Tips on Selling a Vehicle to an Individual

My husband and I need to sell a 2000 Ford Explorer that we no longer need (due to a recent truck purchase). We prefer to sell it in a private-party (individual) transaction so as to get the best sell price; however, what is the safest way to have a stranger test drive your vehicle? We don’t want to put ourselves in danger doing this (we live in a large city). Any solid advice would be greatly appreciated!

  1. Get it detailed inside and out professionally. It’ll cost $160-$260 but it’s worth it.

  2. Change the oil

  3. Make sure all maintence that is supposed to have been done is done.

  4. Consider replacing cheap but noticable parts ( worn control knobs, vents that no longer swivel, small plastic pieces in the interior, etc.)

  5. Make sure the tires all match and have 75% or better tread remaining.

  6. Profit

You know that friend of yours with the nasty Pit Bull? Bring him and his dog along with you when someone wants to test drive your vehicle. The dog will drastically cut down on attempts to rob the vehicle or your valuables.

I agree! Great tips – thank you so much for your input; I greatly appreciate it!

What a wonderful idea! Hmmm…we have a chihuahua – he’s too sweet. Better find a pit bull! Seriously, thanks for the tip!

Ride along with the person, carry a blunt object in your purse just incase. Or, have your husband ride along if you don’t feel comfortable. If they ask to test drive it alone, politely decline. Have your cell phone(s) handy as well.
If you don’t like how they’re driving the vehicle, ask them to pull over and stop and get out. Don’t be afraid to whip out the cell phone and threaten to call the cops if they don’t.

If possible, make sure the person who is test driving your vehicle actually has a license! Just becasue they show you a unexpired DL doesn’t mean the DL is actually valid. I don’t know about your state, but mine has a thing on the DMV website where you can punch in a DL number and it will tell you if the DL is still valid.

Put a “for sale” sign in the window.

Go to and enter the details for your car. Print the information sheets and keep them in the car to show perspective buyers. You might also go to and print the “true market value” of your vehicle to show perspective buyers.

Go to and enter your VIN. Print the information on your car and keep it in the car to show to perspective buyers.

With this information available to show to perspective buyers, you stand a better chance of getting your full asking price.

If nobody expresses an interest based on the sign in the window, consider putting it on Craig’s list and placing an advertisement in the local newspaper.

If Texas (or your other state) requires that the truck be inspected before it can be licensed, get the inspection certificate yourself. A truck that can be licensed immediately is a huge selling point.

Having made many personal sales, by far the best policy was honesty and total revelation of problems. Stress the good points of course, but a buyer will trust an over all opinion if it includes the negatives as well.

I have bought and sold quite a few cars over the past few years (I’m not a dealer, just a “car guy”). I have two copies of the below bill of sale filled out and signed – one for the buyer and one for me. This is not legal advice and you should check to see if it meets the requirements for your state.



Payment in the amount of $_______________ is hereby acknowledged by _____________________________, (?Seller?) received from ______________________________ (?Buyer?), for the sale of the automobile described below.

Automobile Description
Odometer reading:

Seller is the true and lawful owner of the above-described automobile, which is free and clear of all liens and encumbrances. Seller has full power, right and lawful authority to dispose of this vehicle. The odometer has not been disconnected or altered while in possession of the Seller.

The above-described vehicle is sold ?AS IS? and ?WITH ALL FAULTS?. Buyer hereby acknowledges, and Seller hereby expressly disclaims any and all warranties, either expressed or implied, including any implied warranties of merchantability, and neither assumes nor authorizes any other person to assume for it any liability in connection with the sale of this vehicle. Seller is not the original owner of the vehicle, does not have a complete history on the vehicle and does not warranty the vehicle?s condition, mileage, suitability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Buyer accepts full liability for the vehicle, damages, and any third party liability incurred from the vehicle use from the date of sale. Buyer takes ownership of the vehicle and assumes all responsibility for its transport at the time full payment is made to Seller.

Any representations or statements that may have been made regarding the automobile have no bearing on the sale unless specifically included in writing in this Agreement.

The laws of the State of Colorado shall govern the terms and conditions of this Purchase Agreement and Bill of Sale.

(Seller) (Buyer)

Date							Date

Address: Address:

The way I do it is I’ll watch the paper/craigslist/etc and try to figure out what comparable cars are being offered for. Throwing out the way high and way low ones you see, you should be able to establish a standard asking price range. I’ll usually then price it a little lower and list it at that price “FIRM”.

People list their cars at higher prices OBO hoping maybe some chump will come by and buy it for more than it’s worth, but I find that hardly ever happens and it opens the flood gates for all sorts of low-balling tire kickers you have to plan your schedule around for weeks and weeks before someone somewhat serious comes by and dickers you down to a reasonable price. Listing your car FIRM at a reasonable price in the first place means you get mostly serious people looking. Plus I find if you make it clear that the car costs X, it alleviates a great deal of the tension and conflict associated with the whole situation.

As for the safety issue, I’d suggest that test-drive related crime is not an especially likely situation. Doing some casual goggling, I couldn’t find a single instance, other than “oddly-enough” stories about criminals using test drive cars as getaway vehicles. Just pack a little common sense and a cell phone and I wouldn’t worry about it.

Take the security precautions that you like, but if they offer to leave the keys to their car with you as they drive off alone, “their” car may be stolen and they want yours in exchange.

Thanks…I copied and saved your form. I do lots of business in NE’s Uncle Henry, so CO becomes ME. I’ll give you copy rights credit.