When you are selling a used vehicle, you have to ensure that you get the best price and not get ripped off. Thousands of people sell their used cars privately each year, and only a small percentage of these will have any issues with their buyer. However, you certainly do not want to be included in that percentage, so follow these tips for a safe transaction, and always trust your instincts.
Meet in Public Places
If you don’t want to give your home address out to a prospective buyer then arrange to meet them somewhere public with lots of people around, the likes of a local mall or parking lot. Be careful when choosing a location, however, as in some public areas it is prohibited to engage in commercial activities. If you do decide to meet the buyer at your home, let someone else know the prospective buyer’s details and the time you expect to meet them, or ask someone else to be present during the transaction.
Discussion on whether you should go along on a test drive with the buyer or not are mixed, but if you don’t go along, you are putting a lot of faith in a stranger to return your car. If you do decide to go on the test drive, make sure you take your cell phone with you, and if possible, have a friend follow you just in case anything happens. Alternatively, you could ask the buyer to leave their own vehicle keys behind as security although this is not a good idea if the vehicle you are selling is of a significantly higher value than theirs. Before allowing anyone to go on a test drive, you should check that they have a full and valid driving license.
Before you offer to sell your car, you should try to make sure that it is in the best mechanical state possible. Get all of your paperwork in order and ensure that you have copies of any documentation for parts that were recently replaced or any manufacturer’s warranties that are still valid. Retain copies of this documentation just in case the buyer claims that the vehicle has broken down after purchase. Make sure that you are clear in your advert about any issues with the car and offer to let the buyer have a mechanic check the vehicle prior to purchase.
Bill of Sale
It is possible to download a legal contract or bill of sale for a car from the Internet or you could consult with an attorney. Having a legal contract offers you protection and you should make two copies, one each for you and the buyer. Insert an “as is” or “sold as seen” clause to avoid any problems caused by later complaints about the car.
If possible go with the buyer to arrange the transfer of the car registration. Once the transfer is complete and the buyer has their temporary tags, remove your own license plates and registration sticker from the vehicle. If you can’t go with the buyer to arrange the transfer, check whether your state has an online registration form where you can advise them of a change of ownership. Normally this must be done within 30 days of the sale, but you should do it as soon as possible to keep yourself from being held liable for any accidents or tickets the new owner receives.
The whole point of selling your vehicle is to get the money, so make sure that you don’t become the victim of a fraud. Be clear in your advert what forms of payment you will accept. Cash is the best form of payment, but often the value of the transaction is too high. If you accept a personal check, then you need to make an arrangement with the buyer to complete the sale after the check has cleared, which may not be acceptable to them, as they want to protect their own interests. A cashiers check is the best form of payment, but it is equally possible to forge them so consider meeting at the buyer’s bank, where you can witness the check being certified.