The Test Drive

Now, you've listed your car for sale, the ad is out, and you've already spoken with a few folks.

Someone wants to come over and actually drive your car. What do you do?

We recommend going on the test drive with the prospective purchaser, for three reasons: first, if something untoward happens like, say, an engine meltdown or an accident, you will have been there to see it happen, and won't simply be relying on their version of the incident. Second, with you in the car, it's much harder for them to steal it and use it in a bank heist. Third, the test drive is a great opportunity to talk about your car and point out its features.

If you have a high-performance car that begs to be driven aggressively, you should absolutely go on the test drive. With you riding shotgun, the buyer will be much less likely to drive like a maniac.

"If the buyer refuses to show you his driver's
license, take that as a red flag."

If you have an especially nice car, that you really would hate to see wrecked, you should also make sure to go on the test drive.

On the other hand, if you're selling a jalopy, the consequences are less severe should the prospective buyer total your car or damage it. We'd be less concerned about going on the test drive in that case. (In fact, with the insurance settlement, it might work to your advantage!)

If you're a woman, we'd humbly suggest you think carefully about whether you want to go out on a test drive with an unknown man. You may be putting yourself at personal risk. And, if you think you can tell whether someone is trustworthy by his looks, we'd like you to take this little test.

Meeting a Prospective Buyer

This should cause you to reconsider whether you want to go on a test drive with any unknown guy. If you have any doubts, arrange to have a friend there with you, for the test drive portion of the transaction.

Finally, before you head out on a test drive, we'd suggest you ask to see the prospective buyer's driver's license. Write down his full name, and the license number. If he asks why, tell him your insurance company requires it. Hang on to the information, until the transaction is done and the check has cleared. It's good protection, in case you have the misfortune to be scammed.

If the buyer refuses to show you his driver's license, take that as a red flag. Get the license plate number of his car, and call the cops.