How tech is helping used car sales with safe transaction zones

Safe Transaction Zones | Woman takes a photo of her car in preparation to sell it.

Buying or selling a vehicle (or just about anything else) online can be intimidating. Who wants to meet up with potentially sketchy characters at your home, or go to the other person’s home? No one. You don’t have to look too hard to read real-life horror stories of people who showed up for a transaction and were robbed – or worse. There was even an episode of the TV show “Criminal Minds” about a guy who murdered people on test drives. Honestly, the vintage Datsun 240Z was the best part of that episode.

Safe Transaction Zones

To address the problem of bad guys among the ever-growing number of transactions that start online and end in person, cities and businesses are working to establish monitored meeting places for people to conduct transactions.

Automobile transactions present numerous special challenges that don’t apply when you’re selling a guitar or a laptop.

For example, California’s Orange County Register reports the police departments of Buena Park and Irvine have established reserved parking spaces, covered by cameras, at their respective headquarters. This idea is gaining traction around the country, with many other police departments and city governments implementing similar safe meeting places for online-based transactions.

Technology is playing its part in making Internet transactions safer, too. The website lists dozens of known safe transaction locations across the United States, and adds new locations as they become known.

Safe Deal Zone
Washington Township Police Department

“As safe transaction zones are starting to pop up all over the country we thought it would be a good idea to create a way to collect and list available locations,” the Safe Deal Zone website explains. Safe Deal Zone provides only the locations, however. You have to find the car to buy on your own.

But what about cars?

Automobile transactions present numerous special challenges that don’t apply when you’re selling a guitar or a laptop. It starts with the test drive. Do you give the person the key, let them go alone, and risk car theft, or do you ride along and risk making the evening news in a bad way?

Blinker, a car selling app, performs an exhaustive fraud check on every vehicle sold on the platform and includes a free Carfax for all listings.

Then there’s arranging the pre-purchase inspection, handling a large amount of cash or a risky cashier’s check, handing over the title with your address on it, and finally handing over the car while it’s still registered to you. More than one seller has had a tense visit from the cops months later because the buyer never changed the registration and used the car to commit a crime.

Serial auto dealership entrepreneur Rod Buscher thinks he has a pretty good solution to all that, so he created a car sales app called Blinker. The app launched in 2016 and Blinker says its platform has facilitated over $45 million in transactions to date. The Blinker app was even nominated for a Webby award for best use of mobile camera. Buscher’s company currently holds 13 patents for the photo technology it uses to show cars for sale.

“Blinker provides an end-to-end solution, allowing anyone to sell their car, buy a car with financing, or refinance a car all on their own,” the company stated. “Blinker verifies the identity of every buyer and seller, as well as ownership records of each vehicle.”


The app performs ID work on the buyer and seller. It also handles the money transfer with encrypted banking information and more.

“Blinker performs an exhaustive fraud check on every vehicle sold on the platform and includes a free Carfax for all listed cars,” the company points out. Though Blinker currently operates in California, Colorado, Texas, and Florida, it plans to expand nationwide as soon as possible.

A new business opportunity

Here’s the most interesting part: Blinker has also teamed up with Big O Tires to offer authorized safe test-drive sites at 36 Denver locations. This is an idea that could revolutionize safe transaction zones and give a boost to businesses that get on board. Buyers and sellers can see a list of participating safe transaction zones on the Blinker app before agreeing to meet.

“After seeing police stations creating [safe deal zones] across the U.S., we had the idea of establishing … safe locations for vehicle test drives.”

“The Blinker team has watched the trends and industry closely and understood that many consumers are uneasy about in-person exchanges, even when meeting during the daytime in public places,” Blinker’s PR staff told Digital Trends. “In the last several years, there’s been a trend of thefts and injuries during these transactions regardless of the time of day.”

The partnership between Blinker and Big O Tires is currently limited to the Denver area, but the idea is so simple and beneficial that it’s likely to spring up elsewhere. The benefit for a participating business is that it can offer quick pre-purchase inspections on the cars bought and sold at their safe location.

road rave how tech is helping used car sales with safe transaction zones big o tires storefront blinker partnership
Big O Tires

“After seeing police stations creating e-commerce exchange zones across the U.S., we had the idea of establishing the same designated safe locations for vehicle test drives,” said Andrew Price, Chief Marketing Officer for Blinker. “Plus, since we leave the inspection process up to our customers, buyers can conveniently get vehicle inspections at Big O Tires locations, too.”

The idea is genius for buyers and sellers who want a safe place to do business and for participating businesses. No one wants to buy a car with bald tires and hear the seller try to say there’s nothing they could do about it while standing in front of a tire store.

Product Review

Hyundai’s luxurious Tucson suffocates you with more – in a good way

The refreshed 2019 Hyundai Tucson may be one of the more affordable compact SUVs on the market, but there are more safety features than before as standard, as well as a hint of luxury.

Looking for love or just some fun? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.

Red Dead Online poker missing in some parts of the world due to gambling laws

The massive update for Red Dead Online as it left beta added poker, among many other things, to the online component of Red Dead Redemption 2. Some players can't access the card game though, due to the gambling laws of their country.
Smart Home

Walmart vs. Amazon: Which has better prices, shipping, and customer service?

Both Walmart and Amazon have their good points and bad, and we compare the two online retailers side-by-side. Where's the better place to shop online, Amazon or Walmart? Let's find out.

Gmail logs your purchase history, undermining Google’s commitment to privacy

Google has tried to portray itself as privacy-focused. But a new report shows Google tracks many of your online purchases, even if they are bought from a non-Google affiliated store like Amazon.

Insiders claim the Tesla Model S nearly became the long-rumored Apple car

Apple offered to buy Tesla in 2013, according to an analyst who spoke to people familiar with the talks. Apple made Tesla a great offer, but the deal fell through when Elon Musk refused to step away from the company he helped found.

Parents will never miss soccer practice with BMW’s new 523-horsepower SUVs

BMW is launching M Performance versions of its biggest SUVs, the X5 and X7. While not full-on M models, they do pack 523-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engines, allowing both SUVs to sprint from zero to 60 mph in under five seconds.

Don’t trust Tesla’s new autonomous lane-changing feature, Consumer Reports warns

Consumer Reports warns that last month's Autopilot updates that enabled automatic lane changing may put you at risk of a ticket or accident. Reaction times lagged what a human could do, testers say.

Texas awaits one signature to put a statewide stop to red light cameras

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs state House Bill 1631 into law, he will bring a halt to red light cameras in the state. The central issue in the bill's passage is the presumption of guilt of the registered owner of the car.

EV owners may still need to stop at a Chevron station, but not to buy gasoline

EVgo, the operator of a sizable network of electric car charging stations, has partnered with Chevron. Five Chevron stations located in California will install EVgo chargers that electric car owners can pay to use.

Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV tries to balance power and efficiency with mild-hybrid V8

The redesigned Mercedes-Benz GLE will get a V8 mild-hybrid powertrain when it launches in the United States later in 2019. The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 483 hp on its own, but can also get a 21 hp electric boost.

Audi TT will get the ax to make way for electric cars — and the R8 may be next

Once a design leader, the Audi TT will meet its demise to make room in Audi's lineup for more electric cars. Audi executives confirmed plans to kill off the TT at the automaker's annual shareholder meeting.

Honda recalls 119,000 2019 CR-V crossovers over fears of airbag deployment

A manufacturing defect in select 2019 Honda CR-V crossovers could cause the airbag to malfunction and unexpectedly deploy, leading the automaker to recall some 137,000 vehicles worldwide, 118,598 of them in the U.S.

Cadillac confirms V-Series performance versions of the CT5 and CT4

Cadillac will unveil CT5-V and CT4-V sports sedans in Detroit May 30. They will be the latest cars in the General Motors luxury brand's V-Series performance line, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.