How to Safely Sell Your Car

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4 Tips for Car-Selling Safety

1. Vet callers thoroughly. When Steve Goddard, former president of the California Association of Realtors, takes a call from someone he’s never met, he makes sure the caller is serious about buying a property and isn’t trying to lure him into a trap to rob him. “I ask them lots of questions about what they are looking for and what their needs are,” he says. “The more I engage them in conversation, the more you get a feel for them.”

2. Don’t go to a meeting alone. It’s that simple, says Rico Fernandez, a lieutenant with the Long Beach Police Department in California. “Take someone with you. People are less apt to harm you if there is someone else there.”

3. Meet in a public place. Goddard says that when he meets someone for the first time, he does so at his office. While you can’t do that when you’re selling a car, you can arrange to meet would-be buyers in a public place, such as a shopping mall parking lot.

4. Trust your gut. Evaluating callers requires a combination of intuition and experience, Goddard says. And if you’re not comfortable meeting with potential buyers under any circumstances, you should turn the sale over to an auto broker or trade in the vehicle. You’ll have to accept that you might not get the best deal, but peace of mind is priceless. So is your life.

If you want to avoid taking any chances with a private-party sale, there’s an alternative here on Edmunds. Appraise your vehicle to get an instant offer, which is good for seven days.

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