Selling a Used Car Tips

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What Are Some of the Pitfalls of Selling a Car?

Avoid Some of the Common Pitfalls of Selling a Car

When you sell your car, you could run into a few problems. Use these tips to avoid the pitfalls.

Make the Test Drive Safe

  • Of course the potential buyer will want to take the car for a test drive. Protect yourself by:
    • Riding along (arrange to have a friend with you for safety).
    • Checking for a valid driver's license and adequate car insurance before you get in the car.
    • Retain control of the keys. Do not leave the keys in the ignition if you get out of the car, even if it is only for a moment. It is not a thief's job to announce his/her intentions or to “look the part.”

Weed Out Time Wasters
Let's face it; selling a car can be time consuming. Don't compound the problem by concentrating your efforts on individuals that will never be buyers.

Don't Turn Down Reasonable Offers
It is wise to have your price range in mind when selling a car, but that shouldn't mean you can't be flexible to make the sale. The potential buyer offers a price that is $200 or so less than your firm offer. Should you take it? Unless you have another serious offer, probably so. You may easily spend at least half that much with ongoing advertising and insurance or registration fees if you hold onto the car.

What Are the Advantages of Selling a Car as an Individual?

Advantages of Selling a Car as an Individual

Invest yourself in selling your car. It may seem like a hassle but the rewards, if you do the work, are worth it. Why? Read on for some tips.

Many Individuals Prefer Not to Work With a Used Car Dealer.

  • A few bad apples have given the larger pool of used car dealers a bad reputation. As a result, many used car buyers would rather work with an individual.
  • Don't worry about what you can't offer that a dealer can (for example, a warranty). Concentrate on any perceived advantages customers may associate with buying from an individual.

Having a hard time thinking of those advantages? Here are a few.

  • Especially if you have been the only owner of the vehicle you know everything there is to know about the car. You can share detailed information with potential buyers about the history of the car and its advantages.
  • Selling a used car usually requires less of an individual than it does a dealer. Because you have no overhead, employees, etc. you many be able to sell your car at a lower price than the dealer could. In fact, many individuals assume that cars are cheaper when sold by individuals.

What Are My Responsibilities When Selling a Car

The Legal Side of Your Used Car Sale

Learn the Laws of Your State

This step is important for buyers as well as sellers as each has related responsibilities.

  • Each state has different laws concerning your responsibilities when selling a car. Some of these may include smog certification and odometer statements.
  • To learn about your responsibilities regarding title transfer deadlines, etc., visit your local Department of Motor Vehicle Office. Buyers that do not transfer the title within the specified time frame may be subject to fines and/or citations.

Review Your Title Before You Advertise

  • Make sure that you have the title in hand before you attempt to sell your used car.
  • You should also be sure that the title is clear. For example, have you forgotten any title loans or are there any other complications that would stand in the way of a sale?

Have Copies of All Documents On Hand

  • Anything you intend to provide to the driver should be available at the time of sale.
    • This includes service records (you may want to make copies for yourself in case future problems arise with the sale)
    • The original title.
    • Bill of sale
    • The Owner's Manual
    • Contracts or warranties, if provided. If not, a statement that the car is sold as is.

How Can I Sell My Car?

Helping Your Car Sell Itself

You know that a car that looks good is more likely to sell, so increase your chances of selling your car by doing the following:

  • Wash and wax your used car
  • Empty the trunk
  • Be sure tires are properly inflated
  • Get an oil change if needed
  • Invest in minor repairs
  • Vacuum and shampoo the interior
  • Don't forget your tires. Be sure hubcaps are clean and that they match
  • Ask a friend to take your car for a test drive and give it a once over. Your friend may catch things you are likely to miss.

Research Used Car Ads
Learn the appropriate language and terminology so you can describe your car in the most advantageous way and appeal to your target audience. Your ad should provide useful information that motivates the buyer to contact you. What features does your car offer? How can you best describe your car's appeal to your target audience?

Don't Be Afraid To Price Your Car Outside Guide Range
If your car includes options that are not considered in blue book pricing guides it is okay to adjust your price accordingly. One caveat: be able to substantiate any price differential with documentation of any upgrades/add-ons and their value.

How Should I Prepare to Sell My Car?

Sealing the Used Car Deal

You've done the work. Finally, a buyer is ready to sign on the dotted line and drive away. The car is sold but can you count on the cash? Here are some tips to make sure you don't get left holding an empty bag.

Decide Before the Buyer Arrives What Forms of Payment You Will Accept

  • For buyers that sound serious, it is a good idea to share this information via email or during a phone call. You don't want to lose the sale because the buyer doesn't have the form of payment you want.

  • Cash is best, but given the amount of some used cars it isn't always possible. If you accept a cashier's check or money order be sure that it is valid (yes, fakes have been passed), verify funds on personal checks before your turn over the keys.

Get Complete Contact Information for the Buyer

  • If the payment turns out to be invalid you should have some recourse. You can protect yourself by getting valid contact information from the buyer that you can use to follow up (in case the bad check was an honest mistake) or contact authorities if it wasn't.

Put All Agreements in Writing

  • Whether the car is sold as is or you intend to provide a warranty, you should be sure to detail it in writing. The buyer and the seller should receive signed copies of the document.

What Should I Know About Selling a Used Car?

Selling Your Used Car

There are a few steps you should take to sell your used car. Here they are:

Do Your Homework First to Sell Your Car Fast
How marketable is your car? Is it currently in vogue or has it fallen out of favor? As you might imagine, this must be considered before selling your car. If the car is not popular where you are, you may need to find out where it is popular and take it there.

Define Your Target Market
Different types and styles of cars appeal to different groups of people. Think about your used car. Who is most likely to want it? Will you likely be selling to soccer moms or college students, guys that want to make an impression or business travelers?

When you know who you are trying to reach, you can more effectively tailor your ads in terms of language and placement. For example, college students and soccer moms probably don't often frequent the same websites or respond to the same kinds of ads.

Be Realistic About Your Chances of Selling Your Car
Set a realistic price that considers market and used car prices as well as your car's condition and any flaws. It isn't a bad idea to leave a little cushion for negotiating, but not too much – you don't want to scare off buyers or look as if you haven't done your homework.

What Can I Do if My Used Car Won't Sell?

What to Do When Your Used Car Won't Sell

So you've tried everything to sell your car. You've cleaned it up, set a fair price and advertised everywhere you can think of. Now what? Here are some tips to sell your car when all else has failed.

Get Help
You've heard of consignment stores for clothes and furniture. Consignment services also exist for cars. If you haven't had any luck selling your car, you may want to give a broker a try. Before you decide, research the service carefully to be sure that you are dealing with an honest operation.

Consider a Used Car Dealer
Mega sellers, such as CarMax, purchase cars from individuals all the time. There is even a bonus – say your car is more popular and more likely to sell in another market, a mega seller can get it there and off your hands.

Try an Auto Auction
An online auction site, such as eBay motors, may offer just the opportunity you need to sell your car. Set a start and stop date, then watch the bids roll in. One caveat; be sure you understand about auto scams such as fake escrow services before you take this route.

When all Else Fails, Don't Forget Charity
You may eligible for a tax credit and the opportunity to help someone else is priceless.

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