When you’re ready to sell your car, you generally have two options. One, to sell it do a car dealer; and two, to privately sell your car to another driver. Typically, private sales have the potential to net 10 to 20 percent more for your vehicle than selling it to a dealer. Choosing to sell your car yourself comes with some added responsibilities, but by following these easy and helpful steps, you may be able to turn your used car into cash!
Price Your Car Competitively
When you’re figuring out a fair price for your used car, there are several helpful online tools that you can use. The Edmunds Appraisal tool and the Kelley Blue Book are both reliable sources to begin your research on how to determine a fair and reasonable price for your used car based on year, mileage, condition, and other factors.
It’s important to start out by pricing your car a little bit above the lowest price you would be willing to accept for your vehicle. This leaves you with a little bit of room to negotiate.
Show Off Your Car
When selling your car, presentation is everything. You want to make sure your car looks clean and attractive; you want to give it “curb appeal.” Take the time to wash, vacuum, and detail the car. Get out all of the trash, wipe down the dashboard, empty any ashtrays, and thoroughly clean all the windows and mirrored surfaces. You’re also going to want to clean out any personal possessions that are in the car. That way, when a potential buyer goes for a test drive, they can imagine the car as their own.
Be Up Front and Organized
Get the car inspected by a licensed mechanic before showing it off to any prospective buyers. Gather up all available maintenance records and warranty information and have it on hand to share with any potential buyers. Be up front about the current condition of the vehicle, and make sure to let them know of any and all problems with the car. By being straightforward, organized, and punctual, a prospective buyer is more likely to feel that you are reliable and trustworthy.
Create Ads That Sell
When it’s time to spread the word that you are selling, you want to place ads in at least three places. A lot of people use websites like Craig’s List or Cars.com to sell their car. But don’t limit yourself to just selling online. Consider posting flyers around your town, or talk to your mechanic. They can let their other customers who might be in the market aware that you’re selling.
When you sit down to write the ad for your car, keep in mind that sometimes less is more! A small amount of words can send a pretty big message. Other than the price, you should include the year, make, and model of your used car. Other things you may choose to include are the mileage, condition, color, and special customization options. When selling a used car, there are a couple of common abbreviations and phrases commonly used to let buyers know important information. If you are relocating and looking to sell quickly, think about including “Must Sell!” on your advertisement to let people know. “OBO” stands for “or best offer” and tells the seller that you’re open to selling the car for less than your asking price.
Screen Potential Buyers
Most prospective buyers are going to be contacting you online, so it’s very important to get an idea of whom you’re communicating with. If you’re communicating via email, be sure to re-send the details of your ad and answer any questions that the buyer might have. It’s a good idea to ask for their full name and to provide yours, as well as clarifying payment methods up front. When you collect payment for the vehicle, only accept a cashier’s check or cash. You should never accept personal checks or have someone plan to pay you in installments – it’s not worth your time and can get you into a lot of trouble.
Go For a Test Drive
The test drive is a crucial part of your car selling process – it’s the moment where buyers are going to see and feel exactly how the car operates and whether they can visualize themselves in the vehicle. When setting up a test drive, you want to choose a safe location in a public place. Double check and ask for the buyer’s driver’s license and proof of insurance before letting them get behind the wheel of your car – if they’re uninsured, you could be responsible for any accidents. During the test drive, take the opportunity to talk the buyer about what kind of car they currently have and what they’re looking for. This way, you’ll be able to play up your car’s strengths to make it even more appealing to the buyer’s needs.
Negotiate the Sale
Negotiating the price of a car can often be awkward and uncomfortable. Common openers that buyers may use are “I like the car, but…”, “What’s your best price?”, and “Would you accept…?”. Be prepared and think of your responses to these questions ahead of time. When you first put your car out there for sale, it’s important to stick to your price. If after a while, you are not getting the offers you are looking for, you may want to consider adjusting the price.
Finalizing the Sale
Each state has different rules in regards to the sale of motor vehicles – be sure to check your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) to know what you need to do. Once you receive money from the sale, write down the odometer reading and sign the car’s title over to the buyer. By doing this, you are protecting yourself from being held liable for the car by establishing the time when it left your possession. After you sign over the car to the buyer, call your insurance agency and cancel your policy or transfer the coverage to your new car.
After the Sale
Most of the time, used cars are sold “as is,” which means if it breaks down after you sell it, you have no obligation to refund the buyer’s money or pay for any repairs. If you follow all DMV rules and regulations and sell your car according to the guidelines, you should have little to no problems.
Following these easy steps will help make selling your used car a successful and enjoyable experience!