Perspectives: When selling a vehicle, beware of scams and do research

On Friday, more than 50 different “for sale” vehicles were uploaded by their owners to the Parkersburg-Marietta section of the online classified website Craigslist.

One, a 1991 Camaro Z28, was uploaded by Marietta resident David Fankhauser.

“I just sell a lot of cars on Craigslist. I just sold a ’79 Corvette recently,” explained Fankhauser, 26.

Fankhauser is one of many individuals who avoids dealerships when it comes to selling his cars.

“Basically, dealerships aren’t going to offer what it is worth,” he said.

Around 30 percent of the nearly 40 million used cars sold in 2010 were sold by the car’s owner, according to the most recent report from the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

Many people who sell their own vehicles have come to realize they can get more money that way, said Marietta resident Shane Pugh, 57.

“A dealership has to make a profit, too. They aren’t going to give you want you want, ’cause they got to leave meat on the bone for them,” he said.

Pugh is currently selling his 1990 Dodge Ram. It is listed on Craigslist and in the Bulletin Board, he said.

Having used both frequently, Pugh has learned what pitfalls to avoid when selling your own car. Specifically on Craigslist, experienced sellers know not to type out their phone number numerically.

“The worst thing in Craigslist is the bots,” said Pugh.

Computer software has been created that can scan the website for phone numbers. Those numbers are then sold to a telemarketing service, explained Pugh.

Additionally, scam artists target people who are selling their own vehicles, said Fankhauser, who has gotten emails from people saying they can not show up in person and ask if Fankhauser will ship the car for an extra price.

“Usually people who can’t show up, they are not really interested,” he said.

He also receives a lot of blanket emails.

“It will say something vague like ‘Do you still have the item listed on Craigslist?’ That’s not how real people talk,” said Fankhauser.

Avoiding those would-be scam artists is one of the biggest benefits of choosing to sell your car to a dealership, explained Tim Flores, sales manager at Herrington Yoak Automotive in Marietta.

“There are too many crafty people out there. You are going to have strangers driving your car. Is their check good? There are all kinds of risks,” he said.

A dealership has professional knowledge to handle every step of the process, he said. They can handle the financing on site and have the experience to do all the title work.

“That stuff is important. There is a lot of title work and if there is a lien on the car there are even more steps involved,” said Flores.

Self-sellers need to be certain they are covering their legal bases, he said.

Though it has not happened to him yet, there is always a chance a buyer will come back to an owner unsatisfied and want their money back, said Fankhauser.

He makes up a bill of sale and includes in it that all sales are final.

“You can download a form, you can usually just get a piece of paper, write name and address, and write the year, make, model, and VIN,” said Fankhauser.

Something people should keep in mind before deciding to sell their own vehicle is the process is not immediate, said Pugh.

“You have to have some patience. Some cars are worth the money but you have to wait for the person that wants the car,” he said.