A Guide to Buying a Car on Gumtree

Buying a car on Gumtree is a hugely common thing to hear about in this day and age. The platform is renowned for being free to use for private sellers, meaning that practically anyone selling a car has a good reason to get on it with absolutely nothing to lose. That does mean however that there is a surplus of cars available to buy on GumTree. As a result, not all of them are up to scratch if they are legitimate in the first place.

As pre-purchase vehicle inspectors, we work with cars that are being sold across all platforms, including on Gumtree. This is our step by step guide with tips on each stage of the process. 

1 Find a Car

The first thing to do whether you’re buying a car on Gumtree or eBay, from an online seller, or from a dealership in person, has to be to find the car that you like the look of. It tends to follow a relatively similar process, too. Generally speaking, it starts with knowing what kind of car you want, what you need to use it for, and what you can afford to pay for it. This is what will narrow down the search. Once you have this bit of the process done, you can move more into the specifics of buying a car on Gumtree. 

As a platform, Gumtree gives you a few different options to refine your vehicle search. When you’re first at the vehicle menu, you have the option of filtering by Make, Model, and Min/Max Prices only. That’s a slim list compared to other platforms. There is a way to add specific keywords, too. On the search listing page, however, you then have all of the extras you need, like mileage, year, body type, fuel type, engine size… the list goes on. Use all of these as best you can to find 3-5 vehicles you like the look of, and then it’s a good time to go to step 2.

2 Check out the Seller

Once you have a selection of potential cars that fit your criteria, the next step is to help make sure they’re viable options at all. To do that, we always recommend taking a look at the seller, and everything that you can do about them and their vehicle or selling history. The easiest place to start is by using Gumtree’s feature to look at all other ads that they have listed previously or have running at the same time.

In an ideal situation, they will probably have just one vehicle listing, since people don’t generally tend to sell multiple vehicles at one time unless they are doing so professionally. It can also be reassuring to take a look at how long the user has been using the platform too, which is says next to the seller’s name on the Gumtree listing. That’s very helpful.

Of course, not all sellers on Gumtree are private sellers. Many professional sellers also use the platform to reach all of the thousands of buyers that use the platform every single day. You’ll be able to see usually from the info in their listings, and from how many ads they have all at the same time. For these sellers, make sure to inspect the reviews for the business, and see what their other listings are like too. Always make sure you trust who you are buying from as much as you can do.

3 Speak with the Seller

After you have decided that the seller is worth your time and that you have seen something that catches your eye, it’s usually at this point where we would recommend that you reach out to the seller on the platform. Buying a car on Gumtree means that you have access to their on-platform messaging service that is automatically on the listing page, with a pre-written message ready to send. This is where we would always recommend you ask some of the most popular questions that are asked when buying any car. 

The most common are things like how many owners it has had, and how it has been driven, perhaps the reason for selling, and anything else that might be important to you or not really mentioned within the listing itself. Any seller looking to get rid of their car properly will likely be more than happy to accommodate any questions that you have. It’s here where you can get a slightly better feel for the seller too, and see if there is anything that you begin to find suspicious.

4 Inspect The Vehicle

Once you have your finalists that have proved to be what you’re looking for and the sellers seem like the real deal, the next thing to do is to check out the vehicle itself. Inspecting a vehicle can be done to any standard that you feel is worthwhile in reality. There are high standard professional services out there for 100 – 200 like us at Carexamer, or you can go yourself or take a friend or family member with you to just get a general feel. It all depends on what it is worth to you, how much risk you can afford to take, and how you feel about the vehicle.

Any inspection should generally have all of the usual suspects covered. Check for things like the tyre health, the MOT history, and cosmetic issues, how it runs, anything that flags up while you are driving, and the general condition of the car against what you have read about it. You can use anything that you find to negotiate the price of the vehicle (which is often why inspections pay for themselves tenfold), or even more dramatically still, stop you from buying a hugely expensive mistake that will prove to be a lemon in the near future. Check everything you feel comfortable checking.

5 Make an Offer

Next, if you have gotten this far and you are happy with everything up to now, the next logical place to go is to make an offer to the seller. Again, make sure you really use everything that you have learned so far about the vehicle both online and offline and offer only what you should. Try not to let emotions get too involved, as car buying is of course a highly scary and exciting situation at the same time.

Make sure that you have seen the car in person, and that the car is legitimate too. It should be more than a reasonable request for you to ask about the documentation for the vehicle and anything else that might be useful to you as the owner of the new vehicle, and reflect your offer based on the info that comes back to you. All in all, it’s just up to you and what you want to pay. Be firm, but also reasonable where possible.

6 Make the Sale

Finally, the only thing left to do is to actually make the purchase. You can do this in a range of different ways just like you can do with any vehicle purchase, but always, always make sure that you are being as safe as you can be. If you are paying in cash, then make sure you are somewhere public or with someone else just in case, there is anything dodgy afoot. 

If you’re paying online, that’s fine too, but still, follow all of the basic rules of online buying. Only use payment methods that you are comfortable with, especially if you have never heard of the method that the seller wants to use. That’s even more important if it is just something that they have sent to you via text or email, as it could be a scam. Paypal or a direct bank transfer is often the best way to go about it. Whichever you do, make sure that you are around the vehicle and the keys, ideally sign a contract with the other party, and keep everything as protected as you can. Book Car Inspection.