When it comes to buying cars, this is the time when you do not want life to give you lemons and you make lemonade. When you find a car that seems to fit your budget and is at par to its fair market value, you immediately move in for the kill. But it pays off to be vigilant, especially when a seller is at a rush to dispose of their car, especially when you are buying it at a private sale.

The Hornbook Rule

Hornbook rule: Always ask about a seller’s reason for selling. But there is a caveat: reasons for selling can be concocted—buying a new car, upgrading, or they need the money. These reasons might be false: there may be a problem with the engine, or the car participated in the most recent flood, or the car has been restored after being totaled. Nobody wants to get a totaled car.

Another way of saving money

Running a VIN check or otherwise known as a VHR (Vehicle History Report) can save you money and headaches in the future. Shelling out a few dollars can save you thousands once you get to know about your prospective car’s history. For those willing to pay less for a car that’s a little run down, even if a car has a lot of accident history, you may be able to bargain at a lower price. What’s more, for those who are into caring and maintenance of cars, you would know when to have it serviced. You would also know if the car is in good running condition just by obtaining a vehicle history report because some VIN decoding services include the car’s maintenance history.

The price is low, but why?

When the price is suspiciously low, chances are it might have been stolen. You don’t want anybody going after you and your car a few days after its purchase. Running a VIN check can also trace your car’s ownership history, or whether it was primarily bought from a dealership, or if it was part of a fleet of a company, or if it was a taxi at some point in its life. Knowing a car’s ownership and where it was located at different points in its lifetime would also let you know how much it was used. If it was in a city, you would know that it was probably used everyday going to and from work, so you can conclude that it was mainly utilized for city driving. If it was in sparsely populated states, or it moved from state to state, you could expect that it was either used sparingly or it has had its share of thousands miles of long drives.

Seller’s point of view

On the other side of the coin, if you are a seller, having a vehicle history report at hand can make your life easier. You could sell the car faster because you have proof of its history. If your prospective buyer finds your VIN check well, expect money to come your way.