by Andrew Rohrlich

Selling a car privately can be a rewarding experience. However, there are some risks of which you should be aware. These risks relate to buyer identity, information security, vehicle history, personal safety, test drives, title transfers, property storage, liability releases, and transaction records.

Protecting yourself from these risks can ensure that things go smoothly before, during, and after the sale. Check out these nine tips concerning how to protect yourself when selling a car privately.

9 Tips To Protect Yourself When Selling a Car Privately

If you want to know how to sell a car privately while protecting yourself, you should take a few extra steps to err on the side of caution.

The following selling car tips can help protect you physically, financially, and legally and offer you the safest way to sell a car.

1. Screen and Verify Your Prospective Buyers

Screening and verifying prospective buyers will help save you time and energy and ensure your safety. Screen potential buyers by requesting their full name and location and asking them how they intend to pay for the automobile.

Legitimate buyers will provide their full name and secure forms of payment when purchasing a motor vehicle. Online payments are the best form of payment when selling a car. Certified money orders are also acceptable. A personal check typically will not suffice. Verify your potential buyers' identities by requesting they send a copy of their driver's licenses.

2. Avoid Giving Prospective Buyers Secure Personal Information

To better understand how to protect yourself when selling a car privately, limit the information you give to potential buyers. You may have 20 people interested in buying your vehicle. If you give all 20 of them your real name, phone number, and email, you could jeopardize your and your family's safety.

You only need to provide your real name toward the end of the sale when filling out official documents. Thus, when speaking with prospective buyers, use a nickname. Set up a virtual phone number so that you call or receive text messages online. Also, create an email account to talk to potential buyers exclusively.

3. Disclose Vehicle History and Maintenance Records

Providing your potential buyers with vehicle history and maintenance records can protect you financially. It can ensure that your buyers know about all your vehicle's damages and when it received specific repair and maintenance services.

Viewing this information can help buyers ascertain whether your car is worth purchasing. In addition, it can facilitate negotiation processes so you are paid a fair amount for your vehicle. A buyer well-informed about a vehicle's history and service record will probably not seek a refund because they knew the vehicle's condition and maintenance routine before the private sale.

4. Take Safety Precautions When Meeting the Buyer

Be careful when meeting your buyer in person. If your buyer chooses to come to you, ask if they will meet you in a public place, such as a mall parking lot, so you can conduct the sale while other people are present.

Your home is not an ideal place for you and your buyer to meet because it is a private space. If your buyer asks that you come to them, request that you meet them in a public parking lot near their location.

Before leaving, inform your family members or friends where you will be. Refrain from picking up or dropping off your buyer at a particular spot because that could lead to physical safety and legal problems.

5. Accompany the Buyer During Test Drive

Are you wondering how to let someone test drive your car? Being present during the test drive stage protects you financially because it can prevent theft and destruction. Your buyer will feel less inclined to do anything risky with your vehicle if you are with them as they drive.

Also, you can mitigate the risk of damage if you are in the vehicle. You can point out your car's safety features, such as the backup camera or emergency braking system, and stop them from making dangerous choices on the road. You could also bring another person when meeting the buyer for a test drive. That person could contact law enforcement if anything goes wrong.

6. Only Hand Over Vehicle Title After Payment Is Confirmed

Relinquish ownership of your motor vehicle only after confirming that your buyer has paid you the agreed-upon price. Giving your vehicle title to the buyer before securing payment could result in legal issues, such as car title disputes.

Let your buyer know that you will only transfer your vehicle title once you receive your specified funds, so they do not anticipate getting the title before paying you.

7. Remove All Personal Items From the Car Ahead of Time

Before meeting your buyer, remove all your personal belongings from your car. Many people keep important and valuable items in their vehicles, such as proof of insurance forms, aux cords, cables, toolboxes, and spare tires.

By removing these items before the sale, you can prevent your buyer from accidentally taking them once they become the official owner of the car. You also avoid legal problems, because you may have to attend court to retrieve personal property you left in a vehicle you no longer own.

8. Inform the DMV That You've Sold Your Car for Release of Liability

Complete a release of liability process so that your local DMV knows you have officially sold your car and are no longer responsible if any incidents involving the vehicle arise.

If you get a release of liability, you will dodge legal obstacles. Such obstacles include being held liable for the parking or traffic violations your buyer committed. The proper steps you must take to get a release of liability from the DMV may vary from state to state.

9. Keep a Record of the Transaction

Maintaining records at each stage of your private car sale will help you comprehend how to protect yourself when selling a car privately. Keeping records can help you avoid liability once the vehicle sale is complete.

Keep print or electronic copies of your vehicle history report, maintenance records, odometer disclosure, and bill of sale. You will want copies of your vehicle history report and maintenance records to show what you provided to the buyer in court if the vehicle's condition ever comes into question.

Your odometer disclosure form will have your vehicle identification number and other information; it will help you prove that the vehicle's mileage was a specific number at the time of sale. Your bill of sale will list the terms and conditions of the transaction, including purchase price and vehicle delivery date, so you can prove that a transaction did indeed take place.

This article was written by Andrew Rohrlich. As a brand and product marketing expert, Andrew Rohrlich has crafted products, experiences and communications for household names like Gap and for multiple automotive technology businesses. For nearly a decade Andrew has studied automotive retail in depth from a customer point of view and aggregated the industry’s best research, thought leadership and know how to provide credible and important information to auto shoppers and sellers.

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