How to Avoid Buying a Damaged or Stolen Car

So you’re ready to get into a newer car – Awesome! It’s always exciting to find your new vehicle and get something you love. It is also important to be careful when buying used especially though. If a deal looks like it’s too good to be true, you should do a little extra research to be safe. Sometimes if the price is extremely low and things seem a little fishy, there is a reason behind it. Better to take some precautions beforehand than risk purchasing a car with prior body or mechanical issues, or even worse, buying a stolen car. Here’s a few pointers on how to avoid having this happening to you:

  • Be sure to check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) while inspecting the new car – in person if possible. This number is more often than not located on the driver’s dashboard or in the lining of the driver’s door latch. It is a unique 17-character code which can be verified by a car registration website called Be sure to check this to see if it appears authentic, and to see if there are any past accidents that the seller isn’t mentioning, or even to see if it has been reported stolen in the past. Carfax should tell you what you need to know and is a very useful tool!
  • Avoid paying in cash. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting a receipt and title, whether you pay in cash or not – this is the most important thing. Without a title or receipt, you would have no way to prove the car belongs to you. Always be sure to get some sort of paperwork that legally binds the vehicle to you and can be traced back to who you bought it from.
  • Try to get some more information about the seller. If you are emailing, be sure you use your own email address and theirs as well rather than a relay service like Craiglist’s email, as this may make it harder to track the seller if need be.
  • Lastly, if it seems too good to be true, or if things just don’t feel right, don’t go for it. If a deal seems way, way to good to be true, it probably is. Your car is something that should never be an impulse buy, so don’t get bug eyes for the first car you see.
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