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Buying a used car out of state from a private person

I have found a very nice looking 2007 Porsche in Georgia on Autotrader.

I live in Florida. The car has 21,000 miles on it and the car recently had the 20,000 dealer service and the seller has the service record. So, does that mean I wouldn’t need an independent inspection, given the recent servicing of the car?

Also, since I live in Florida, If I buy the car, how/where do I get a license plate to drive the car from Atlanta back down to Florida? Do I bring a Florida license plate off my current vehicle with me?


You are dealing with a total stranger, you cannot takes his statements at face value. There are many used car scams out there, including dealers falsly representing themselves as a ‘private person’. So yes, you have to have this car inspected, and I would also do a Carfax, just to see if any problems crop up.

Carfax is clean.It states the car is worth $900 more than retail.

Talk to your local DMV office about buying a car from out of state.

Your decision on the inspection, I probably wouldn’t bother if I saw all the paperwork, the car looked good and no check engine light is on.

But if I were paying a lot of money for a Porsche, I’d research any known issues with that year Cayman and do what it takes to make sure this one doesn’t have that problem.

That’s what I was thinking too. I’m going to Florida DMV. Maybe they will give me a sticker to put on the rear window as a temporary plate.

Understand how to use Carfax.

If Carfax reports prior incidents, then you know it had those incidents.
if Carfax doesn’t report prior incidents, then you do not know if it had any prior incidents.
A clean Carfax report should only make you feel “slightly better”, but definitely not enough to let your guard down and ignore normal due-diligence.

As texases noted, there are many used car scams out there.
With a purchase this large and far away, wouldn’t you want to do enough legwork to put the odds in your favor that this isn’t one of them.

I’ve bought a few out-of-state vehicles without problems. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Talk to the seller over the phone. Email only contacts are typically a scam. A phone conversation is no guarantee of legitimacy but it helps.
  2. Agree to a price and both parties sign a sales agreement (exchanged via scanned emails).
  3. Pay for a pre-purchase inspection. I prefer independent mechanics over dealers. This can be paid over the phone with a credit card. Have them also verify the VIN and review the repair receipts.
  4. Ask the seller for his bank name, address and phone number. Call the bank manager and tell them about the transaction. Wire transfer the funds to a custodial account in your name.
  5. If you are not picking up the vehicle, arrange for a shipping company to transport it.
  6. The seller shows up at the bank with the car, keys, free and clear title. He presents these to the bank manager and they transfer the funds from your account to his. Both parties are protected.
  7. If you are picking up the car in person, do the transfer at the bank in person.
  8. The DMV of the seller’s state will sell you a temp tag (or transit tag) so you can drive it home. Don’t forget your proof of insurance!

Hope this helps.


Twotone: That’s great advice.

I agree that Twotone has given a wealth of good advice, but I question one point in his post, namely:

"4. Ask the seller for his bank name, address and phone number. Call the bank manager and tell them about the transaction. Wire transfer the funds to a custodial account in your name. "

In the aftermath of The Patriot Act, opening a bank account may not be possible over the phone, as was implied. Nowadays, banks tend to want to see and make copies of things like a Driver’s License and possibly other information. I know from past experience with some mutual fund houses that, even though they will open an account via the mail, there is frequently a delay while they do some kind of background check on the person opening the account.

So–opening this Custodial Account may be as easy as was implied, or it could be something that requires the account holder to do in person–with a possible delay in order to prevent money laundering.

Yes. It helps. Thanks!

To tell you the truth, the whole thing sounds like one big headache. The car photos look really nice and the Carfax came up really good…

As others have said, a clean Carfax means very little, and photos can avoid trouble spots. It may be fine, but it might not. Buyer beware, especially in a case like this. Have you googled the VIN to see what pops up?

No. I will try that. Thanks!

Here’s a question - why are you interested in it? There’s gotta be lots of Caymans in Florida, a lot closer to you. Is it because of an especially low price? That’s another scam warning sign.

Not with these options. The price is not low.

OK, then it’s probably OK, but I would still get it inspected if it were me.


What one person considers excellent may not be what another person thinks. The mileage is very decent for an '07 but consideration should be given to how those 21k miles were put on there. Babied or mostly at the hands of a Michael Schumacher wannabe?

Original tires gone already? Lot of wear on the clutch pedal rubber? Lot of scuffing on the gearshift selector knob? See where I’m going with this?
Inspection before purchase no matter what flowery praise is attached to an ad.

The seller just put 4 new Michelin tires on the vehicle ($1600) and had the 20,000 mile service.

The car is an automatic.

Of course, even so, I have no idea of how rough or not he was with the car. However, the pictures show me a well-cared for vehicle. He even has a car cover for it-which he had in several photos covering the vehicle.

" Do I bring a Florida license plate off my current vehicle with me? "

NEVER do that!! If you get stopped, the car will be impounded… Buy a Ga or FLA temporary tag.

CASH still works for deals like this…Have a body shop inspect the car to be sure no part of it has been repainted. Of course, you are aware you are buying a high-maintenance money pit…