Lower prices on vehicles advertised on Craigslist can be tempting when you’re searching for a new car. Are these deals too good to be true? What’s the risk associated with buying a car off of a classifieds site like Craigslist? Keep reading to find out what our readers would say are red flags when buying a car on Craigslist, and whether they think it is a good or bad idea.

Is it a good idea to buy cars on Craigslist?

Mark Beneke

Mark Beneke is the owner of Westland Auto Sales in Fresno, CA.

Craigslist comes with Risk

Craigslist can be a great place to find some great deals on vehicles, however, you also have to be extremely careful when doing so.

Craigslist is a marketplace where both businesses and private owners can come and advertise their vehicles. There is nothing wrong with the website itself, but it comes down to there being a higher risk when purchasing from a private party since there are no regulations on these types of transactions.

A dealership needs to meet certain requirements, both on state and federal levels, to sell a vehicle. They are responsible for ensuring the vehicle meets all safety requirements, passes inspections, and must have their dealer license and be in good standing with the board. These requirements make it safer for the buyer as they ensure that the party selling the vehicle has at least inspected the vehicle and made it safe for them.

A private party sale through Craigslist has none of these requirements. They can sell you a vehicle that does not run or has no seatbelts. There have also been many scams run on vehicles sold through craigslist, like selling them without titles with a promise to send it in the mail.

It is very possible to get great deals on Craigslist. Our dealership occasionally purchases vehicles from there when we are running low on inventory, but we understand that it comes at a much higher risk. We recommend you thoroughly inspect the vehicle and have a trusted mechanic do the same. Make sure that all the paperwork is in order upfront and if anything seems fishy, back out immediately.

A Low Price Without a Warranty

Buying a car from a classifieds website like Craigslist is often a gray area. If you’re thinking about searching Craigslist for your next car, it’s important to approach this with caution and common sense.

There are a few good reasons to buy a car from Craigslist.

One is the price. Many people sell their cars for so little because they are desperate and need money quickly. Some of these sellers have had accidents with their vehicles and do not want to go through the time or expense of getting them fixed. Others cannot afford their payments anymore and want to save paying any more on a car they no longer can use, and yet others simply bought a new or used car but need to get rid of their old one as soon as possible.

In situations like these, you may find yourself in an overwhelming position where you feel like you can’t pass up the opportunity when it presents itself.

There are also many reasons why Craigslist isn’t the best place to buy a car for your next vehicle. The ads are open to anyone, so you might never know how the car has been used, what the value is, or any history that may affect its quality. It can be very hard to judge what you are buying when you’re online.

Another risk is that many cars on Craigslist are sold “As Is“ or with no warranty. This means that the seller cannot offer any type of guarantee on how long the car will last after it has been sold. It also means that you may be responsible for any damage or repairs that may occur after you have purchased the vehicle, even if there is something wrong with it as soon as you buy it.

The choice to buy a car from Craigslist should be weighed carefully. You must weigh all of the pros and cons and decide for yourself whether it will work out or not. As long as you are aware of the risks involved, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go ahead with your purchase.

Is it a good idea to buy cars on Craigslist?

Dragos Viteo

Dragos Viteo, an Automotive Engineer for over 12 years and owner of CarPhrases.com.

Is it a good idea to buy cars on Craigslist?

Katherine Brown

Katherine Brown, Founder and Marketing Director at Spyic.

Proceed with Caution

It is a good idea to buy a car from Craigslist because you can get great deals, like spending as little as 30% of the original price. However, ensure that you are careful enough and observe several procedures.

Check that you are buying from the original owner.
Some scammers may use Craigslist to sell other people’s salvaged cars. You have to check the car’s title. It will help you avoid disreputable sellers.

Have a mechanic check the car
A seller may say that their car is in good condition, but do not take their word. Have a mechanic you trust check the car and ascertain that everything is okay. A thorough investigation will give you confidence before you pay for the car.

A Fraction of the Price but a Fraction of the History

Buying a used car is a good way to get a chance of saving a lot of money over a new car. You may spend as little as 20-40% of the original price of the car, while still getting a good vehicle that has years of life left. Craigslist is the most reliable way to connect straight with car owners.

A Craigslist seller maybe won’t have a full vehicle history report ready for you, also they may not let you do financing on it. Other service providers like CARFAX and Auto Check will ordinarily charge a fee to individual sellers, so most won’t go through the stress of getting a report on it. If the car has encountered a lot of harm, they may withdraw from getting the report to show you.

Is it a good idea to buy cars on Craigslist?

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry, Chief Executive Officer at CocoSign.

Is it a good idea to buy cars on Craigslist?

Melanie Musson

Melanie Musson is a vehicle expert with CarInsuranceComparison.com.

Use Craigslist to Find a Local Listing

Craigslist is a good place to look for cars. It’s no better or worse than searching for cars on any online site. Any time you purchase a used vehicle from a private party, you’ll need to do your homework to make sure the car is in the condition it’s advertised.

There’s a risk for a vehicle being a lemon on Craigslist just like there is anywhere else.

Ideally, you’ll search for local vehicles on Craigslist. That way, you can check them out and have them inspected by a dealer without having to invest in a cross-country trip.

If you’re buying a car that’s listed on Craigslist and it seems like a great deal, but it’s 1,500 miles away, I’d caution against spending the money to check it out. Most of the time, if a deal seems too good to be true, it is. If you drove 10 miles to find that out for yourself, you simply wasted a little time.

If you bought a plane ticket and hotel room and found the car not as advertised, not only did you waste time, but you also wasted a lot of money.

Craigslist is no worse or better than any other website to look for vehicles.

Look for a Trusted Seller

Nowadays there are a plethora of sites to purchase cars. Craigslist was one of the first, but believe it or not, it’s still one of the best. The reason why Craigslist is still a great place to find quality used cars is the owner needs to put some effort into his or her posting.

Some are quite basic, and those should be avoided. But an owner who takes the time to upload quality photos, all the relevant details, and an asking price range can (hopefully) be trusted. Do make sure to consult a mechanic or have one on-call to come and check out the car. There are always unscrupulous characters out there.

Patrick Kelly

Patrick Kelly, Head of Content at Vuibo.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.