5 key decisions to make before buying a used car sight unseen

Buying sight unseen is scary, use these tools to help you

  1. Inspection: You need to verify that the car is in the same condition as described in the ad.  You can have the seller take the car to a dealer close to them to do an inspection or there are independent inspection companies like WeGoLook.com which will dispatch an inspector to photograph or video the car.
  2. Shipping: Do not under estimate how much it will cost to transport the car to you or how complicated the process of finding a transporter is! There are companies like uShip.com that will help narrow your search options and give you a range of prices to choose from.
  3. Purchase agreement:  Set exact expectations up front with a purchase agreement.  This is often over looked for online purchases. You want to detail in writing, signed by both parties, what exactly is and isn’t included in the sale and the condition of the item. It is better to agree over whether the winter tires are included or are not now than 2 weeks later after the sale is done.
  4. Transfer purchase price:  This is the key point of terror for you, the buyer. The realization that you are going to wire tens of thousands of dollars cross country to a person you do not know for a car you have not touched and HOPE it shows up at your place in 10 days.  Luckily there is a company, PaySAFEescrow.com, that handles this (and all 5 of these items) for you. Pay SAFE Escrow, Inc is an online escrow company that provides an easy to follow online workflow to properly document, track communication and transfer money safely.  PaySAFE holds the purchase amount in escrow until the transaction is complete than PaySAFE releases the funds directly to the seller.
  5. Documentation: Just when you thought you were done, there is more paperwork.  You, the buyer, will need to register the car in your state and transfer ownership.  You will need the seller to sign a Bill of Sale and properly sign the back of the car title to transfer ownership into your name. Make sure the seller has all this documentation completed before the seller receives the funds.


  1. I don’t think I would ever buy a car without seeing it in person first. Thank you for these tips, though! If I ever do need to get one online, I will make sure to check shipping prices and for the right documentation.

  2. Odometer is one important thing you have to get it checked properly when you’re buying a used car. You can make sure the odometer readings are not tampered by verifying the service records.

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