How to sell a car

How to sell a car

sell a car
When it comes time to sell your car, there are proven steps you can take to maximize its value and provide a happy outcome for both sides of the transaction. Getty Images

Congratulations! You have decided to sell your car, truck or SUV and like most of us you would like to get the maximum price for your vehicle. With used car values ​​at all-time highs thanks to Covid-19 and chip shortages, you have an advantage. But there are some simple, proven steps that can help you really maximize the selling price of your car.

Before you sell, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are you selling a new or used car?
  • Are you selling because you no longer want a vehicle?
  • Ready to use sweat capital to maximize your profits?
  • Do you still owe money for the vehicle you want to sell?

Let’s start with the last item on the list, as if you owe money you need to contact your lender and make them aware of the possible sale in order to prepare the vehicle title for the transfer. Many car dealers will take care of this step for you, and the dealer’s effort may consist of putting your existing payment into the loan you are taking out on any new vehicle you buy.

If you owe more money than the car is currently worth, your credit will be upside down. For example – You bought your car for $30,000 and still owe $18,000. Your vehicle was dealer valued at $14,000, which means you’re upside down at $4,000.

You must write a check for this amount or have it converted into a new loan if you wish to part with the car. Being on your head rarely works in your favor, especially if you have a low credit score.

If you’re not upside down, read on for how to maximize your profits.

sweat equity

I’ve bought and sold quite a few cars over the years and one thing I always get compliments on is the overall ‘like new’ condition of my vehicles. Dealers have professional detailers on hand to make even battered cars look as clean as the day they left the factory. Since you’re competing for potential buyers, there’s no reason why your car shouldn’t look just as good.

Professional car care
Be willing to do some work or pay someone to do it for you. Car dealerships have employees who present their cars beautifully to potential buyers, but doing this work yourself will get you more money for your car. Getty Images

Clean it!

When your vehicle looks and runs well, you’re in charge at a seller’s market. Follow these steps for maximum dollars:

Clean, clean, clean and more clean – start with the exterior and wash and wax your vehicle thoroughly. Be sure to run the garden hose under your car to remove debris from the underbody and fenders. Although you want a clean engine compartment, do not use water to clean under the hood as water can damage under hood electronics.

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

After cleaning the exterior and engine bay areas, apply your skills to the interior. Use a good quality vacuum to pick up dirt, coins, old french fries, and gravel on the floor or seats. Pay particular attention to the gaps between the seats and the center or rear console. For stubborn stains, use a carpet or interior cleaning spray. Use the appropriate cloth, vinyl or leather seat cleaner.

Carvana dispensing tower
Online used car dealers like Carvana, Vroom and Shift have been keen to buy used cars for a number of years. You can make your sale easy and painless, but reading all the fine print really pays off. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A thorough cleaning and detailing will cost you about 2 to 7 hours of welding equity depending on the condition of your car. Inside and out, it’s important to take your time and use the right cleaning sprays and waxes, as using the wrong cleaning products can damage your vehicle and reduce its sale or trade-in value.

Don’t feel like rolling up your sleeves? Most good detailers will charge between $150 and $600 to bring your vehicle back to life, although some high-end detailing can cost upwards of $2,000. Professional detailers can remove dents and dents on doors, repair scratches, buff or “fix” your paintwork to look like new, and add interior detail.

Even if you simply drive your vehicle through a car wash and vacuum it, you’ll save money by having your vehicle appraised at a higher value.

Sell ​​it!

Now that your vehicle looks great, how should you sell it? Let’s look at several possibilities:

Online used car dealers: Online companies like Carvana and Vroom will ask you for photos and mileage of your vehicle and, if they pass an on-site inspection, will write you a check when they pick up your vehicle with a pickup truck.

On the plus side, selling this way makes for a quick and easy transaction. Some offers may also be higher than brick-and-mortar retailers. On the other hand, be sure to read the fine print. These are still new companies and some have encountered problems with titles and payments.

Used BMWs at a dealer
Dealers really do look for quality used cars, but since they have access to many different sources and receive trade-ins every day, they don’t necessarily have to pay you the top dollar. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sell ​​to a dealer: Typically, traders underestimate their valuation. Many are paying more for in-demand models or, during the recent rise in fuel prices, for vehicles with excellent fuel economy, but in general they are paying as little as possible.

If you decide to go this route, it can be beneficial to get reviews from multiple retailers. Remember 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 a higher rating with a dealer or walk away if they’re not in your stadium.

Sell ​​it yourself: This option usually generates the best returns. By selling yourself you cut off the middleman, but you also have to do all the middleman work. Make sure your vehicle looks its best!

Datsun 210 wagon
Dealers are also generally not interested in vehicles that are older than a certain age. But there are actually plenty of people who will spend money on this 1981 Datsun 210 wagon. Facebook is the best place for such a car as there are many enthusiast groups that share such deals but old car auction sites also work. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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

advertise. Neighbors and friends can be good places to let people know your car, truck, or SUV is for sale, but you should also cast a wider net. Craigslist isn’t as busy as it used to be, 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 valuable or classic car, consider sites like Bring a Trailer, Hemmings, and Cars & Bids. You may be surprised at what some 1990s cars are worth today.

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

In some cases, these websites also partner with local merchants to offer you a cash offer. Simply enter your car’s details and schedule an inspection with a local dealer. After the value of your car has been determined, you will receive a check. If you decide to sell it yourself, enter the vehicle details and upload your photos.

eBay. They’ve been selling cars for over 25 years, eBay’s listing fees are low and you can list your vehicle for sale in either auction format (reserved or unreserved) or at a fixed price. You can also set up sales locally or nationwide. I live in Maryland and once bought a car online and had it shipped from San Diego, California for $1,800 insured shipping with lock. The vehicle arrived in perfect condition in seven days.

Photos of the bad car list
Once you’ve cleaned your car and decide to list it, putting up horrible photos will undermine your hard work. If buyers can’t see the vehicle or the listing looks terrible, you’re less likely to attract buyers. craigslist
Good photos of the car list
Give your audience the highest quality image of your vehicle possible. You don’t have to hire a professional photographer, but lots of clear, meaningful images will attract more potential buyers. Alex Kwanten

Get creative with your entry

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

  • 2015 Lexus LX570. Good condition, 95,000 km. $44,000.
  • 2015 Lexus LX570, well maintained by the first owner with all service records. Clean body with no dents or paint damage. Interior like new! Great stereo with Bluetooth! New tyres! Garage maintained and always baby. Only 95,000km. Check out the 12 attached photos and contact me (by email or phone) with any questions. Don’t miss out on this Lexus gem! $44,000. Come and ride it!

I’m sure we can agree that the second description is better. Be sure to include clear photos of all exterior angles, under the hood shots to show how clean you did it, trunk or hatchback shots and photos of all rows of your like new interior. Terrible photos or ones that cut out most of the car will surely put off potential buyers. Great photos will call them.

For general safety reasons, it’s probably wise to meet a potential buyer at your local police station or another well-lit, safe place like a grocery store or mall. Take a friend with you when you meet a potential buyer.

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