The Problem With Buying a Car Off Craigslist

November 8th, 2019 by

A 'SALE' sign is being placed on the windshield of a used car.

If you’re searching “car dealerships near me” and “used car dealerships vs private sellers,” while you are looking for a new used car, chances are you’ve brought up Craigslist to check out what people are selling. Now, there’s no denying you’ll find some awesome cars on Craigslist. You might even find some funky designs and trim packages you simply will never find anywhere else. It is a great destination for sifting and searching. But in terms of buying a car off Craigslist? Well, just like anything else for sale through the website, there is a major buyer beware you need to keep in mind. And when spending thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars on a car, do you really want to roll the dice on a car that might stop working minutes after your transaction is complete? Before you decide what to do, here are a few reasons why you should think twice when it comes to buying cars on Craigslist.

Zero Guarantees When Shopping Through Craigslist

When buying a car off the Internet, such as through Craigslist, you have zero guarantees as to what to expect. Sure, you can cross your fingers and hope you get what you’re paying for, but there’s no guarantee as to what you might get. Now, if you’re looking for a project car, Craigslist is great. With a project car, you’re buying the body and will work on it until you have the car of your dreams. That’s fine because when buying a project car, you’re probably only spending a few hundred dollars. But when your spending thousands or more? You need some kind of guarantee.

So how do you safeguard yourself when buying on Craigslist? Well, first, you need to obtain the VIN of the car. With the VIN, you can obtain a Carfax report. This report will go over every repair, accident, owner, upgrade, and everything else done to the vehicle (outside of self-installations, which will not be indicated). Ideally, the owner would provide this information as it does cost to obtain a Carfax report (and if you do this several times you’ll end up spending hundreds of dollars before ever purchasing a vehicle). If the seller doesn’t offer the VIN? It’s a sign there’s likely something wrong with the car.

After you pay for the Carfax and everything is satisfactory, you then need to take it into a repair shop you trust and have them perform a complete inspection. This will likely cost a few hundred bucks, which adds to the eventual purchase price. Again, if you do this a handful of times before buying a car you’ll end up spending thousands of dollars. Add all this up and, unless you get lucky with the very first car, you’ll end up spending just as much, if not more, on a Craigslist car than what you would on a dealership car.

Certified Pre-Owned Available Through Dealerships (Not Through Craigslist)

A man is looking at information on a used car at a car dealership near me in Mesa, AZ.

Most dealerships will offer some kind of guarantee when buying a car. If something happens to it during a set period of time following the purchase, you can take it back. You can’t do that with a Craigslist purchase. Once the transaction is complete, and the title has been transferred, the previous owner will not buy the car back or pay for repairs. That can add another several hundred if not several thousand dollars to the cost of your vehicle.

When buying from a dealership, some cars are Certified Pre-Owned. These vehicles are certified via the manufacturer and come with added warranties. This is not something you receive when shopping from Craigslist. So while looking at cars on Craigslist can be pretty fun, the eventual purchase price may end up being similar, if not more than what you’d pay at a dealership when you add up all the inspection fees and necessary repairs. Plus, if something goes wrong, you’ll be stuck fronting the bill. And do you really feel like repairing a car you just bought? Probably not.

Dealerships Offers Peace Of Mind

Scrolling through the listings of used cars on Craigslist can be fun, and you’ll see plenty of cars for sale you’d never find at a dealership. However, when it comes to buying a reliable car you know will work and will live up to what you want in a used car, there’s no better option than to make your next pre-owned purchase from a dealership. That is why you need to check out the wide selection available at Arizona Cars. No matter the kind of vehicle you’re searching for or the price range you have, there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for here at Arizona Cars in Mesa. Add in the vehicle inspections and the maintenance performed, and you’ll have the peace of mind knowing the vehicle you buy is running as efficiently as possible.