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Toyota Used Car Buying Tips - Private Seller - Toyota Parts Blog

Buying a used car from a private seller can often be a stressful and time consuming process that will leave you drained. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips to when looking at a used car.

Toyota Used Car Buying Tips - Private Seller

Looking at buying a used Toyota vehicle from a private seller? Here are some tips to help.

For most buyers, the big question is always, “is this vehicle reliable?” That is a big question with used cars since all of them come with miles on them and, quite often, the warranty has expired. While, you can kick the tires and pop the hood, it is often hard to know how reliable it will be. In order to really get a good sense on reliability, it takes time, money and common sense. However, doing your homework now can save you time and money down the road.

Used Car Inspection

Prior to buying a used car, it is a good idea to take it to your local mechanic or a third-party mechanic for an inspection. This professional inspection can alert you to items you may have never thought to check. Plus, the inspection report will give you a better idea of what maintenance items are due and what issues you could be facing down the road. Lastly, having a professional check it out will give you a lot more peace of mind.

Listen to the Seller

If you are buying a car privately, listen to the seller and try to pick up clues on the vehicle’s true condition. Also, ask lots of questions and really listen to their responses. In many ways, you are trying to be a detective and trying to pick up on any subtle clues.

One of the big items you always want to ask is “why is this person selling this car?” This is critical to you. If the seller says, I need a bigger car to transport my kids and you don’t notice any signs of children, this is a red flag. If it doesn’t immediately make sense to you why the person is selling the car, then there is probably a bigger issue going on.

Consider Long-Term Reliability Issues

Quite often a basic, 4-door sedan will be an easy car to inspect and get a good feel for the long-term reliability of it. However, other vehicles, such as those with lots of modifications, will take longer. Consider these general rule of thumb items about vehicles:

  • Manual transmissions will need clutch replacements throughout their life, while automatic transmissions won’t.
  • After-market supercharged and turbocharged vehicles (sports cars) are generally less reliable since the owner probably drove it fast and hard.
  • Vehicles with lots of after-market parts are generally less reliable. The truth is that manufactures do a pretty good job of making sure their parts will last a long time. After-market parts suppliers simply don’t. They don’t generally have the resources or time to put into testing their parts. If you see a vehicle with lots of after-market parts (parts that don’t have the manufacture label), be more cautious.

Vehicle History Report

You may not know that Carfax and other vehicle history report companies are available at more than just a dealer. Anybody selling a used car can get a vehicle history report. Ask for it. If the seller tells you that they will give it to you after you buy the car, something isn’t right.

Another thing to look at one the Carfax report is to make sure the odometer matches up. Generally, this report will state the mileage at various points in the vehicles life. If the owner has had the car several years, but the odometer only shows a few hundred miles difference, this is your clue that something isn’t right.

This is also a good tip if you are planning on selling your own car. Get a Carfax report before you list it for sale and be prepared to talk about the items on it.

While any car can turn into a lemon, these tips will help you make a better decision when buying your next used car.

Written by Tim Esterdahl