So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons of trading in your used car, and decided to opt for a private used car sale. This type of sale can likely get you more money for your car, but it also raises some safety considerations you likely wouldn’t think about if you are trading in to a dealership.
Listing your used car for sale
Most used car shoppers start their search online, and end up sifting through a lot of listings before making a short list of vehicles they think are worth going to see in person. Remember – you’re not the only one that’s thinking of their own personal safety during the sale, and one way for buyers to stay safe is to test drive as few vehicles as possible. Increase the odds that your vehicle will make the short list by including as much information in the listing as possible.
There are certain things used car shoppers want to know about a used car. What’s happened in the vehicle’s history? Has it been in an accident? How does that affect its value? What kind of condition is the vehicle in? How many owners has it had? Has it been serviced regularly? Many online Canadian used car listings come with a CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report that can fill in the blanks on this information and more. As well, this history report comes with a free History-Based Value report – this provides you with a value that’s specific to your vehicle based on the unique history that appears in the vehicle history report, helping with setting your price. Make your listing competitive, and respect the buyer’s time and safety concerns by including all this information in your listing without making them ask for it.
Meeting with the buyer
Before meeting with the buyer, do some research into who they are and what they’re all about. There is nothing wrong with asking them to text you a photo of their identification in advance of the test drive, and doing a bit of online background research in advance. Ask them a bunch of questions about what they’re looking for in a vehicle, and trust your gut if things don’t feel right. Try and communicate with them via text when you’re discussing the vehicle details and setting up your meeting. Emails can be anonymous – it’s easier to track someone down through a cell phone number if you ever need to do so.
Now it’s time for the actual meeting, which is the point in the process when you should be most aware of your physical safety. Always meet with the buyer in a public place, during daylight hours, no matter what. It’s pretty common for buyers and sellers to meet in the parking lot of a police station or fire hall to make the process more public and safe. Check in with your local police station to see if they allow/encourage this, and if not, ask if there are alternative meeting places they recommend.
Speak with the buyer ahead of time about how you plan to arrange the test drive. Do you have to be in the car with them? If they’re willing to leave you a piece of ID as collateral, will you let them test drive the vehicle on their own? These are all decisions that you’ll have to make in partnership with the buyer.
This probably goes without saying, but if you decide to be in the car with the buyer, bring your phone with you and make sure it’s fully charged. Use your cell phone to let someone at home track your location, and ask them to keep an eye on where you are at what time. Make sure they know when the test drive will start and the general route you’re planning – the specifics may change a bit based on where the buyer wants to go, but never let them convince you to travel far off course, and if they do, stay in contact with home and let them know about proposed changes.
Check out the vehicle they showed up in, and text a photo of it, its license plate and the buyer themselves to your person at home.
Finalizing the sale
There are different rules and regulations for finalizing a private used car sale in every province, but regardless of where you live, you’ll have to meet with the buyer face-to-face at some point. Be smart about what kind of payment to accept, and never sign over ownership of a vehicle without confirming the payment is legitimate.
Most situations involve meeting with the buyer to transfer the vehicle’s ownership at a government office. If a buyer tries to convince you to meet ahead of time in the parking lot to change over your documentation, don’t do it! Sign the documents in the government office.