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How To Sell a Used Car

How To Sell a Used Car

Time to get rid of your current car? Here’s how to do it yourself.

By FamilyTime

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When you are ready for a new car, you probably will want to sell your old car, and for too many of us, this is cause for anxiety. Should we trade it in or sell it privately?

Most of the time, we trade the car in at the dealership. It’s clean, easy, fast, and results in a small reduction in the price of the new car — whether it’s pre-owned or brand, spanking new. All true, but on the other hand, you never will get the same money from a dealer as you will from a private sale.

If you have the time and patience, a private sale is the best way to profit from the vehicle that has served you so faithfully. Here are some pointers:

Research the Right Price
There are sites on the Internet that will help you price your car. Spend a little time looking at sites offering cars similar to yours to get an idea of what you can expect. There also are online forums devoted to different makes and models of autos that are helpful.

Ask the dealer to give you a price on a trade-in. Chances are you already are working with a salesperson -- or will be -- for the new car. This price will give you a good place to start. While this number will be significantly lower than the one you eventually will ask, it is helpful nonetheless.

Once you come up with a fair price, commit to it. Some people prefer a non-negotiable price, while others like some wiggle room. If you are among the latter group, know what the bottom line is and then determine not to go below it.

In either case, stand firm! If your car is worth $10,000, don’t accept half that amount from the first person who comes along with a sob story.

Fix Up the Car

If your car needs an oil change, do it. If it needs other maintenance repairs, do them, too. You want the car to run smoothly — not cough and sputter when the key is turned.

Detail your car inside and out. You can do this yourself or take it to a car wash. This means a thorough cleaning that includes the carpet, floor mats, seats, windows, dashboard, tires, and exterior. Wax the car, too, so that it shines.

If you take the car to a car wash, go over it again once you get it home. Buff knobs and buttons, make sure all trash is gone from the trunk and under the seats, give the windows a once over.

The goal is to make your car as “new looking” as you can. Inside and out.

Organize, Organize

If you have kept your service receipts (and you should), dig them out, put them in chronological order and arrange them neatly in a file or notebook. This will impress the buyer.

Obtain the Auto Check Report and Vehicle History Report for your car. Having these to show the buyer will go a long way to reassuring him or her that you are not trying to scam anyone. A little research online should help you find these reports.

Advertise Online advertising on sites that sell cars is a good idea. It’s less costly than taking out a classified in the local newspaper and will expose you to more buyers. On the other hand, the local print shopper or free paper reaches your neighbors — those folks who might not be too far away.

It’s a good idea to advertise both online and in print, with the emphasis online.

Put a sign in the car’s window with the make, model, mileage and your phone number. Don’t offer the price.

Make sure you say the price is “firm” or “non-negotiable.” You may have decided that you will, if need be, knock $500 off the price, but you don’t want buyers to think they can talk you down before they see the car.

Get Ready for the Hassles
Your phone number and / or email is out there and you will hear from all sorts of people. Weed out those who don’t sound serious, and then get ready to meet some strangers. This is the part of the process many sellers don’t like.

Never let a buyer test drive the car unless you (or two or you) go along for the ride. If he or she wants to get the car checked by an independent mechanic, go with the car to the garage.

Make sure the buyer has a valid driver’s license and is insured before he gets behind the wheel of your car.

When your car is for sale, your phone may ring at inconvenient times. You may have to give up Saturday afternoons or wait around for no-shows (this will happen). All part of the process.

Be sensible about how you are paid. Some buyers expect cash, others a certified check. If you know the buyer or he or she is a friend of a friend, you may be satisfied with a personal check (deposit it right away and make sure it clears).

Understand the Paperwork
Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will be able to tell you exactly what documents you need to sell the car. Their website is a good place to start.

Depending on the state you live in, the buyer may be able to take possession of the car before you pay off your car loan. In others, you will have to pay the loan first. Find out about this before you make a deal by contacting the financial institution that gave you the loan.

When you make out the bill of sale, it’s always a good idea to add the words “as is” or “sale final” to the agreement. This gives you a little protection.

In any event, you will have to sign over the title to the buyer and he or she will have to visit the DMV to pay the taxes and get a valid registration and new license plates.

After your old car leaves your driveway, you can go about the fun of buying a new car with some money in your pocket. Before you do, take down the ads (if you can) so that your phone will stop ringing.

Good luck!

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Tagged With: used car, private sale, pre-owned car, sale, car dealer

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