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It’s always an interesting conversation when a buyer contacts you after the sale has gone through and both parties have gone their separate ways. We’ve all been there. You just sold a car that worked perfectly well for you, or a car that was problematic and you spent the time and effort to fix. It’s been a day or a few since money changed hands, and you get a text. “Did the check engine light ever come on for you?” The following decision to respond or not is determined by several factors from the overall transaction, but the ultimate goal is a cordial relationship that creates peace on both sides.

This is a serious crossroads for many. Whether or not I respond to that sort of text depends greatly on the nature of the deal, how much I liked the car, and how much I liked the buyer. Having sold 14 cars, I’ve encountered this situation a few times. Every single time has been a little different, but I’ve always given the buyers a slice of my time to respond. I’ve never sold a car that I tried to pass off as broken, so I feel that I owe the buyer a few texts with whatever info they need.

However, that courtesy doesn’t last long for most deals or for some situations. If it’s a problem I didn’t see during my ownership or if I keep getting bugged for weeks, I will quickly end the dialogue. If I didn’t really like the buyer or took the deal begrudgingly, then my time for it will also be limited. 

As an example, my BMW 335i ownership experience is well-documented. That car was a shitshow that I wanted to rid myself of. I fixed it as best as I could and sold it with some issues present. The car had several oil leaks, but it ran pretty well, made tons of power, and never threw a check engine code. Incredibly, the car waited until two days after I sold it to throw a lean code for the next owner. The dude asked me if I ever had that issue and I didn’t, so there wasn’t much of a remedy there. I sent my text and preferred to not hear back again. I also lost a lot of money on that deal and preferred forgetting about it.

As long as I am honest in the listing and in my conversations with the buyer, I don’t worry much. I just sold a car recently that I semi-lovingly restored and drove for several thousand miles. Somehow, it also waited for the new owner to pop a check engine light. This time, the buyer paid me close to what I asked for, was incredibly nice and cool, and the issue was minor enough that I could easily help with it. On this deal, I’ll help until the issue is fixed because it could have easily been my fault. Also, it is a car with a small community of folks and an even smaller community of cool folks that I’d like to help and keep alive.

Generally, I will respond to a buyer texting me with questions. So far, I haven’t been accused of any wrongdoing, but the day it happens I will likely not respond to that sort of thing. The real question is, what sort of responsibility do you feel for a car you just sold? Do you make a clean break or do you support until the end? 

Tell us in the comments and join in for Hooptie Happy Hour to hear us jabber about it.

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