How to sell a car

How to sell a car

Selling a car
If it’s time to sell your car, there are proven steps you can take to maximize its value and provide both parties to the transaction with a happy outcome. Getty Images

Congratulations! You have decided to sell your car, truck or sport utility car and, like most of us, you would like to get the top dollar for your vehicle. As used vehicle values ​​are at an all-time high thanks to Covid-19 and chip shortage, you have an edge. But there are a few simple and proven steps that can help you really maximize your car’s selling price.

Before selling, there are a few questions you should consider:

  • Do I sell for purchase of a new or used car?
  • Are you selling because you no longer want a vehicle?
  • Are you willing to put in equity sweat to maximize your profit?
  • Do you still owe money for the vehicle you are trying to sell?

Let’s start with the last item on the list, as if you owe money, you will need to contact your lender and advise them of the potential sale to prepare the vehicle title for the transfer. Many car dealerships will handle this step for you, and dealership efforts may include transferring the existing payment into the loan you are taking out on any new vehicle you are purchasing.

If you owe more money than your car is currently worth using popular vehicle valuation guides, you are “upside down” on your loan. For example, you bought your car for $ 30,000 and still owe $ 18,000. Your vehicle has been valued by the dealer at $ 14,000, which means you are upside down by $ 4,000.

You will need to write a check for that amount or roll it into a new loan if you want to part with the car. Being upside down rarely works in your favor, particularly if you have a low credit score.

If you are not upset, read on how to maximize your profit.

Sweat equity

I have bought and sold quite a few cars over the years, and one thing I always get compliments for is the overall “like new” condition of my vehicles. Dealers have professional retailers at their disposal to ensure that even battered cars look as clean as the day they left the factory. Since that’s what you’re competing with for potential buyers, there’s no reason your car shouldn’t look good.

Car details
Be prepared to do some work, or pay someone to do it for you. Car dealerships have staff on hand to make their cars look great to potential buyers, but doing these jobs yourself will make you more money for your car. Getty Images

Clean it up!

If your vehicle looks its best and runs well, you lead a seller’s market. Follow these steps for up to dollars:

Clean, clean, clean and clean some more – start with the exterior and thoroughly wash and wax your vehicle. Make sure you put the garden hose under your car to wash dirt off the underbody and fender wells. Although you want a clean engine compartment, don’t use water to clean under the hood, as water can wreak havoc on the underhood electronics.

Use clean towels and a good cleaning spray like Simple Green under the hood to remove years of grime from engine covers, fluid tanks and anything you can reach and clean safely. Do not clean under the hood while the vehicle is running or if the engine is still hot.

After cleaning the outside areas and under the hood, apply your skills inside. Use a quality vacuum cleaner to lift dirt, coins, old fries and gravel onto the floor or seats. Pay particular attention to the spaces between the seats and the center or rear console. Use carpet or interior cleaning spray for stubborn stains. Use the appropriate cleaner for fabric, vinyl or leather seats.

Carvana dispensing tower
Online used vehicle dealers such as Carvana, Vroom and Shift have been eager to buy used vehicles for several years. They can make your sale easy and painless, but reading all the fine print is very helpful. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A thorough cleaning and detailing will cost you 2 to 7 hours of sweat depending on the condition of your car. In and out, it is important to take your time and use the correct cleaning sprays and waxes, as using the wrong detergents can damage the vehicle, lowering the sale or trade-in value.

Don’t you want to roll up your sleeves? Most good retailers will charge between $ 150 and $ 600 to bring your vehicle back to life, though some high-end detail jobs can range up to $ 2,000. Professional retailers can remove dents and dings from doors, repair scratches, polish or “fix” the paint finish to make it as good as new and detail the interior.

Even if you simply run your vehicle into a car wash and vacuum it, you will save money by having your vehicle valued at a higher value.

Sell ​​it!

Now that your vehicle is great, how are you supposed to sell it? Let’s take a look at several ways:

Used vehicle dealers online: Online operations such as Carvana and Vroom will ask you for photos and mileage of your vehicle and, based on a successful on-site inspection, will cut you a check when they come to pick up your vehicle with a flatbed truck.

On the plus side, selling this way makes the transaction quick and easy. Some offers may be higher than what you’d get from brick and mortar retailers as well. On the other hand, make sure you read all the fine print. These are still new companies and some have encountered issues with securities and payments.

Used BMW in dealership
Dealers are really looking for quality used cars, but because they have access to many different sources and trade-ins come in every day, they don’t necessarily have to pay you a higher dollar. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

For sale in dealership: Typically, retailers underestimate your rating. Many pay more for in-demand models or, during the recent fuel price hike, for vehicles that achieve great fuel economy, but will generally pay as little as possible.

It might be to your advantage to get ratings from different retailers if you choose to go this route. Keep in mind that you can sell your car to any dealer, even if you plan to buy a car from another dealer. Look for the best price you can get! Don’t be afraid to negotiate with a dealer for a higher valuation, or leave if he’s not in your baseball field.

Sell ​​it yourself: This option typically generates the best return. By selling yourself, you eliminate the middleman, but you also have to do all the work of that middleman. Make sure your vehicle looks better!

Datsun 210 wagon
Dealers are also generally disinterested in vehicles beyond a certain age. But there are really a lot of people who will shell out money for this 1981 Datsun 210 wagon. Facebook is the best place for such a car, as fan groups abound who share such lists, but auto auction sites also work. era. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Here is a model on how to sell your car to a private buyer:

Advertise. Neighbors and friends can be good places to start letting people know that your car, truck, or SUV is for sale, but you’ll also want to cast a wider network. Craigslist isn’t as busy as it once was, but it’s still a good place to list a vehicle.

Many people now advertise on Facebook Marketplace, where you can post to multiple groups or a general “Vehicles for Sale” page. I have had great success using this portal to buy and sell my cars. If you have a value or classic car, consider sites like Bring a Trailer, Hemmings, and Cars & Bids. The value of some cars from the 90s today may surprise you.

List it on an online sales portal. CarGurus, Autotrader, and TrueCar are designed for dealerships, but people can also list cars there and this earns you nationwide exposure for free or very low listing costs.

In some cases these sites will also work with local retailers to make you a cash offer. Simply enter your car details and schedule an inspection with a local dealer. Once the value of your car is determined, you receive a check. If you decide to sell it yourself, enter your vehicle details and upload your photos.

eBay. Having sold cars for more than 25 years, eBay’s listing rates are low and you can set up your vehicle for sale in an auction format (with or without reserve) or with a fixed price. You can also set up sales locally or nationally. I live in Maryland and I once purchased a car online and had it shipped from San Diego, California for $ 1,800 for insured and closed shipping. The vehicle arrived in seven days in perfect condition.

Photo of the list of faulty cars
Once you’ve cleaned your car and decided to put it up for sale, posting terrible photos will undermine your hard work. If shoppers fail to see the vehicle or the ad looks terrible, it is less likely to attract buyers. Craigslist
Good photos of the car listing
Give your audience the highest possible quality image of your vehicle. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer, but lots of clear, descriptive images will appeal to more potential buyers. Alex Kwanten

Get creative with your ad

Whichever site you choose to sell your vehicle, be descriptive. Which list would you call first?

  • Lexus LX570 from 2015. Good condition, 95,000 miles. $ 44,000.
  • Lexus LX570 from 2015, well maintained by the original owner with all service papers. Clean body with no dents or paint. Interior like new! Fantastic stereo with Bluetooth! New tires! Garage kept and always cared for. Only 95,000 miles. Look at the 12 photos attached and contact me (by email or phone) for any questions. Don’t miss out on this Lexus gem! $ 44,000. Come see it and drive it!

I’m sure we agree that the second description is better. Be sure to include sharp photos of all exterior corners, under-hood shots to show your cleanliness, trunk or sedan shots, and photos of all the rows of your interior as good as new. Terrible photos or the ones that crop most of the car will definitely put off potential buyers. The beautiful photos will make them call.

As a general safety issue, it is probably wise to arrange a meeting with a potential buyer at the local police station or in another well-lit and safe area such as a grocery store or shopping mall. Bring a friend with you when you meet a potential buyer.

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