How to sell your car privately

How to sell your car privately

If you are ready to upgrade your current car, then you are most likely looking into selling your current one. This can be an exciting time, but is also a difficult process that can end in disaster.

You will need to be on the lookout for certain things when considering selling your car privately, some of which are outlined below.

Viewing venue is vital

Private car sales come with their own set of risks, the biggest of which is your own safety. If you have been contacted by a potential buyer, and they are insisting that you meet them at their place of residence, you should be hearing alarm bells.

This is usually the sign of a fraudulent individual, and you should always ensure that you meet a potential buyer at a venue of your choosing. After all, you have the product they want so if they are genuinely interested then they will agree to your terms. Also make sure you are not alone during the viewing of the vehicle.

A cash transaction is not ideal

A cash transaction might seem simple, but it can lead to fraud. If the buyer is someone who you do not know very well, then it is important not to accept cash. You should reconsider the sale if the potential buyer is insistent on paying nothing other than cash, as this may be leading to a scam.

A popular scam is the “overpayment” scam, in which the buyer asks you to give them change for an overpayment as well as the car. You should only accept the exact amount if you are accepting cash, and you will need to take the money to the bank to be verified.

Insist on the full amount

No matter how you accept the payment, you should always insist on the full amount. Private car sales can go from ideal to disastrous in moments, and so if the potential buyer is asking for leniency when paying, you need to cancel the sale.

Do not agree to an instalment or monthly payment plan – you are not a bank and will be unable to collect any unpaid instalments. Rather, suggest to the buyer that they apply for vehicle finance, especially if the buyer is someone you know and trust. This way, you will be able to sell your car without having to worry about collecting repayments that may or may not be made.

Always ask for driver’s licence and ID

If you have a potential buyer coming to view or test drive the car, before you allow them near the vehicle, you will need to ask for their driver’s licence and ID. Red flags should pop up if they have an excuse as to why they do not have it with them, as this means that they could be fraudulent buyers.

If a parent is buying the vehicle for their child, ask to see both of their licences, learner’s licence included. If the buyer does not have a driver’s licence, they are unable to drive a car and you will be contributing to the dangers on the road.

Never let the vehicle go until you have received payment

You should never let the buyer take the vehicle if you have not received payment in full. It is imperative to make sure that the funds are in your account and are reflected as such, otherwise, you could be allowing someone to drive away with your vehicle without having paid you.

Do not take proof of payment as gospel, and always check that the funds have cleared. If the buyer is upset by this, it could be because they are dishonest and do not truly have the money for the purchase. Even if it takes two days for the funds to be paid in full into your account, tell the buyer they will have to wait until then to receive the vehicle.

A buyer offers to buy sight unseen

This may seem like a tempting offer to take, but it is most likely a fraudulent one. You will be notified that you have been overpaid, allowing the buyer to ask for the difference to be returned via a different online payment platform.

While you are doing this, the fraudster will reverse their original transaction, meaning that you have paid an unnecessary amount and have lost the “payment” for your car.


When selling your car privately, it is vital to be wary of buyers that make you feel uncomfortable or who seem untrustworthy. Selling your car does not have to be a difficult or lengthy process but you should always try to be as safe as possible during any potential buyer interactions.


Photo by janetmck

Authored by: Pete Anderson

Leave a Reply