Edmunds offers tips to safely sell your used car

(April 26, 2011) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — While selling your car through Internet and classified ads is generally a safe practice, there are enough documented cases of fraud, scams, robbery and even personal attacks to give anyone some pause.

Edmunds.com offers several tips to minimize your personal risk in private-party used-car sales with its consumer advice column, "Sell Your Car Safely."

After consultations with police and based on personal experiences, Edmunds.com shares several nuggets to keep you safe through every step of the sales process — from screening buyers, to the meet-up and test drive, to the vehicle's negotiation and sale. Above all else, though, Edmunds.com highlights four key tips that private-party sellers should always keep in mind:

    • Vet callers thoroughly. Ask lots of questions about what the buyers are looking for and what their needs are. The more you engage in conversation, the more of a feel you will get of the buyer.

    • Don't go to a meeting alone. "People are less apt to harm you if there is someone else there," advises Sgt. Rico Fernandez of the Long Beach Police Department.

    • Meet in a public place. Instead of having the buyer come to your place (or vice versa), arrange to meet him or her at a public space like a shopping mall parking lot.

   • Trust your gut. If you're not comfortable meeting with a potential buyer for any reason, simply hang up or cancel your meeting.

"Some people aren't comfortable meeting with strangers under any circumstances, and if that's the case, they should turn the sale over to an auto broker or trade in the vehicle," said Edmunds.com's senior consumer editor Philip Reed. "You'll have to accept that you might not get the best deal, but peace of mind is priceless."