Buying a Car From a Private Seller

Buying a car from a private seller can be daunting, but we have all the information you need to get what you want.

Are you looking for a new car but are unsure where to begin? With so many different options, it can be daunting, particularly if you do not know if you want to buy a new or used vehicle.

Price is one of the biggest factors to decide on, and sometimes a brand-new or nearly-new car can be too expensive for your needs and budget. Many people have looked to purchase from private sellers because of this.

There are various platforms that private sellers can advertise the sale of their vehicles on now, which can be difficult to navigate and decide what is legitimate or not.

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If you find a vehicle from a private seller you like, the positive is that you can talk to them in depth about their car and hopefully gain all the information you need from it before deciding to buy it.

However, that is easier said than done, and it's therefore important for you to understand and research ahead of time so you know what you're getting yourself into and what to look out for.

Know what car you want

Knowing what car you want and how much you're prepared to pay is half of the battle. Once you have identified those two bits of information, it makes your task of tracking the vehicle down that much easier.

If you aren't 100% sure, you could create a shortlist of three to five cars you like the look of and view them in person to understand what you want in your vehicle.

Check the address of the seller

When you've decided what you want and identified a seller, you'll want to inspect the car inside and out to ensure that it looks as it does in the pictures you should have seen online.


That is likely the main stumbling point for most people buying a used car from a private seller; they want it to look good. However, another important thing to look out for that people are unaware of is if the seller's address matches that in the vehicle's V5 logbook.

You would highly expect the two to match, and you should expect to view the car at the seller's home address, so if the same address is not in the logbook that comes with the car, that can be an indication that something isn't quite right and you should think twice about the purchase.

Request to see the paperwork

When buying privately, they should also provide you with all the documentation to support the car, proving that the vehicle is theirs and they have a right to sell it.

A seller should have no issue with you asking this and subsequently them providing it, as that's all part of the selling process. If, for whatever reason, they are unable to, then that's a strong indication that you shouldn't go through with the sale.

You should also ask - and be confident - that the vehicle you are buying doesn't have any outstanding car finance, as this could make the process difficult for you down the line.

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Ask for a test drive

Once you have viewed the car and decided it is for you, you should request a test drive to be 100% certain you want to commit and pay for it. 

It's not uncommon for you to request this, though you should expect the seller to accompany you in the car, as they will no doubt be a little wary of you driving off without paying for it first.

You will be confident about buying the vehicle once you've taken it for a spin yourself, and as it will shortly be your vehicle, why should you not have a drive around in it to be sure you are completely happy?

It will allow you to test the steering, brakes, suspension, and all of the other technical parts that come with driving a car, giving you peace of mind that it's not going to conk out on you the moment you part with your cash.


Is it safe buying a car from a private seller?

Buying a car from a private seller is safe providing you follow the above checks to ensure that what they are selling you is as advertised. When going to inspect the car in person, take a friend or relative to make you feel more comfortable.

What's the benefit of buying a car from a private seller?

If you buy a car from a private seller rather than a dealer, you may be able to negotiate a more favourable price to suit your budget. You will also be able to find the exact make and model that you want without the added pressure from a dealer.