How to sell a vehicle as a private seller

These tips may help the private sale of your vehicle go more smoothly

Buying or selling a vehicle on the private market can seem like an intimidating experience, especially if it’s your first time going through the process. There are a number of questions that may come to mind, such as what documents and paperwork are needed to legally transfer ownership, what safety tips should you practice, and what are some secure ways to transfer the money between the buyer and seller.

We’ve identified some of the key steps to consider during this process. Keep in mind that various circumstances (such as where you live or your vehicle’s history) may have an effect on the process of buying or selling a vehicle in Utah.

Collect the necessary documents and paperwork

Before listing your vehicle on the market, you’ll want to gather some key documents that will be involved in the process.

  • Title (you’ll hand this over once the sale is complete)
  • Bill of Sale (a receipt proving ownership of a vehicle has been transferred)
  • Release of liability (file this with the DMV so if the vehicle is used in a crime you won’t be held responsible)
  • Warranty documents (if any)

Find your vehicle’s value

There are several ways you can go about determining the fair value of your vehicle. Online resources like Kelley Blue Book use your location and information about your vehicle to give you an idea of what your vehicle is worth. You can also research the sales history of similar vehicles in your area. You may even have your mechanic take a look at your vehicle and its condition to help you get an idea of its value.

Set your price limits

Consider setting a minimum offer you’re willing to accept before you list your vehicle for sale. By having this decision already made, you won’t have to make a spur-of-the-moment decision when someone makes you an offer below your asking price. As you set your asking price, keep in mind that the offers you receive will generally be lower than what you’re asking.

Clean your vehicle

A thorough cleaning of your vehicle can help make sure that potential buyers see your vehicle at its best. This is an important step in preparing your vehicle for sale, as a fresh detail can really help maximize a vehicle’s worth.

Meet in a public space, and don’t meet alone

Avoid inviting a potential buyer to your home, especially if it’s the first meeting. Instead, consider arranging a meeting in a public place such as a mall parking lot. For an added layer of security, invite a friend or family member to come along with you to the meeting.

On the test-drive

Ask to see the driver’s license of the potential buyer before the test drive. Take a photo of the license on your phone and send it to a third party. Before the test drive begins, consider clearing your vehicle of any valuables (you probably don’t want to leave your wallet or a stack of cash sitting in the center console).

Disclose acceptable methods of payment

In your vehicle listing, make clear what forms of payment you are willing to accept.

Generally speaking, cash is the safest form of payment. If you feel uncomfortable holding a large amount of cash, you can ask the buyer to meet you at your bank so you can immediately deposit the cash after the sale.

A cashier’s check is another good option, although there is still potential for fraud. If you do decide to go with this method, consider meeting at the buyer’s bank with the cashier’s check. This way you can verify the check.

To help prevent potential fraud, avoid accepting a personal check as a method of payment. If for some reason a personal check must be used, make it clear you will not hand over the title until the check clears. Another option is to meet the buyer at their financial institution with the personal check and have the buyer cash it on the spot.

Do you have any additional tips for selling your vehicle on the private market?

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