Mechanic Inspection On Private Party Car Sale

So I might sell a car in a couple months. It’s in pretty fair shape for its age and I will gussie it up before listing it.

I won’t be trying to hide anything and have no problem with the prospective buyer having it looked at by a mechanic, just like they tell you to do on all the courtroom TV shows.

But how do I do that considering:

  1. I’m not at all in favor of someone taking my car away for several hours because they could, you know, steal it;
    1a) And I probably won’t be in favor of giving up a couple hours to go with them;

  2. I’m not sure how my insurance works in a situation like this. My agent says that a “reasonable” test drive would be okay, but I got the feeling that could get sticky if the buyer had it for a long time, etc.;

  3. A combination of 1 and 2. Someone has my car and something happens to it. I think I can get more than Blue Book for it but if it were totalled, insurance wouldn’t be as willing to “up-price” for the almost-new tires, shocks and so forth that might be worth a couple hundred extra dollars to the buyer.

I’m not in favor of offering a warranty or a take back period. Once it’s off my property I want to insure neither bad luck, or accident.

So, how do I put this out there? What can I or potential buyer do to satisfy us that his/her mechanic likes it and I’m not in a position to get screwed?

The last time I sold a car private party I just met the guy at the mechanic (his choice and his dime) and we both waited for them to do the inspection, which only took about an hour (he made an appointment). As it turned out, the buyer was from an adjacent neighborhood and the mechanic he wanted was just a few minutes from me, so it wasn’t a huge inconvenience. I’d met the buyer and his wife a couple days prior for a test drive and hadn’t received much other interest in the car, so I was happy to spend an hour to help seal the deal. After the inspection we went to a nearby coffee shop to take care of the bill of sale and title.

I took a picture of the prospective buyer’s driver’s license, insurance card, and face. Plus, his car was parked at my house. I know some insurance companies will fight on the smallest things, but 1-2 hours to get a car inspected seems like a pretty reasonable test drive to me. Loaning a stranger your truck for the weekend so he can get some yard work done does not seem like a reasonable test drive.

Life is full of risks, and you have to weight the risk of something happening while a stranger has your car versus the risk of the prospective buyer walking because he can’t get the car inspected conveniently. On that note, what happens if you get in an accident driving the car to the mechanic to get it inspected on the buyer’s behalf?

I’ve sold five cars privately in the last 30 years, and even though several buyers asked if they could have the car inspected they never took it anyway, and bought the cars. One guy, who I later realized was a dealer of sorts, brought a mechanic with him for the test drive.

It seems like my willingness to let them get it checked out was enough.

When you say warranty or take back period, what length of time are you thinking.
It’s not uncommon (at least with motorcycles) to tell the person they’re welcome to run the car over to a mechanic, however, they have to leave the full asking amount, in cash, with you. They’re not likely to be gone for long if they’ve essentially already paid for the vehicle.
To take it a step further, I’ve heard some people mention that when they get the cash, they’ll sign the title over to the potential buyer with a bill of sale. The bill of sale will include a cause stating that if they bring the vehicle back with in 30 minutes and it’s still in the same condition, they can get a full refund.

Something like that could work. Even if it’s as simple as asking them for some percentage, up to 100, of the asking price be left with you, as well as their driver’s license, and maybe giving them some sort of written agreement that they can bring the car back by some certain time if they don’t want it.

Beyond that, if you don’t want them to leave with the car, bump the price up, mention in the ad that there’s no test rides and sell it to the first person that offers you a price you’re willing to accept.

One other thing I can think of is to have a mechanic give it a once over (as if you were buying it) perhaps the mechanic can give you something stating it has a clean bill of health (or needs certain repairs). Add the cost of that to your selling price and see if gets you anywhere.

I once sold a car “as is”. I knew there were problems (cracked exhaust manifold with a halfassed patch job) and would have come down in price if those problems were pointed out. A guy took the car to his mechanic. I held on to his driver’s license. He returned a while later and told me his mechanic gave the car a clean bill of health! No idea what that was about.

Sold a car eight years ago. Buyer paid a local mechanic for an inspection; all I had to do was drop the car off at the mechanic and pick it up the next day. The mechanic was not going to release the car to anyone except me, so not much risk there.

It will all be whether there’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market for that car. As a mechanic in a former life and as the seller of a car, if someone asked to have an independent inspection I’d make that determination based on whether there are others wanting the car. If there aren’t then I would simply make sure the car does not stay in the “potential” buyer’s possession without me present.

The prospective buyers insurance will not apply, your insurance will. You are still the legal owner, the buyer is an authorized driver of your vehicle. A seller tried to pull this on me a few months ago, I told him my insurance is not relevant for a test drive and he refused to let me take a test drive. I told him to call his insurance company and he did. He was told I would be fully covered under his policy. The test drive proceeded and I bought the car.

Can you ask for a refundable deposit?

You can ask that the potential buyer leave their infant as collateral.

I can ask for anything I want. My lovely wife usually shoots them down pointing out that, one way or another, I usually cross some type of line, be it moral or legal. :slight_smile:
(ETA: I see kayaker thought along the same lines.)

Thank you all for the replies and ideas so far. I am beginning to formulate a plan that I am sure will be modified at the time of listing.
My intention on posting was to gather ideas and make sure there wasn’t a single, simple way to do it that everyone knew but me.

Can I have it checked out at an independent pediatrician first?