I am sure you have heard of the website Craigslist by now. This guy named Craig started it as a way to share information with people in the San Francisco area. Long story short, 15 years later the site has established itself in about 700 cities in over 70 countries. It is one of the top 50 visited websites on the internet. It is a pretty good resource to find used equipment, baseball cards, real estate, you name it. One of the better resources is its cars+truck section and this is what we are going to focus on.
#1 Go to the Craigslist website
You will reach a pretty generic page with a list of 100’s of cities and states. If your closest metro area is listed, choose it. If not, pick your state and it will give you a list of areas to choose from.
#2 The ‘For Sale’ section
Under the ‘for sale’ section you will find a listing that says ‘cars+trucks’. This is where you can find almost an unlimited amount of listings. Some listings will be by private owners and some will be from the dealership. Either one is fine and can turn into a great deal for you.
#3 Bring someone with you when dealing with a private owner
When at all possible, have your mechanic friend go with you. Sometimes these guys can get a really good feel for what the car is worth just by starting, looking under the hood at the hoses and what not, and checking underneath for leaks. I can’t stress this enough. It would be worth setting up all your car appointments in one day, buy the mechanic lunch and check out the cars. Most people are honest, but just cover your bases.
#4 Dealer vs. By Owner
There are two people to buy from on this site: dealer or by owner. Buying from a dealership can be good because the dealership has a reputation and a standing in the community. They don’t want you to be unsatisfied, so hopefully they will represent the car in a true fashion. The price from the dealership may be a little bit higher though. The private owner on the other hand could be anything. They could be a con artist or a great person just trying to get a fair price for their car.
#5 Do your research
Pick the cars you are interested in and do some comparison online. It doesn’t take long to find out if what they are asking is too much too little, or just right.
Bottom line: a) go to the site; b) go to the car section; c) pick the cars you want to research; d) do some online research; and e) go check out the car with your mechanic if you can.
The research and the mechanic part are the most important. Try not to skip them.