An alternative to buying from a dealer is buying from an individual. You may see ads in newspapers, on bulletin boards or on a car. Buying a car from a private party is very different from buying a car from a dealer.
Buying a Used Car: Before You BuyBuying a Used Car: Dealer SalesBuying a Used Car: Payment OptionsBuying a Used Car: Warranties and Service ContractsBuying a Used Car: If You Have Problems
- Private sellers are generally not covered by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Used Car Rule and don't have to use the Buyer’s Guide (The FTC requires dealers to post a Buyer’s Guide in every used car they offer for sale). However, you can use the Guide's list of an auto's major systems as a shopping tool. You can also ask the seller if you can have the vehicle inspected by your mechanic.
- Private sales usually are not covered by the "implied warranties" of state law. That means a private sale probably will be on an "as-is" basis, unless your purchase agreement with the seller specifically states otherwise. If you have a written contract, the seller must live up to the promises stated in the contract. The car may also be covered by a manufacturer's warranty or a separately purchased service contract. However, warranties and service contracts may not be transferable, and other limits or costs may apply. Before you buy the car, ask to review its warranty or service contract. Many states do not require individuals to ensure that their vehicles will pass state inspection or carry a minimum warranty before they offer them for sale. Ask your state attorney general's office or local consumer-protection agency about the requirements in your state.