How to Sell Your Car Safely

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Illustration for article titled How to Sell Your Car Safely

Photo: Peter Dazeley (Getty Images)

It’s a good time to sell your car. As the pandemic stretches on, a combination of a weaker economy, a lack of new cars from auto plants, and diminished use of public transportation has led to a boom in used car sales. But what do you need to do to ensure the sale is conducted safely?

First, know your car’s value

You can safely find the value of your vehicle online using appraisal sites like Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds or NadaGuides. They will typically provide both retail and wholesale values for your car. The retail value will be what you can expect to sell the car for privately, while the wholesale value is what a dealer will likely pay for a trade-in or outright purchase.

Get an offer

You have a few options for selling your car:

Local Dealerships

You might balk at visiting a dealership in person right now, but you can call ahead to see what social distancing measures they have in place. Safety measures should include masks, plastic barriers, sanitizing, temperature checks and crucially, moving a lot of the paperwork process online (here’s how CarMax is handling the process). Some sales managers might want to drive your vehicle before making you an offer, but you can confirm this by contacting your dealer if that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Going to a dealer can be convenient, as it’s a streamlined process during which you won’t have to worry about dealing with a bunch of potential buyers. On the other hand, you probably won’t sell it for anything close to the estimated market value.

Online

Sites like Carvana, Vroom, Cars.com, CarGurus and AutoTrader can appraise your vehicle and act as an intermediary between you and a buyer or a dealership, or they might buy the car from you outright. If you’re looking to buy too, these sites will have many photos or walkaround videos to help you make your purchase.

Shopping on these sites can give you more control over the sales process while maximizing social distance (on the buyer’s side, you can filter dealership offers based on COVID measures like contactless pick-up as well).

In terms of safety, these companies can offer “touchless delivery” or “store to door” service (just make sure it’s available in your area first). If you’re buying this way, a company agent will bring a vehicle to your driveway, sanitize the steering wheel and keys for your test-drive, and leave the paperwork in the vehicle for review and signing.

Selling privately 

You can get the most bang for your buck selling privately, but you’ll be dealing with buyers directly, it will probably take longer and you will have to enforce social distancing on your own. As Nerdwallet notes, the paperwork and marketing is all on you.

If you do choose to sell privately, keep your car spotless, sanitize the steering wheel and door handles after each test drive and make sure you are clear about your social distancing requirements before you meet with a buyer in-person.


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