Selling a Car Sucks. Here’s How to Safely Sell Your Car to Anyone

If I’m being honest, I don’t like selling cars. If I had it my way I’d just keep collecting them, but I’m probably in the minority there. Odds are, you’ve realized what a stressful experience the whole ordeal can be. Negotiating is never fun, and tire-kickers make life hard, especially in this market. Honestly, there’s a lot of ways for you to end up on your ass if you’re selling. This is how to do it safely.

Location, location, location

A Ford dealer with models lined up out front
Dealerships aren’t a bad place to sell your own cars | Smith Collection via Getty Images

First off, if you’re selling a car, do it somewhere safe. Shady backalley transactions does not a long life make. People are mean. Edmunds says you should vet potential buyers thoroughly. Give their Facebook profile a quick look. Is the dude posing with a bunch of guns? Maybe don’t take that “cash today” offer from them, as they may take your cash today. Please, talk to people who want to buy. Don’t schedule a test drive with some random off the internet without having a discussion first.

Speaking of, location is everything when selling a car. Public places are your friend. A bank is just about as good as it gets. I prefer to make all of my important transactions in the lobby of my bank. When I sold my car this morning, I made sure it was done on camera in front of a bunch of tellers. Another good one is of course, the police station. Plus, if they do try to rob you, you can’t beat the convenience.

Taking payment for selling your car can be complicated

A stack of $100 bills
Cash is still king | Valera Golovniov via Getty Images

Now, this could honestly warrant a whole article on its own. You want to make sure there’s real money being handed to you during a sale, supposing all your vetting and such has gone well. For example, your average run-of-the-mill check doesn’t technically have any real cash value. It’s essentially a piece of paper that tells your bank to move money from one place to another. Most importantly, checks can be canceled. If you have to take a check when you sell your car, make sure the funds clear before giving up the keys. However, some buyers may not be comfortable with that.

Frankly, the best method is still cold, hard cash. It’s hard to fake, banks take it and move the funds into your account immediately, and they can’t be taken back once handed over. Best part? All of those are positives for a buyer too. They’ll want the transaction done just as badly as you. If you can’t get to a bank, say on a Sunday, Amazon has pens you can buy that will change color if a bill is fake. Department stores use them all the time.

Bring your friends

Selling a car at CarMax, a dealer employee hands over the keys
Having some friends around is good for more than just a ride home | Mark Peterson via Getty Images

Finally, bring your friends. As I said before, people are mean. They may want to take advantage, so having some friends around and trusting your gut is key to making a sale go smoothly. With that in mind and the current used market, you’re sure to make some good money in a safe and reasonably short timeframe.

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