Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
DoubleClick
Posts: 528
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:12 am

Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by DoubleClick »

I'd like to sell my car. It's sub-$5000 probably, and is too old to be sold to a dealer. So I'll be selling it to a private party.

Question is, how does one handle test drives in the pandemic? I'd prefer not to sit next to the test driver. How safe is it to give the keys to anyone who shows up at my frontdoor via a Craigslist ad? Is there any kind of collateral I can retain during the test drive? Get a copy of their driver's license?

This thread is about this specific question around test driving. I did take a look at older threads around:
- What platform to sell the car in
- one more
Tingting1013
Posts: 1594
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:44 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by Tingting1013 »

Are you sure it’s too old to be sold to a dealer? Have you tried CarMax?
User avatar
RickBoglehead
Posts: 7221
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:10 am
Location: In a house

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by RickBoglehead »

Picture of license. Proof of vaccination. Then go with.

Or copy of registration of the car they leave during drive so you know it's theirs?
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.
poker27
Posts: 899
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:48 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by poker27 »

I just sold my car yesterday, but was comfortable riding next to someone.

If you don’t want to go with them, I would ask for the cash, give them the unsigned title and keys. If the car shows back undamaged, exchange.

Or maybe find a friend that’s comfortable driving with them?
exigent
Posts: 1140
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 8:49 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by exigent »

If you're vaccinated, then I wouldn't worry too much about it. Wear a mask and ask them to do the same if you makes you more comfortable.

Aside from that, ask for the keys to the car they arrived in (plus have them let you see the title if you'd like) and a pic of their driver's license. Maybe schedule the test drive to leave from the parking lot of the local police station or sheriff's office which is likely to have video surveillance, at least near the main entrance. This would probably scare off the majority of the troublemakers.
Last edited by exigent on Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
DoubleComma
Posts: 403
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:23 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by DoubleComma »

Last June, I simply traded keys to a guy who showed up from a Craigslist add. Figured holding the keys to his car was sufficient incentive for his return with my vehicle….he promptly bought it when he returned.

Now the flip side, a decade ago, my cousin handed the keys to someone who took his vehicle on a test drive. They didn’t purchase it, rather came back and stole it that night. Police recovered the partially stripped car, determined while on the test drive they had a duplicate key made at the local hardware store. Insurance made him whole, so the sting was reduced.
exigent
Posts: 1140
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 8:49 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by exigent »

DoubleComma wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:52 pm Now the flip side, a decade ago, my cousin handed the keys to someone who took his vehicle on a test drive. They didn’t purchase it, rather came back and stole it that night. Police recovered the partially stripped car, determined while on the test drive they had a duplicate key made at the local hardware store. Insurance made him whole, so the sting was reduced.
Smart thieves. Heh.
runner3081
Posts: 4347
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:22 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by runner3081 »

I have never, ever, sat shotgun for a private-party test drive.

I make sure the title is not in the car and let them take it for a spin.
UpperNwGuy
Posts: 5755
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:16 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by UpperNwGuy »

Hopefully both you and the potential purchaser have been vaccinated, thereby making it safe to sit next to each other on a test drive.
fyre4ce
Posts: 1534
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:29 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by fyre4ce »

I test-drove a car during the pandemic, and just left the keys to my own car with the seller, and actually this was my suggestion; he would have let me take it without.
coastalhiker
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:14 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by coastalhiker »

Where I live, there is a consignment lot that charges sellers a flat fee. They take care of advertising (photos, postings to multiple sites), and they take responsibility for the test drives. During the pandemic, they've been cleaning the cars between test drives. Sellers negotiate directly with potential buyers, they don't manage the sales part of the process. It's great, perhaps you can find something similar near you. If not, I think Carmax might be a whole lot easier than direct sales.
jojay
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by jojay »

Hi,
I recently sold my 2007 Highlander to Carvana.
The suggested price shown in KBB were about $3300 for a private sale. Carvana gave us $2700. Absolutely zero hassle, no test drives, they came and picked it up and gave me the check. I had done everything online.
Did I lose out on a couple of hundred? I suppose so but I also lost ALL of the hassle.
User avatar
RickBoglehead
Posts: 7221
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:10 am
Location: In a house

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by RickBoglehead »

jojay wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:22 am Hi,
I recently sold my 2007 Highlander to Carvana.
The suggested price shown in KBB were about $3300 for a private sale. Carvana gave us $2700. Absolutely zero hassle, no test drives, they came and picked it up and gave me the check. I had done everything online.
Did I lose out on a couple of hundred? I suppose so but I also lost ALL of the hassle.
Yes, you lost a couple hundred. Let's look at it another way - you lost the ability to make 22% more profit. Had this been a discussion about investments, and you said "I kept $2,700 in a shoebox for a year, and the market went up 22%, what should I do now?" you would have been lambasted for keeping money out of the market...

Ease of selling is clearly of value to you. Our last vehicle was 9 years old, dealer offered me something like $5,500 right away, or $4,500 if we waited 5 months until our ordered car came in. I put it on CL for $9,000, above KBB and Edmunds private sale value, got 2 buyers right away. I had it sold for $9,000, but the buyer said "is there anyway you would take $8,500?". Given that they had just had their first child, I said "sure".

We will be selling our 2018 Fusion Energi shortly. KBB and Edmunds private sale puts it in the $24,000 - $25,500 range. Carvana just offered $23,574. I will probably list it for $25,000.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.
User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 6111
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by lthenderson »

I never go with them. In the age of smart phones, I just snap a picture of their license and face and let them take it away. Car is cleaned out of paperwork before their drive.
rage_phish
Posts: 354
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:27 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by rage_phish »

I’m vax’d. I’d just go with them. Masks on and windows down would be plenty safe for me
User avatar
ClevrChico
Posts: 2141
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:24 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by ClevrChico »

Regardless of the pandemic, I would not allow test drives unless I knew the person. I did test drives once, and it was shocking how bad the drivers treated the car. One pulled the e-brake while going 35 mph on a downhill curve!

I might not get top dollar, but it would be worth it for me. (I would likely sell it to Carmax or on Ebay.)
Last edited by ClevrChico on Tue Jun 15, 2021 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
realclemsongrad
Posts: 62
Joined: Sat May 16, 2020 4:37 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by realclemsongrad »

I recently sold sienna. I let few mechanic friends know and they passed a referral to me. I held the keys to the buyers car when he went for a ride. He came back and made an offer 300$ less than I am hoping for. But I did not want to haggle or put myself through more test drives and accepted it.
User avatar
firebirdparts
Posts: 2691
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:21 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by firebirdparts »

I sold one to Carmax, and FWIW they gave me more than I was planning to ask for it. I was thrilled. I like the idea of having them as a liability shield, and I would have paid a little something for that. I put my tag under my arm and took off walking down the road.

I was very concerned about the aggravation factor. I've always loved cars, and I had found over the years that buying and selling them is a pretty bad experience.

The car was insured, so having it stolen is about as good as selling it. FWIW. Not really concerned about that.
A fool and your money are soon partners
Jack FFR1846
Posts: 13864
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I sold our Fusion during the height of the pandemic. Had the buyer wanted to drive it, I'd have handed him the key and he could have taken it out. I had already gone to a dealer, where we were looking at buying a car. They offered me $900 for it. Car Max, $1500. I sold it via craigslist for $2500. Cash money.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid
User avatar
FIREchief
Posts: 6918
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by FIREchief »

This is one area where I am absolutely non-bogelhead. I will never again sell a car to a private party. I do know a guy who deals cars as a side gig. I've sold four vehicles to him. I could have gotten more, but I just don't want the potential complications of a private sale to an unknown party.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.
hudson
Posts: 4215
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:15 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by hudson »

FIREchief wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:28 pm This is one area where I am absolutely non-bogelhead. I will never again sell a car to a private party. I do know a guy who deals cars as a side gig. I've sold four vehicles to him. I could have gotten more, but I just don't want the potential complications of a private sale to an unknown party.
I also will sell old vehicles to a dealer, CarMax, or the equivalent.
I'll pass on private party sales.
If I was still working, I would put a for sale note on the company bulletin board; I'd let a co-worker go on a test drive.
Lately, I've passed older cars to family members if possible and appropriate.
Topic Author
DoubleClick
Posts: 528
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:12 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by DoubleClick »

hudson wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:46 pm
FIREchief wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:28 pm This is one area where I am absolutely non-bogelhead. I will never again sell a car to a private party. I do know a guy who deals cars as a side gig. I've sold four vehicles to him. I could have gotten more, but I just don't want the potential complications of a private sale to an unknown party.
I also will sell old vehicles to a dealer, CarMax, or the equivalent.
I'll pass on private party sales.
If I was still working, I would put a for sale note on the company bulletin board; I'd let a co-worker go on a test drive.
Lately, I've passed older cars to family members if possible and appropriate.
FIREchief and hudson, curious, would you mind stating the top concerns you'd have in selling to a private party?
Topic Author
DoubleClick
Posts: 528
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:12 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by DoubleClick »

OP here. Ton of great advice as usual, thank you to everyone!

My takeaways:
- I don't like the idea of riding shotgun either. So:
- Photo of license along with person
- Keys to their car FWIW
- Meet at local police station

Alternatives to private party sale:
- check CarMax (and similar) price before writing them off
- consignment lot

Thanks again, all!
hudson
Posts: 4215
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:15 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by hudson »

DoubleClick wrote: Tue Jun 15, 2021 5:23 am
hudson wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:46 pm
FIREchief wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:28 pm This is one area where I am absolutely non-bogelhead. I will never again sell a car to a private party. I do know a guy who deals cars as a side gig. I've sold four vehicles to him. I could have gotten more, but I just don't want the potential complications of a private sale to an unknown party.
I also will sell old vehicles to a dealer, CarMax, or the equivalent.
I'll pass on private party sales.
If I was still working, I would put a for sale note on the company bulletin board; I'd let a co-worker go on a test drive.
Lately, I've passed older cars to family members if possible and appropriate.
FIREchief and hudson, curious, would you mind stating the top concerns you'd have in selling to a private party?
The unknown...dealing with an unknown person. I might have to play the negotiation game.

Cash would have to be involved since I would only deal with cash.

The location...where's a safe place to do the deal? I sold a rowing shell recently; I met at the police department's internet sales parking area. The buyer wanted to try the boat out. From talking to the buyers, they appeared to be trustworthy. I took a picture of their license plate and texted it to my wife and we headed to the local park. It all worked out. It was a lot of trouble to go through the process.

The younger me wanted to squeeze every dime out of an old vehicle; the older me wants convenience and safety.

I don't like doing trade-ins when buying a new vehicle. I like the deal to be simple. On a 2018 new Toyota purchase, I had the deal done and had an appointment to pick up the vehicle at the dealer an hour away. I couldn't swing a ride, so I took my 18 year old (expendable) Toyota truck....planning to leave it and pick it up later. Again, the deal was done; I had an out the door price on a specific vehicle. I asked the sales person if they were interested in buying my truck. I hadn't cleaned it up in years, but it was mechanically ok. She named a price that sounded fair to me; I took the deal and drove away in my wife's new vehicle. That deal was convenient and safe; I had zero heartburn. In fact, I was relieved that I'd gotten rid of my old truck with little effort. If the dealer hadn't taken my truck, my plan was to take it to CarMax for an offer. No family members wanted the truck.

My plan for selling older vehicles in the future: (I usually drive vehicles 10-20 years.) Give to a family member. Sell to a local used car lot. Check with CarMax or a clone.

Bottom Line: I now go for safety and convenience over profit.
Golf maniac
Posts: 845
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:02 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by Golf maniac »

RickBoglehead wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:39 am
jojay wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:22 am Hi,
I recently sold my 2007 Highlander to Carvana.
The suggested price shown in KBB were about $3300 for a private sale. Carvana gave us $2700. Absolutely zero hassle, no test drives, they came and picked it up and gave me the check. I had done everything online.
Did I lose out on a couple of hundred? I suppose so but I also lost ALL of the hassle.
Yes, you lost a couple hundred. Let's look at it another way - you lost the ability to make 22% more profit. Had this been a discussion about investments, and you said "I kept $2,700 in a shoebox for a year, and the market went up 22%, what should I do now?" you would have been lambasted for keeping money out of the market...

Ease of selling is clearly of value to you. Our last vehicle was 9 years old, dealer offered me something like $5,500 right away, or $4,500 if we waited 5 months until our ordered car came in. I put it on CL for $9,000, above KBB and Edmunds private sale value, got 2 buyers right away. I had it sold for $9,000, but the buyer said "is there anyway you would take $8,500?". Given that they had just had their first child, I said "sure".

We will be selling our 2018 Fusion Energi shortly. KBB and Edmunds private sale puts it in the $24,000 - $25,500 range. Carvana just offered $23,574. I will probably list it for $25,000.
I guess I am with jojay, at this point in my life I am not going the private listing route for a few hundred bucks. With all the scams, crazy people, and hassles it is not worth it to me. I keep my cars a very long time so many times I end up donating the car.
smitcat
Posts: 8030
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by smitcat »

RickBoglehead wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:39 am
jojay wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:22 am Hi,
I recently sold my 2007 Highlander to Carvana.
The suggested price shown in KBB were about $3300 for a private sale. Carvana gave us $2700. Absolutely zero hassle, no test drives, they came and picked it up and gave me the check. I had done everything online.
Did I lose out on a couple of hundred? I suppose so but I also lost ALL of the hassle.
Yes, you lost a couple hundred. Let's look at it another way - you lost the ability to make 22% more profit. Had this been a discussion about investments, and you said "I kept $2,700 in a shoebox for a year, and the market went up 22%, what should I do now?" you would have been lambasted for keeping money out of the market...

Ease of selling is clearly of value to you. Our last vehicle was 9 years old, dealer offered me something like $5,500 right away, or $4,500 if we waited 5 months until our ordered car came in. I put it on CL for $9,000, above KBB and Edmunds private sale value, got 2 buyers right away. I had it sold for $9,000, but the buyer said "is there anyway you would take $8,500?". Given that they had just had their first child, I said "sure".

We will be selling our 2018 Fusion Energi shortly. KBB and Edmunds private sale puts it in the $24,000 - $25,500 range. Carvana just offered $23,574. I will probably list it for $25,000.
Yes - cars boats , trucks and even business's can be sold without a lot of extra work. Have sold many of them on our own when it makes sense and never understand the folks that seem to find this so overwhelming.
novemberrain
Posts: 673
Joined: Wed May 09, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by novemberrain »

Maybe hide an iPhone inside the car when you give it to them. Then track the phone location in real time with 'Find my iPhone'
hudson
Posts: 4215
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:15 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by hudson »

novemberrain wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 10:54 pm Maybe hide an iPhone inside the car when you give it to them. Then track the phone location in real time with 'Find my iPhone'
Good idea...never thought of that.
A satellite type tracker might be best. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Satellite+Tr ... _nr_p_72_1
2d best and easiest might be an Apple AirTag. https://www.apple.com/airtag/ (You'd need an iPhone also.)
Last edited by hudson on Thu Jun 17, 2021 5:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
galawdawg
Posts: 2847
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2017 12:59 pm
Location: Georgia

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by galawdawg »

When I saw the title, I thought this thread was started in June of last year! :oops:

If you aren't comfortable meeting someone and riding with them for the test drive (whether for COVID or safety reasons) then sell the vehicle to Carmax, Carvana or a similar commercial service.

Releasing your vehicle and keys to a stranger has risks no matter the precautions you take. Likewise, riding along with a stranger has risks no matter the precautions you take. As we frequently mention concerning asset allocation, you know better than anyone else your risk tolerance....your ability, willingness and need to take risk. The same applies here!

Good luck however you decide to proceed.
quantAndHold
Posts: 6109
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by quantAndHold »

I’m vax’d. I would ask for proof of vaccination if they want a test drive. And yes, I always go along. It’s a few minutes for questions and answers, and a chance to actually make the sale.

I enjoy selling stuff to people. If you don’t enjoy that, then yeah, Carvana or something is probably better. I had a car once that I didn’t feel good about selling to a private party because I knew the transmission was about to go out. I sold that one to Carmax.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
02nz
Posts: 7078
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by 02nz »

exigent wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:50 pm Maybe schedule the test drive to leave from the parking lot of the local police station or sheriff's office which is likely to have video surveillance, at least near the main entrance. This would probably scare off the majority of the troublemakers.
+1 on this, and many police departments specifically encourage this for Craiglist-type transactions. It's not like there's a police officer out there recording everybody's ID, but the mere mention of the meeting location in your ad will scare off most criminals.
Shallowpockets
Posts: 2022
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:26 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by Shallowpockets »

I just sold a car to private party. Used Craigslist and had phone calls within 10 minutes, followed by 6 more within the next hour. Had not sold a car for 15 years, so had some concerns. I stated cash in the ad.
Buyer came over with his wife in their car. We chatted and I let him drive the car alone. Told him his wife was the hostage.
Overall it is about assessing people. Sometimes over the phone. How people talk to you and what they ask. How they respond to your talk.
If you are a suspicious person, fearful, and do not believe in your own judgements, no amount of advice will suffice to make it better for you to sell a car.
For example, even though I stated cash in my ad, my wife managed to subvert that into possible suspicion by asking me what about counterfeit bills.
Who would have thought? And rationally, what is the chance that would occur.
Go figure.
Chuckles960
Posts: 121
Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 12:09 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by Chuckles960 »

Shallowpockets wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 11:22 amOverall it is about assessing people. Sometimes over the phone. How people talk to you and what they ask. How they respond to your talk.
Problem with that is unconscious bias. One tends to assume certain people are more trustworthy, based on how they speak and what it signals about race or national origin.

I have sold our used cars privately in the past but they were worth maybe $2K. I may decide to sell another one but currently it is worth about $9K. I'm not too comfortable about taking that much cash, plus I no longer have a local bank so I don't know what to do with the bills. I'm thinking escrow.com, but I know it is a hassle.

Of course if I delay the upgrade until new models come out in the fall, the currently inflated used-car prices will go down.
User avatar
8foot7
Posts: 2587
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:29 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by 8foot7 »

If somebody steals my car on a test drive, I sold it to the insurance company. Problem solved.
Admiral
Posts: 3575
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:35 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by Admiral »

Just FYI Carvana gave me an estimated value of my car at $1,000. It was in an accident 10 years ago and was fully repaired (to the tune of $13k, paid for by insurance). 2001 MY.

I sold it private party, over the Internet, for $6500, in two days. Truck came and picked it up.

Granted this was an older, somewhat collectible BMW, but still...
User avatar
LilyFleur
Posts: 1983
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:36 pm

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by LilyFleur »

galawdawg wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 5:30 am When I saw the title, I thought this thread was started in June of last year! :oops:

If you aren't comfortable meeting someone and riding with them for the test drive (whether for COVID or safety reasons) then sell the vehicle to Carmax, Carvana or a similar commercial service.

Releasing your vehicle and keys to a stranger has risks no matter the precautions you take. Likewise, riding along with a stranger has risks no matter the precautions you take. As we frequently mention concerning asset allocation, you know better than anyone else your risk tolerance....your ability, willingness and need to take risk. The same applies here!

Good luck however you decide to proceed.
This. I don't sell furniture out of my home on Craigslist, either.

And I don't have any money stashed in a shoebox, uninvested.

But I am alive and well and able to manage my investments.
exigent
Posts: 1140
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 8:49 am

Re: Selling a car in the pandemic: test drives

Post by exigent »

8foot7 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 2:01 pm If somebody steals my car on a test drive, I sold it to the insurance company. Problem solved.
Lol. I like this worldview.
Post Reply