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Is Selling Your Car Privately Worth The Risk? – Here’s What You Need To Know

Is Selling Your Car Privately Worth The Risk? – Here’s What You Need To Know

Selling a car has become extremely easy in recent years. All you need to do is create a listing on the hundreds of available car selling sites or Craigslist and you are done. However, is doing business with a stranger really worth the sale? Or, should you go the old route of wasting weekends in cajoling dealerships to offer you a better deal for your vehicle. 


There is a third way to sell your car – keep reading till the very end!

Private sales have several pros but more cons. In fact, the only advantage of private sales is that they usually end up in better deals. People don’t bargain as extensively as dealerships. You still need to consider the various risks you are taking when selling your car privately. The DIY approach to selling a car is often thought to be a highly lucrative option. However, it does come with its own set of drawbacks. 

This post will explain whether selling a car privately is actually worth the risk. 

Vehicle Condition 

You are not wrong in wanting the best rate for your vehicle. Everybody wants to sell their cars at maximum profit. However, the condition of your vehicle plays a major role in it. Buyers don’t want to purchase a car that looks like it is fit for the scrapyard. This is especially true when trying to sell a car privately.

Look at things this way – if you don’t want to hold on to the vehicle, chances are that others don’t want to purchase it either. Every scratch, ding, dent or paint damage is going to cost you money. In fact, many car selling experts recommend sellers to fix these minor damages before attempting at selling their car. 

Each scratch is ammunition for potential buyers to force your hand at offering a lower price. In contrast, dealerships tend to be more lenient when it comes to bodywork damage. You may even get a trade-in offer if your car is a junk or not in running condition. 

Private buyers don’t like cosmetic defects because they know they will have to pay to get it fixed. Dealerships have tie ups with local body shops or have an in-house shop where they can get the defects fixed at really cheap rates. So, if your car is not in a great condition, you run the risk of selling it for a really low price when going the private route.

Time and Effort

You need to realistically ask yourself the kind of time and effort you can put into this car selling project. Private car sales, even the ones made online, can take weeks to months. You need to be available to take potential buyer calls and answer all their queries. 

In fact, creating the description alone on any one site could take upwards of an hour. You need to consider the time you will need to click pictures and post them online to attract potential buyers. Many people abandon their project midway because they just cannot spare that kind of time and effort. You could end up at a loss if you invest in a paid online classifieds which even in a low tax and high growth environment because of less regulations (which is not the case in New York or California) this is nothing to smile about. 

Here’s a breakdown of things that require a lot of time and effort when trying to sell a car privately:

  1. Advertisement

Private car sales start with preparation and advertising. There is no way you can sell your car if nobody knows it’s on offer. Consider yourself lucky if you find a buyer paying the right kind of money within your friends, family, and colleagues circle. Unfortunately, that is very rare.

You will need to use an advertising avenue. You can post a “For Sale” sign on the car window with your email address or phone number. Or, you could do things the smart way and post ads on online sites, such as AutoTrader or Craigslist. 

You could also use Facebook Marketplace if you have an extensive social media presence. Try using as many avenues as possible if you want to make a sale quickly. Unfortunately, the more sites you consider, the more time it will take. Posting the ad is just the tip of the iceberg. Remember, you need to keep up with inquiries as well.

  1. Answering Inquiries

You need to answer buyer queries promptly and accurately. There are going to be dozens of cars of a similar make and model as yours. The buyer has several options to choose from. They are not going to wait around for you to answer their queries during break time or in the evening. 

You have to be present on the mode of communication you listed – phone or email. The problem here is that maximum inquiries are made by people who are really just fishing. They aren’t serious about purchasing the car. In fact, this can equate to hours of wasted effort in fielding queries alone. 

Private sales can get very tiresome very quickly. Also, most cars take anywhere from a few weeks to months to sell. That is a long time to hang on to a vehicle you have already decided to sell.

  1. Meetings for Test Drive

Nobody buys a car without taking at least one test drive. You will need to spend your weekends and the rest of your free time showing your car to potential buyers. This is where things get complicated. You are essentially meeting strangers. This is if they actually show up.

Many people would just set up appointments, usually on Saturday afternoons and never show up. That isn’t just annoying. It is also a drain on your time. You could be out doing things you love or meet with other potential car buyers. But, that’s just the way private car sales work.

You would need to pay for all the test drives and tag along. It is not recommended to allow a complete stranger to take test-drives alone. Helpful tip – Make sure you don’t cancel your auto insurance until after you have sold your car.

  1. Maintenance

Selling your car is like organizing an open house. You need to keep it perfectly clean and detailed. You cannot get a good price for cars that are dirty – even if it’s just a coffee cup. 

Things can get expensive pretty quickly when you need to get your car vacuumed once a week and take it through the car wash every other day. Plus, all the delay in selling your car and test drives from strangers would soon make it time for the next service. 

Don’t skimp on the maintenance or you risk losing your engine. It may seem counter-productive to spend money on a vehicle that you are trying to sell. But, you can always keep the service records and use it as a bargaining chip to up the price.

  1. Paperwork

One of the worst parts about selling a car privately is the incessant documentation involved. Nobody likes the endless queues at their local DMV. Things get worse if you lose an important piece of paperwork, like the car title. 

You will need to apply for a replacement or a duplicate on your own if you are trying to sell the car privately. In contrast, dealerships and online car buying services can help you with the application process. You don’t have to do it alone.

Bill of sale is another document that you need to put together to sell your car legally. That means more hours at the DMV and you know how unpleasant that can get.

You don’t need to suffer through the above mentioned time-sinks if you trade in your car or sell it to professional car buyers. 

Risk of Scams

It’s nice to live in a world where you can trust people and give them the benefit of doubt – if only it were true. You don’t need to be cynical to realize that anybody you meet online can scam you and there is very little you can do to prevent that. 

There are dozens of people out there running scams and waiting to take advantage of a private car seller, like you. You need to be careful and prepared. Always remember that no matter how friendly a stranger gets, they are not known to you.

Online scammers are known to offer really great prices and pay for it through cashiers’ check that doesn’t cash. The driver gets to drive away with your vehicle while you have a bank teller telling you the check is counterfeit and ways to spot one.

Now, your car is long gone and you have no money to show for it. Worse still, their number doesn’t work and any information they provided to you was fake. The same holds true for private checks. The only difference is that they bounce when you try to cash them out. 

You can always deal in cash payments to keep yourself safe. However, when you really think about it – do you want to put your safety at risk? Won’t it just be easier to get cash for your cars at one of the dealerships or any other car purchasing services? 

Being the victim of a scam hurts in more ways than one. It can be demoralizing and humiliating besides putting you back financially. You probably banked on the car proceeds to put in the down payment on your new vehicle.

Disgruntled Buyers

If you are lucky, you could end up making a private car sale smoothly – with the right paperwork and without getting scammed. However, you always run the risk of the buyer coming back because they are unhappy with the car. Maybe something broke down after the sale and the buyer feels it’s your job to repair it. 

For instance, maybe the buyer did not get the car registered soon enough and now the smog inspection has expired. They are climbing down your throat to get a new smog inspection done. Perhaps, you unintentionally (or intentionally) forgot to inform the buyer of one or more issues with the car.

They could sue you for damages. Irate buyers are known to file lawsuits against hapless car sellers. You won’t have this problem when you do business with professional car buyers. Once you sign away the car title and hand over the keys – the sale is final. 

Cash Cars Buyer – The Best Way to Sell Your Car 

When you sell your car to private buyers or dealerships, you will realize that there is not much difference in regards to the price point. However, there is a wealth of difference when it comes to the benefits professional car buyers have over private buyers. 

Cash Cars Buyer is a reputed, honest, licensed and certified car purchasing company with footprint across the United States. We make car selling easy and offer the best rates for vehicles. Most times, out offers are better than what you will get at local dealerships.

Plus, there is the added benefit of selling any type of car in record time. We accept all makes and models in all conditions. You can count on us to offer the best price whether you are selling a junk car or a prime SUV. Give us a call if you want to sell your vehicle in 24 hours to professional car buyers at the best rate.

All our payments are made in cash and we offer free car pickups/towing. There is no reason to be afraid of scams when you do business with us. In addition, we bring all the paperwork. Get in touch with us today by calling at (773) 791-4363 or using our online form.