Sell a Used Car

used car for sale

If you need to sell a used car, the Internet could be your best friend. In the past, Individuals watched while prospects "kicked the tires" after answering an ad in the newspaper, but today's seller can reach a wider demographic of potential buyers with the click of a mouse. However, while things have changed, there are still some tried and true ways of selling used cars quickly.

Know the Car's Market Value

Determine where to list your ad and what the car's resale value is. Check Edmunds.com Used Vehicle Locator, and Kelley Blue Book for information on what your car is worth, and be realistic in your assessment.

While Betsy may be a gem to you, a used car buyer may not agree. If you can't be objective, enlist someone do this for you. Set a price adjusted for mileage, mechanical and cosmetic condition, options, and location. Slap a pre-printed plastic "For Sale" sign in the car window, and make sure the contact numbers are large enough to be read from a distance.

Have you ever wondered why advertisements always list deals at $19.95? It works. People expect deals for seemingly lower-priced items so when you price your car, add some negotiating wiggle room. Savvy buyers want to haggle so let them, but factor in enough cushion to get the price you want because you can come down but cannot negotiate up.

Give Your Car a Makeover

Detail and wax the exterior, including wheels and tires. Clean the brake dust off front wheels, and coat the tires with a product like Armor All or paint on a coating of used motor oil, which will do the same thing. Vacuum, clean and polish the interior using a quality product that restores the luster to vinyl. Repair tiny cracks with tubes of colored vinyl repair gels. Keep in mind that seat covers are dead giveaways that something is amiss with the upholstery.

Clean the windows and make the mirrors streak-free. Empty the ashtrays and wash them in hot water. Spray some Ozium inside the car if it stinks of cigarette smoke, or New Car Smell after you've cleaned. Have your maintenance records handy and placed in a folder for easy reference. Spend some extra bucks and have your mechanic inspect the car to see what repairs it might need because those affect your negotiations. Selling with an awareness of what your car needs convinces a buyer that you're on the level.

Show With Style

Folks evaluate you as much as your car, so dress to impress in clean, pressed clothes and shined shoes. Use polite, not profane language, and take them for a test spin. Make buyers feel comfortable, answer their questions openly and honestly, and you are halfway there. Arrange for a check with their mechanic if they choose, and offer full disclosure about why you are selling and what the car's history includes.

Advertise the Used Car

Place ads in weekly print shoppers, which are fairly low cost, or in your daily newspaper, which isn't. Online ads will probably get a faster response because they reach more people quicker. Be sure to include contact information like the cell and home phone number or an e-mail address. Put "For Sale" signs on bulletin boards and tell friends or co-workers because word of mouth referrals are the best prospects.

Use Creative Advertising

Be creative and engaging rather than boring. "Driven by a little old lady" ads are passé. Try reworking this to something like "This car would be perfect for a little old lady, but I told Mom I'm selling" to be more original. The terms OBO (or best offer) or "asking price" indicate a willingness to negotiate. "Firm" means you're set on a price and less willing to haggle. When you write the ad, think about the information you would look for because words can be your asset or downfall. Pay attention to spelling and details to project a professional image. Include features and selling points like these:

  • Model
  • Engine size
  • Modifications
  • Original owner
  • CD stereo
  • 4-speed Hurst
  • New carpeting
  • Air conditioning
  • Low mileage

Be Ready to Negotiate

Be prepared for potential questions so you won't be caught off guard. Remain cool and polite at all times. Strive for a win-win situation, and allow the buyer some room to dicker. However, if the offer doesn't meet your needs, you can always sell it another day.

Complete the Sale

Know your state's laws and required paperwork for selling a vehicle . Once you have the cash or a cashier's check in hand (never agree to a personal check), sign the title over and provide a receipt or bill of sale, title certificate, and an odometer statement showing the car's mileage. Be aware that some states require a smog certificate. Call your department of motor vehicles for more details about who is responsible for these costs, and notify them of the sale. Cancel your insurance policy.

List Your Car Online

Try these sources to advertise your car online and reach a wide audience:

  • UnoCarDealers is a website that allows you to list your used car free of charge. This nationwide site allows buyers to search using a number of factors, including location, price and car type.
  • Cars is an online clearinghouse for everything automotive. You can sell your car here, as well as get information about it through the site's "research and reviews" section.
  • Auto Trader lets you list your vehicle for sale online. You also have the option to find dealers looking for a trade-in. This is an ideal option for the person who wants to get a new car quickly.
  • AOL Autos is a section of the AOL website designed for selling used cars. You can post a classified ad of your for-sale car at no cost.
  • Craigslist is a website with local affiliates in just about every city of any size. You can list your car here for the local area, but you will likely not get much traffic from places that aren't near you.
  • Sell My Car is a site whose name says it all. It's another website offering free classifieds for people trying to privately sell their cars.

The best way to ensure that you get a lot of buyer interest in your car is to use multiple sites. The more sites that you use, the more people will see your car and the better chance you have of selling it at a price you can live with.

Be Open to All Offers

If you know what your car is worth and package it correctly, you can sell a used car just as quickly and easily as the most accomplished car salesperson. Entertain all offers and treat potential buyers the way you would want to be treated. Be honest and fair; give a little if necessary to make the deal work. After all, it's better to deduct a few dollars off the sale price to close a deal than to be stuck with a vehicle for which you have no use.

Sell a Used Car