How do I find out if a car I am buying from a private party has not been in a accident or been stolen?

UPDATED: Oct 24, 2011

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How do I find out if a car I am buying from a private party has not been in a accident or been stolen?

Asked on October 24, 2011 under General Practice, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) You can use CarFax or similar services that track such information.

2) If the person has the title to transfer to you and the car is registered in his name (you can look at the registration), that is good (not necessarily infallible, but good) evidence he was the owner. Also, if the car is insured in his name (you can ask to see the insurance card), that would be good evidence.

3) You can have the private person represent in writing, prior to closing the sale, that there has been no accidents and the car has not been stolen. If it later turns out that it was, you could hold him legally liable.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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