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Used cars can be purchased at places other than dealerships. Private sellers advertise in the classified sections of city, regional and neighborhood newspapers. Be aware, however, that unlicensed dealers advertise in the classified section as well. Another name for an unlicensed dealer is a curbstoner (they sell cars from the street-curb instead of from a car lot). Curbstoners are people who make money from buying a used car and reselling it. Here are some tips for identifying a curbstoner:
Curbstoners do not comply with state or federal laws and you have no protection in your dealings with them. Buying from a curbstoner increases your risk of not being able to get the vehicle title transferred, or of getting a car which has been previously wrecked or which has a "rolled back" odometer. If you suspect you are dealing with a curbstoner please contact the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) at:
Ohio Bureau Of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 16784
Columbus, OH 43216-6784
Each year approximately three million used cars have their odometers rolled back an average of 30,000 miles.
A BMV investigator tells a true story of someone who drilled a hole right through the plastic covering on the odometer to roll the odometer numbers back. Obviously he got caught, but most "roll backs" are more sophisticated.There are some things you can check to see of the odometer is correct.
Click here for more information on Odometer Tampering.
When purchasing a used car it's best to have a mechanic look at it. Even if you are spending less than $1,000 on the car, a mechanic's inspection could save you money.
If you don't want to spend the extra money on the mechanic, check it yourself. Take a friend or relative with you to help.
Make sure everything works. Radio, heater, windshield wipers, cigarette lighter, rear window defogger, and horn. Try all the windows. Test the headlights, taillights, flashers, backup lights, brake lights, turn signals, and parking lights. Check for proper seatbelt operation.
The brakes. While driving 30 to 40 mph, being certain there is no one behind you, apply the brakes three or four times. If you get a consistent pull, either left or right, while the brakes are being applied, there is a problem. Check brake fluid level. A low level may indicate a brake problem.
The tires. Check the tread for depth of wear, the tire sizes for matching, and for any other obvious damage. All the tires should be evenly worn. Uneven wear could mean neglect, abuse, improper wheel alignment or bent front-end components.
Under the hood. Check all hoses. Examine the battery for leaks. Check the oil dipstick (if the oil is dark and dirty, the car may not have been properly maintained). If the car has an automatic transmission, check the transmission fluid to see if it is dark colored or has a burned odor (it should be a reddish color).
Before finalizing the deal and paying for the vehicle, be sure to get all the necessary papers to title your vehicle. You will need the following items:
When you go to a title office they will assist you in transferring the title.
There is a penalty if the new owner does not change the title into their name within 30 calendar days from the date of assignment. The penalty is $5.00 in addition to all other appropriate fees.
After a vehicle has been titled, you must go to a Deputy Registrar to obtain a new set of license plates for your vehicle, unless you are transferring plates from another vehicle.