5 issues you may face when selling your car privately

24 August 2018

Selling your car privately is a good option for those wanting to try to get the maximum amount of money for their vehicle. Selling your car privately however, comes with a few challenges and issues you should be aware of before embarking on this process.


When selling your car privately, you are going to get a lot of phone calls from strangers who want to come over to your house and inspect your car.

Some people can find this process a bit unsettling if they live alone or just like their personal space. This is why if it makes you feel more comfortable, a good idea might be to schedule a single day for multiple potential buyers to inspect your car and have a friend or family member there with you.

By doing this, not only will it make you feel safer, but a lot of buyers will also feel more comfortable. In saying that, don’t invite your biggest and scariest friends to scare away potential sales.

Offering your chaperone a free lunch is a great way to sweeten the deal!

Another option is to organise your car to be inspected in neutral territory, such as the car park at a shopping mall. Some generous sellers even offer to drive their vehicle to the buyer’s home to inspect and possibly test drive.


Don’t be offended when a potential buyer wants to haggle. Negotiation is a common part of the private car selling process and some do it better than others.

The most important thing you can do is not let yourself be pressured into selling.

If you have decided on a price to sell your car for and you feel it is fair, don’t let the buyer bring you down – unless you are happy to. Some sellers intentionally advertise a slightly higher price for their vehicle so they can bring it down for the buyer, but be careful you don’t put people off if they think your car is overpriced.

If you feel the buyer is pressuring you or being rude, just remember, there are plenty of fish in the sea and another buyer will come along soon enough.


Be careful, there are scams out there and car sellers are a common target. The best tactic you can employ to avoid scams, is to just use common sense.

When allowing a potential buyer to take your car for a test drive, make sure you accompany them. Not only is this important for insurance purposes, but to ensure your car comes back.

Another widespread scam is where a fake buyer claims they have transferred the funds to you either digitally, or by giving you a fake cheque, when they actually haven’t transferred anything. They may even send you a fake screenshot of the funds transfer to better sell you on the idea they had honoured the payment, but in truth, no payment was ever made.

The best way to protect yourself from scams like this is to make sure that the payment has gone through and is clear in your account before signing the transfer paperwork and handing the keys over.


There are a lot of ways payments can go wrong, whether it be a scam or a simple misunderstanding. There are some simple steps you can take to make the sale of your car much easier.

Pay in full or installments

When selling your car to a private buyer, always try to accept payment in full. Some buyers, particularly young buyers, will ask to pay in instalments. If you are happy to do this, make sure you have the terms of the agreement and payment plan in writing, signed by both parties.

Having a lawyer look over this contract before signing is a good idea to avoid loopholes and misinterpretations.

If you agree to this structure, be prepared for the chance that the buyer will make payments later than agreed, miss payments, or decide to not pay at all.

Payment method

A direct funds transfer to your account is often the safest and fastest way to get paid for the sale of your vehicle. Accepting payment through a mutual third-party platform such as PayPal is also often a safe way to accept payment.

You can also accept a bank cheque or money order, however, as stated above, always ensure payment has cleared in your account before handing over the keys.

No matter which payment method, but in particular with cash payments, make sure to record a Receipt of Sale for your own records and to also give to the buyer.


Depending on what state you live in and the condition of your car, you will need to complete different kinds of paperwork to transfer the car from your name to the buyers’.

If you are selling a car that is in working order and is intended to be driven (not a broken-down bomb), you will need to provide the buyer with a Certificate of Roadworthiness. Check with your state government if there are any conditions for this. For example, in Victoria, the certificate must be more than 30 days old when the sale takes place.

Registration is also something you will need to navigate depending on whether you intend to sell the car as something to be driven, or as scrap metal.

If you are selling the vehicle for scrap, depending on your state, you may not need to have a Roadworthy Certificate and can therefore save money on having to get the vehicle inspected by a mechanic.

As always, if you are unsure what paperwork you need, speak to the regulatory authority in your state for advice.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.