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Unread 08-05-2015, 09:51 PM   #1
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Default Looking to buy first used car from an individual

Hi all I live in the USA, and was hoping someone can give me some advice.

Although I do not have a car make and model picked out yet, I am looking to buy a used car. Don't want to do this from a dealer, as it's typically too expensive. So, I will get one from an individual. My question concerns making sure I do not get screwed while making the purchase.

The way I see it happening is this:

I respond to an ad in my local paper via phone. Talk to the seller, and if everything seems legit, I go look at the car. The car checks out, and the seller and I agree on a price. I tell him I will come back tomorrow, cash in hand, and also with DMV paperwork.

Day # 2: I arrive at the seller's house, hand over the cash, the seller fills out the DMV paperwork, and off to DMV I go to register the vehicle and get the plates.

I arrive back at the seller's house an hour later, plates in hand. I affix the plates to the car, get the keys from the seller, and off I go.

That's IF all goes as planned. What happens if, when I get back to the seller's house from DMV (after handing over the money) the seller is not there. Or, I he answers the door, and says, "who are you?" I am sure the vast majority of people would never do this, but there is always one.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to successfully guard against something like this?

Thank you all in advance.

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Unread 08-05-2015, 10:17 PM   #2
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You don't give him the money until he gives you the title to the car, once he signs over the title, then you give him the money. Do not give him the money until you have official ownership of the car.
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Unread 08-06-2015, 09:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidM1900 View Post
Day # 2: I arrive at the seller's house, hand over the cash, the seller fills out the DMV paperwork, and off to DMV I go to register the vehicle and get the plates.

I arrive back at the seller's house an hour later, plates in hand. I affix the plates to the car, get the keys from the seller, and off I go.
Please DO NOT do this. When you hand over cash, you should be getting a bill of sale, the car, the keys, and title signed and ready to go. Some states require the seller to sign some additional paperwork (like a few line items in a title application, for example) so CHECK YOUR LOCAL DMV SITE for a checklist before making the sale. You do NOT want to wait through the ****ing lines at the DMV only to find out you're missing something the DMV site said you needed.

Here in Texas you're allowed to get temporary tags to allow you to drive the car from the point of sale to the DMV or just around town for 30 days while you make your way over to your tax office/DMV. I'm sure your DMV has something like this. Look around on their site.

You ARE required to insure the vehicle before you start driving it around so make sure you get the car covered. Your insurance company won't want to start insuring the car until you actually take ownership (after you hand over cash and have a signed title) but typically will cover you just for the drive home. Call them to figure out how to make this go smoothly.

So all that being said, I would very highly recommend getting the car inspected before making the sale. Have the seller meet you at your favorite local shop and negotiate/finalize the deal upon completion of the inspection.
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Last edited by enderx475; 08-06-2015 at 09:10 AM.

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Unread 08-06-2015, 08:26 PM   #4
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See, now this is why I ask

Fully aware about the insurance, and I do plan on having the car inspected by a real mechanic first. Interesting about temporary tags in TX - gotta check with my DMV.

So, I guess I should:

Agree on a price
Have DMV forms in hand, and have the seller fill them out
Get the title from the seller
Go to DMV
Return from DMV, then pay the seller, then drive the car off

That seems better than my scenario!

Thanks guys!

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Unread 08-06-2015, 09:24 PM   #5
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No here is how I bought all of my used cars in private party sales. I have the seller bring the car to my mechanic, where he can run a full diagnostic and I can take a look at the car on the lift. Then I will take the car for a test drive. There is no need to go to the DMV, you can print out all of the forms online. I usually write up my own bill of sale and you get the DMV Statement of Transaction form, which you both sign. Once that is signed and the price is agreed upon and both of you have copies of every form and the price is agreed upon, you can give him the money and at the same time, he gives you the keys, and title to the car. Make sure you have the transaction done in front of a non biased 3rd party, Like a mechanic. This insures that he doesn't run off with your money. It's very simple and I've done this with all 3 of my cars and have never had a problem. What I have done is just have the transaction at my house and have a neighbor sit in on it. Actually, I just have my gun under the table in case anything goes wrong. I do all the paperwork at the house and I have the owner drop the car at the house. Then I insure my car, have someone drive me to the DMV, get the car registered and then the car is good to go when you get home and put the stickers on. Sorry for the whole story
TL;DR
Sign all of the papers, make sure you have ownership of the car and bill of sale at the same time that you pay him.
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2006 Ford Mustang GT
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Unread 08-08-2015, 08:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidM1900 View Post
Agree on a price
Have DMV forms in hand, and have the seller fill them out
Get the title from the seller
Go to DMV
Return from DMV, then pay the seller, then drive the car off
You're getting closer, but again, the whole thing goes down in one transaction. You agree on a price, you fill out ALL the forms, make the transaction, and you walk away with everything. The seller walks away with a bill of sale and cash. If you lay out the process you suggested with a seller you're going to look sketchy.
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Unread 08-10-2015, 12:53 PM   #7
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I always drive the vehicle away after the transaction without the plates. 3 vehicles and counting. Bill of sale showing today's date is enough for a police officer to let you go as long as you aren't driving cross country with it.
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Unread 08-10-2015, 07:27 PM   #8
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I always drive the vehicle away after the transaction without the plates. 3 vehicles and counting. Bill of sale showing today's date is enough for a police officer to let you go as long as you aren't driving cross country with it.
Depends on the state too. In Wisconsin the plates stay with you, not the car. Buy a car, put your plates on it.
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