Get CARFAX Reports

Buying a Car from a Private Seller

What’s in it for me?

Buying from a private seller can be a great way to save money, especially if you’re on a budget. Since they’re not professional salespeople, you may feel less pressure when buying cars for sale by owner to negotiate a lower price. You have the advantage of talking to the owner firsthand to ask specific questions about the car you’re interested in – but don’t rely solely on what the seller says when  you’re looking to buy used cars!

Tips When Buying a Car from a Private Seller

Search online classified websites and the classified section of newspapers to find cars that are for sale by owner in your area.

If you are deciding between several cars, get the Unlimited CARFAX Report Plan*. Run CARFAX Vehicle History Reports online or from the CARFAX Report mobile app.

Use the CARFAX Price Calculator on the CARFAX Report to help you adjust used car prices based on their reported history and negotiate with the seller to pay the right price.

Contact the seller of the car you’re interested in and arrange some time to see the car in person. During your visit, take the vehicle on a test drive and ask the private seller if you can take the car on a route similar to your daily routine.

Get the car inspected by an expert. This can help find problems that may not have been reported to anyone.

Watch out for curbstoning! Curbstoning is when an illegal dealer poses as a private seller to sell several cars without a license. These vehicles often come with problems that curbstoners try to cover-up by “flipping” the car.

Check the name on the seller’s license and the name listed on the car’s title to make sure they match up. This can help protect you from becoming a curbstoning victim.


*The Unlimited Plan lets you run unlimited CARFAX Reports by entering the car’s license plate information. Using the license plate information gives you the same Carfax Report you’d get when entering the vehicle identification number (VIN).

3 thoughts on “Buying a Car from a Private Seller”

  1. my friend was gonna trade cars and the owner of this specific car took my friends for a test drive and never came back with his car but left his car with my friend. how can in get the thieves name with the liense plate no,

    1. You can dial a number and they will take care of that situation, get a pen and paper to write this down…. 911 ha ha. Report the car stolen.

  2. These articles are garbage. Curbstoning? Really? A licensed dealer is heavily regulated, by the State in which they operate. An independent/private seller, is much more likely to try to hide major issues, and sell you something AS/IS than an dealer would be. Whether its sitting on the side of a street with a ForSale sign, or listed on CL, why should it matter if it is dealer owned or individually owned…if you are buying a car owned by a dealer……legally, you are protected much more than buying from in individual. These articles are just meant to scare the general public into paying for your services.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *