When you are looking at the vehicle, try to ask the seller as many questions as possible. Here a few of my favorite questions to ask:
Does it have a clear, in state title?
Salvage or rebuilt titles can deter buyers, and you’ll want to make sure that the title has not liens or loan payoffs required in order to obtain the title. You’ll also want to know if the title will require out of state processing, which could require a notary.
Is the title in your name?
If the seller doesn’t own the car, and they don’t have power of attorney from the owner, they legally can’t sell it. Don’t fall for any “well my mom said I could sign for her” stuff. That will open you up to all kinds of legal liability.
Are there any mechanical problems? If so, specifically what are the mechanical problems?
Something that the seller considers a small problem might actually be a big problem. Make sure you ask specific questions. This question usually sniffs out major issues that the seller hasn’t already disclosed.
What is your reason for selling?
Beware if the reason for selling is questionable. Ideal answers to this question are “we just don’t need an extra vehicle” and “we needed a car for the winter and this car is rear wheel drive”.
If you don’t trust the seller or feel like the seller is not being honest, walk away. Your instincts are likely to be correct. If the seller tries to talk quickly or avert your attention while you are inspecting the vehicle, beware. The more questions you can ask about the vehicle, the better equipped you will be to make a sound purchase.