- Ask For Photos
- Run A History Report
- Consider The Region
- Take A Pre-Purchase Inspection
- Getting It Home
- Consider Additional Costs
- Be On The Lookout For Fraud
- The Bottom Line
When you are buying a car unseen, it can be difficult to know what to look for. Thankfully, there are some easy steps that you can take to help you stay safe from frauds and scams in the process. This article will take you through the process of buying a car unseen and what to look for when you're considering this type of purchase.
Ask For Photos
This is one of the first things that you should try when considering buying a car online without seeing it. Photos are not enough to make a decision on your own, but they can give you an idea of the general shape and condition of the vehicle. Ask if you can have them taken while inside the car with all lights on. If they refuse, that could be warning sign number one.
If photos are all that is available – or if there are no photos at all – ask for video footage instead! Always insist on seeing pictures or videos before moving forward with any negotiation process.
Run A History Report
Before you consider purchasing a used car that is outside of your local market area, run a history report and save the results. You can ask the seller for a CARFAX report to give you information about the car’s history. The seller doesn’t want to give this report; it could be a sign that has something to hide.
It's worth doing a history report (or multiple reports) to check for any signs of fraud. If someone does not have a license, a previous owner that is the same person, or if there is any kind of accident in the vehicle's history – this is a red flag. If you are buying a car sight unseen and it has been involved in accidents that you aren't aware of – this can be incredibly harmful to your financial situation down the road. Always do an online history report or two before you make your decision!
Consider The Region
North Carolina and South Carolina are notorious for rusting metal on older model vehicles. Areas that are more humid, like the southeast, tend to rust faster than vehicles in drier regions like Colorado or Nevada. If you are going to buy a vehicle located in an area where rust is a concern, have the car triple-inspected before purchase.
Take A Pre-Purchase Inspection
This is one of the most important aspects of buying a car unseen. The fact that you are buying a car unseen means that you don't have the opportunity to do your own inspection before you buy it. This makes it hard to know if there are issues with the vehicle that weren't visible beforehand.
Always take advantage of car pre-purchase inspections when handling these kinds of purchases because they allow you to see if there are issues with the vehicle's body or condition – in ways that photos and videos can't show!
This is the most important part of buying a used car unseen. Bring in a professional, certified mechanic to inspect the vehicle and provide you with a detailed report. The mechanic will inspect and test the following.
- Drivetrain or Engine – Run an expertly performed diagnostic test to ensure that everything operates properly.
- Brakes – Brake performance is always important, but even more so when your vehicle’s condition is unknown. If there is significant brake fade, feel for any heat or moisture on the rotors. Leaking calipers can mean a severe brake issue.
- Exhaust/Hood/Hood Latch – A compromised exhaust system can mean serious problems with your car’s performance. An expert should check the exhaust system before purchase to ensure the continued performance of the vehicle.
- Brake Lights – If the car has functioning lights but no way to activate them, this could be a sign of other mechanical issues.
- Tires – Check front and rear tires for uneven wear, bulges, or anything else that may indicate vehicle ride quality problems.
- Starter/Alternator/Battery – A test of the starting motor should be performed to ensure the battery’s charge capacity is on par with what is required for normal operation. If there are any issues, the mechanic will know about them and report them.
Getting It Home
If the vehicle is located out of the area, see if you can arrange to have it delivered right to your door. If this isn't possible, arrange for transportation costs ahead of time and make sure that they are paid for by someone else. Never take possession of a car without having a transporter or shipping company come to your door first!
Consider Additional Costs
Keep in mind that you won't be paying sales tax on a vehicle purchased out-of-state, but other fees may be associated with the transaction. These could include registration fees, title fees, and shipping costs. Always analyze the total cost of the car and make sure that those additional costs are considered before making any decisions about buying a car unseen.
Be On The Lookout For Fraud
If the person selling the car is reluctant to have you come to their location, they may be trying to hide something. This could be fraud, or it could be a huge problem. If they seem nervous or they are too eager to have you make a decision on the spot – walk away because these things can lead to harmful situations down the road if you are not careful.
The Bottom Line
When buying a car unseen, always make sure that the conditions of sale are in writing and that there is a clear delivery date stated. These things will protect both parties from fraud and any shady business practices that can come into play during these types of transactions. I hope this guide gave you vast information about how to buy a car sight unseen.