remember the last time they had the oil changed, it might be time for you to find a different used car to buy. You don’t want to wind up with a used car that’s unreliable and unsafe–no matter how cheap it is!

5. Can I have the vehicle inspected by my mechanic?

You had your home professionally inspected before you bought it. Why not do the same  with a used car? Sellers with nothing to hide won’t balk at a request like this. Sellers with something to hide, however, will resist.

Finance your used car purchase today!

Buying a used car from a private seller is a great move when it comes to saving money, and using myAutoloan for auto financing is a great move when it comes to saving time! If you’ve asked these five questions and found a reliable ride you can’t wait to drive, then apply for a private party auto loan. We’re here to help you buy your used car today.

4 Things You Must Do After You Buy a Used Car

Congrats on your new-ish car! You got a used car loan and a great deal on an amazing ride, but are you ready to hit the road? Keep those shiny rims where they are for just one second. There are a handful of must-do tasks you need to take care of before you can drive with ultimate peace of mind.

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After You Buy a Used Car…

1. Update Your Important Accounts and Paperwork

First things first — you need to stay legal! No matter what state you’re in, you can’t drive on public roads unless your vehicle is registered. If you buy a used car at a dealership, they’ll usually help you with the paperwork so you can drive with temporary registration before leaving the lot. They may charge a small fee, but it’s worth it if you just can’t wait to get in the driver’s seat.

In some states, like Maryland, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Michigan, to name few, you can complete the whole vehicle registration process at the dealership.  

This is also the right time to contact your car insurance company and update your policy. You may need to adjust your level of coverage. For instance, if you’ve been driving an old beater around for the last few years, there’s a good chance you didn’t have Comprehensive and Collision coverage on your policy. Sometimes it doesn’t make financial sense to pay for these two coverages on an older model vehicle. However, if you’re now driving a used car that’s only a few years old, you might want to include Comprehensive and Collision, as they could help pay for repairs to your sweet new ride in the event of accident or collision.

If you bought the car used from a private owner, you may also want to call the vehicle manufacturer and let them know you’re the current owner. That way you’ll be quickly notified if any safety recalls are issued. The manufacturer’s customer service phone number can be found in your owner’s manual or online. The manufacturer will record your name and address, along with your car’s VIN, in their database for further communication.

You’ll also want to update any parking permit information tied to your car (like for campus parking or a work garage) and vehicle specific roadside assistance memberships.

2. Invest in a Thorough Tune-Up

This step may not be essential if you bought a certified pre-owned car (CPO) since these cars have to meet age and mileage requirements, as well as go through an inspection at the dealership.

For example, Edmunds.com reports that Toyota requires dealers to put used vehicles through a 160-point inspection process. If a car passes inspection, it’s awarded an extended warranty and deemed “certified pre-owned.”

Buying a used car from a private party is different. You may not have all the service records, you don’t know how truthful the seller is being about the condition/history of the car, and there may be a hidden problem lurking under the hood. Avoid unexpected car troubles by bringing the car to a mechanic you trust and investing in a basic mechanical inspection and tune-up. Ask the mechanic for a rundown of services you need to drive safely right now, and a list of services you should prepare for in the future.

At a minimum, top off essential fluids, change the oil, change all filters, and rotate the tires.

3. Check for Open Safety Recalls

A vehicle safety recall is issued when a vehicle, type of vehicle equipment, or part of a vehicle, does not meet Federal safety standards. According to CarFax, more than 47 million vehicles have at least one open safety recall. That’s about one in five vehicles out on the road today!

Check to see if your car has an open safety recall, especially if you bought it used. SaferCar.gov offers a convenient tool for looking up this information. All you need is the car’s VIN number and an internet connection.

Regardless of whether or not you’re the original owner, you still qualify to have your recalls repaired free of charge (even recalls that were announced before you bought the car). According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the statute of limitations for no-charge recall repairs is 10 years from the original sale date of the vehicle.

4. Clean and Accessorize the Car

Now for the fun part! Wash, vacuum, and wipe down the interior of the car if it wasn’t detailed before you bought it. Pick out new floor mats, seat covers, and a sun shade to express your personality.

After you buy a used car, you may also want to personalize it by:

  • Adding a phone mount
  • Organizing the trunk with bins or baskets
  • Upgrading your rims
  • Designing a custom license plate cover
  • Keeping it smelling fresh with your favorite scents

Now that everything is in order, it’s time to make the most of your used car! Take a road trip, hit the highway, and enjoy the ride. You deserve it. And if you’re still trying to sell your old car to make room for a new one? Check out our four simple steps to increase the resale value and appeal of your car.

How Much Should My Car Down Payment Be

You know it’s time to buy a new car. Ol’ Bessie is sputtering at every turn and you’ve been saving up for what feels like a decade. But how do you know if you have enough cash saved up to buy a car? Most folks will say you should make a down payment that’s at least 20% of the vehicle purchase price, but you might be able to get away with a different amount. Learn more about car loan down payments and how to choose the amount that’s best for you.

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The Lowdown on Car Loan Down Payments

Unless you have enough cash on hand to pay for a car outright, you’ll need auto financing. Most people do! Financing helps you buy a vehicle and then pay for it over a period of time. Your down payment is the amount of cash you pay, upfront, to buy the vehicle.

Your down payment is an important part of the auto financing process, since it:

  • Reduces the amount of the loan you need to buy a car
  • Reduces the amount owed in case the lender has to repossess the car
  • Could increase your chances of being approved for a car loan
  • Could help you secure a lower interest rate and better terms for your loan
  • Can help lower your monthly payment and total amount paid
  • Provides you with equity in your vehicle
  • Could help you qualify for a more expensive, higher end car

What is a Good Down Payment?

Many experts advise putting down 20%, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. The amount of money you put down will vary depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • Your credit profile: This is the most important factor in determining how much money you should put down for a car. If you have an exceptional credit history, you may be able to get away with a small down payment or find yourself eligible for one of the coveted “zero down payment” offers. If you have bad credit or no credit, you may be required to make a higher down payment.
  • The price of the vehicle: The pricier the car, the more you will usually need to put down. Then again, if you have an exceptional credit score, you may be able to go with a lower down payment. Your credit profile still reigns as one of the most important factors in determining your down payment amount.
  • Your desired monthly payment: The more money you put down, the less you will need to borrow. The less you borrow, the lower your monthly payments will be! Play around with myAutoloan’s Advanced Auto Loan Payment Calculator to see how your down payment plays into your monthly payment.

Run the numbers early on to give yourself a clear savings goal to work toward. To get an idea of what these numbers look like in real life, check out the table below. It offers a quick look at various vehicle prices, down payment amounts, and the resulting auto financing you’d need in order to purchase the vehicle.

Down Payment Quick Look Table
Vehicle Price Percent of Vehicle Price Down Payment Amount Amount Financed
$10,000 10% $1,000 $9,000
$15,000 10% $1,500 $13,500
$20,000 10% $2,000 $18,000
$25,000 10% $2,500 $22,500
$30,000 10% $3,000 $27,000
$10,000 20% $2,000 $8,000
$15,000 20% $3,000 $12,000
$20,000 20% $4,000 $$16,000
$25,000 20% $5,000 $20,000
$30,000 20% $6,000 $24,000

In the end, how much money you put down to buy a car is up to you. Down payment amounts will vary from driver to driver. Use myAutoloan loan calculators and interest rate estimators to get a better idea of where you stand. Then apply for an auto loan the fast and easy way! Submit one application and view up to four loan offers in minutes!

Bad Credit Won’t Stop You From Getting an Auto Loan

It is possible for anyone to have a low credit score.  In many cases, an unexpected job loss or medical expense makes it difficult to keep up with mortgage, student loan or other debt payments. However, this shouldn’t automatically disqualify you from getting reliable and affordable transportation.

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We Work With Everyone Who Needs Financing

Whether you have great, average, bad or subprime credit, we can help you get the financing that you need in a timely manner. When you apply for an auto loan with us, we will return up to four different offers from national lenders that you can compare at your own pace.  Once you decide on a loan offer that fits your needs, you can finish the application process by choosing a lender that is direct to you and get the vehicle that you want or need.  Having choice is a huge benefit that can’t be overlooked.

We Look at You As a Person Instead of a Number

Your credit score is one of the most important numbers that a lender looks at when determining who to lend to.  However, our lenders all realize that you are more than just your credit score.  No one chooses to get sick or chooses to get laid off by their employer. Bad things happen to good people, and that is just a fact of life.  Furthermore, no one can predict when they will need to see a dentist or when the roof of their home will start to leak.  When you work with a direct to consumer loan provider, like myAutoloan.com, you are treated like a person who needs help to get past any prior unfortunate circumstances.

Pay Less With a Direct to Consumer Loan

When you work with a dealer or other middleman to get an auto loan, you can be sure that there is going to be markup.   You could be charged origination fees, document fees and any other fee that the dealer or other third-party can pass along to you.  This could add hundreds or thousands of dollars to your loan, which could make it harder to pay off in a reasonable amount of time.  Going direct to a work with a lender is the least expensive way to get a car loan.  Check out our calculator to see what you could afford.

Start to Rebuild Your Credit With a Bad Credit Auto Loan

A bad credit auto loan can help you get back on the path to having a good credit score.  When you make a payment, it is reported to credit agencies.  If you can string together multiple on-time payments, your score could go up to by 100 to 200 points in a matter of months.  The exact increase to your score depends on what your credit profile was when you first took out the loan.  However, as a general rule, most lenders pay the most attention to credit activity that has taken place in the last 12-24 months.  So get going and make things happen for yourself – good things buy being on time with your payments and see what happens!

There are many reasons why your credit score is lower than you would like it to be that have nothing to do with irresponsible spending habits.  By working with a direct to consumer loan provider that has multiple platform based lenders, you can get the car that you want at a price that you can afford regardless of your credit score.