You may need to buy a car or truck, but cannot afford to get a new one. Consequently, you've started to look at the secondhand market and have not yet decided whether to buy from a commercial establishment or a private individual. You know that there are bargains to be had in the private market, but can you be sure of what you're getting? If you are not mechanically minded yourself, can you really trust the other person to give you a good deal?
Underneath the Surface
Most people are honest and open, and few people will look you straight in the face and tell you a lie. In fact, you're going to be very unlucky if you happen to come across somebody like that as you search. However, that's not the biggest challenge, as the seller may simply be unaware of a significant defect if they, like you, are not mechanically minded at all. For example, there may be a significant issue with the transmission which has only recently developed, and while there may not be any tell-tale signs to alert its current owner, the problems could really manifest themselves as soon as you take ownership. In this case, you'd have to spend a lot of your hard-earned money, and this would certainly negate any savings.
Too Much at Risk
Typically, you won't get a guarantee of any sort when you buy from a private seller and will be expected to buy the vehicle "as is." You may be able to argue your case later, but if the seller stands his or her ground, then you may have to go to a small claims court. This could be time-consuming and a lot of hassle.
Before you begin your quest in earnest, it's a good idea for you to have a word with an independent mechanic and see if you can come to an arrangement. Ask them if they will conduct a full, pre-purchase inspection report for you if you come across a vehicle that you are particularly interested in. The seller should be perfectly okay with this as, after all, they will also get to know if there are any problems with their vehicle at no cost to them. If necessary, they can then get this issue fixed before they put the vehicle back onto the market. In fact, it would be particularly advantageous if the mechanic unearthed a problem in its very early stage and when it would be far less costly to fix.
You may be able to renegotiate the price with the seller when you have this type of report in hand. Therefore, you may still be able to get this particular car but will have money in hand to fix the apparent problem, and everybody should be happy.