If you’re thinking about buying or selling your car online, it goes without saying that safety will be one of your top priorities. Whether you’re based in Seattle like us, or further afield, below are tips on car buying and selling safety that you won’t want to miss.
What’s the safest way to sell your car in Seattle?
Vet all callers. Make sure the caller is serious by asking lots of questions about what they’re looking for. Invite questions from them. You’ll soon get a feel for them and how serious they really are.
Whatever your circumstances, try to avoid coming across as overly eager for a sale. If alarm bells are ringing, discontinue the deal. When you list on TRED, your vehicle is listed on all the main sites, so there’s no need to panic – there’s definitely more than one buyer out there for your car!
Let the buyer know beforehand that you will want to see their driver license before the test drive. That could discourage someone with other intentions from taking the arrangement further. If you feel uncertain about the individual but still want to proceed with a test drive, then tell them that you’d like to take a copy of the license.
Don’t meet strangers alone. Take a friend or family member with you and let the buyer know that you will be accompanied. If it isn’t possible for anyone to come with you, inform someone where you’re going, who you are meeting, and when the meeting will finish (and make sure the buyer is aware that you have done this).
Meet in a well-lit, busy public place.
Accompany the potential buyer during the test drive. Have a short route planned that takes you through populated areas. Don’t arrange for the test drive to end at your home or office – it should finish at the same public location as it started. If the buyer asks to be left at his/her home, or any other location (whatever reason they give you), explain that you have plans now and this isn’t possible.
Don’t leave any valuables in the car.
If someone is negotiating aggressively, remember that you do not have to accept their price. If you feel uncomfortable, inform the buyer of a price you are happy to accept and that you hope to hear from them soon. If you list your car through TRED, all negotiations are held via our online dashboard, so you will not have to deal with a bargaining style that you are not happy with.
As soon as the deal is complete, file a “release of liability” form with the registry of motor vehicles. This ensures that if the car is involved in any accidents or crimes, you will not be held responsible.
Trust your instincts. If you can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right, don’t proceed with the arrangement. If you need to cut short the test drive, do so – just be polite and firm.
What’s the safest way to buy a used car in Seattle?
Have a list of questions prepared before you visit the car. Let the seller know that you will want to see a copy of receipts for proof of ownership.
Do an online Car Fax check.
If the seller can’t produce the title, or it doesn’t look right, do not proceed with the sale.
Start a paper trail. If you communicate via email, keep the messages. Likewise, if you communicate via text or instant messages, keep these. If the seller promises to make any repairs before you buy the car, make doubly sure you get this in written form.
When it comes to providing the information you are seeking, or arranging a meeting, the seller should be keen to cooperate. If you sense that they aren’t keen to work with you, the answer is simple – walk away. There are plenty more cars to buy.
The 17 digit VIN on the dashboard must match the VIN on the car door. If it doesn’t, it’s likely the car was stolen.
If you spot fresh paintwork and the seller can’t explain this adequately, it’s likely that the car has been in a collision.
Check for signs of water damage – rust, waterlines, and new upholstery. If you see any of these, the vehicle isn’t a sensible buy.
Ask an independent mechanic (not one recommended by the seller) to carry out an inspection. If they do find issues, you can either walk away from the deal, or use these as a negotiating point. If you buy through TRED, the good news is that all vehicles undergo a comprehensive 150-point inspection, so you can be sure they are in good working order.
Paying by cash isn’t a great idea. A payment method that’s easier to track, such as PayPal, proves that you paid, as well as the amount. Although cash is useful when negotiating, it is hard to track.
Insist on a receipt as a condition of the sale. This is necessary to prove that you paid for the car, how much you paid, and the condition of the car at the point of sale. Both you and the seller need to sign. Buyers who use TRED receive all paperwork from us – there’s nothing to do but tell us a time when you’ll be available to receive the vehicle from us!
Of course, you can use these tips for buying or selling a car online wherever you’re based, whether it’s Seattle, New York, Chicago, or Tampa. The golden rule is that if something doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t. Do your homework and make sure you know what you’re comfortable with and what you expect. The time and effort you put into the process will pay off when you drive home with a new car that you know is the right vehicle for you.