How to sell a car
Sooner or later we start thinking about selling our car. Maybe it starts having too many problems; maybe you just want to have something new. Where should you start? How much should you sell your car for? What is the value of my car? Where should you advertise? In this article I'll try to answer these and some other common questions, that a person who is selling a car might have.• When should I sell my car?
• What is the value of my car?
• Should I sell it privately or trade it in at a dealer?
• How to get out of a lease early?
• How to prepare your car for sale
• Where to advertise your car
• How to close the deal keeping the price high
• Bill of sale - things you need to know
• A few more tips
When should I sell my car?
Any car or truck will reach a point when it will start 'falling apart' or will require more and more repairs. It's good idea to get rid of your vehicle before it reaches that point while it still has some value in it. How do you know when your car will soon start falling apart? One of the things you can do is to ask your mechanic what to expect from your car (or truck) in the near future; he (she) should be able to tell you what kind of mechanical shape your car is in. You should mention any changes that you notice in the way your car runs. For example, a puff of blue smoke at startup or the transmission not engaging right away on a cold morning, or corrosion starting to appear here and there; these are the kind of early signs that could tell your mechanic about future problems with your car or truck.
Another thing to remember is that it's more difficult to sell a car after a certain mileage is reached (e.g. 100,000 miles). So, if your car has 88,000 miles, don't wait too long.
What is my car value?
This is the first question that comes to mind when it comes to selling a car - how much should I ask? What I can get for my car? To get an idea of the price range you can check Kelly Blue Book or NADA Guides.
NOTE: The real car value may vary slightly from the one found in the sources above. The real car value depends on many factors, such as the car's mechanical condition, the car's installed options, the time of the year, gas prices, the market conditions etc. There is no guarantee that you will be able to sell your car for the suggested price. For example, it's very difficult to sell one of those gas guzzlers when the gas prices are high.
You also can check the Autotrader website to see what other people are asking for the same model cars. It's reasonable to set a slightly higher price if your car is well maintained, if you are the only owner and if you have all the service and maintenance records. A clean history report also can help. The best strategy is to set the asking price a bit higher and if there are no real offers, gradually lower the price.
Should I sell it privately or trade it in to a dealer?
If you intend to buy a new (or a 'new' used) vehicle, the simplest thing to do is to trade in your vehicle. "Trade-in" means you swap your old car with the dealer for the new one and pay the difference in price. The advantage of the trading in is that it's less hassle and in most cases, you pay taxes only on the amount of the difference. The disadvantage is that the dealer will offer you a lot less than what you would be able to get selling it privately. This is the way dealers make profit.
Even if you don't want to buy another car, but want to get rid of your old vehicle fast, selling it to a dealer may save you a lot of time. You can offer your vehicle to different dealers or used car lots and sell it to the one who will offer you the best price.
You can get a higher price selling it privately, especially if you prepare your car and make it more attractive. However you have to be careful, people are different: some of the potential buyers may bother you for weeks asking to have your car inspected here and there, constantly complaining about the price and disparaging your vehicle. Others may give you a deposit right after a quick look at the car and the deal is done. You are lucky if you get the later kind.
NOTE: Some jurisdictions may have laws, that if you fail to disclose vehicle problems that you are aware of to a buyer, you may be found guilty of fraud and be held liable for the cost of all vehicle repairs the new owner incurs. You should check the laws with the department of motor vehicles in the state or province where you live. One of my readers had a similar situation.
How to get out of a lease early?
You may be able to get out of a leasing arrangement early if you can find someone to take over the lease. There are few websites that allow you to advertise your lease for somebody to take over; just google 'take over my lease'. The idea is great: if for some reason you can't honour the lease agreement, you can make arrangements with someone to take it over; perhaps someone who doesn't want a three or four year commitment.
How to sell a car if you still have a loan on it?
To sell a car with a loan on it, you need to include the bank in the arrangements for the sale. The bank holds the title to your car and you cannot legally sell it until the title is cleared. Technically, until it's paid off, your car belongs to the bank that provided the loan. The bank will not clear the title until it receives the balance of monies owing on the car. Call your bank or finance company that has provided the loan, or your dealer and ask them; they will guide you through the process.
How to prepare your car for sale
It takes just few hours to clean the car thoroughly, but it will definitely increase your chances to sell your car successfully.
- Wash your car thoroughly and wax the exterior. Consider repairing minor paint chips and scratches; check this article Car exterior care tips.
- Vacuum and thoroughly clean the interior.
- Clean all the windows.
- Clean the ashtray and all surroundings, and don't smoke in the car for some time to get rid of the tobacco smell - everybody is looking for a 'non-smokers' car.
- Clean up and vacuum the trunk. Read more tips How to clean the interior.
- Check tire pressure and spray your tires with the tire shine.
- Change engine oil and top up all the fluids.
- Prepare the maintenance records; they should show the potential buyer that you have taken good care of your car.
- If you are going to place an ad with a photo, make sure the car on the photo looks good - potential buyers will judge your car by the photo in the ad first.
Where to advertise
First, you may simply put a 'For Sale' sign on your car.
If you are sure your car is in good condition, consider putting the word out to your colleagues that you are selling your car. Someone might be in the market for a car. Here are some additional links to good sites to place an ad:
Sell your car on AutoTrader.com
How to close the deal keeping the price high
Prepare your car for sale. Make sure that it is spotless inside and out. Have all the maintenance records, emission test results (if they are good, of course) and receipts for any new parts such as tires, brakes or a battery handy to show to potential buyer.
When a buyer comes to look at the car, give lots of time for the buyer to inspect the car and don't interrupt or rush them.
If the buyer seem to like it (usually it's quite easy to see), but still seems to be concerned about the price, point out all the options that your car has, such as heated mirrors, folding seats and any other bells and whistles - everything that may add value to your vehicle. Show the buyer the maintenance records to prove that you have taken good care of the car. If you have receipts for new parts like tires or brakes, show them as well. If you have an extra set of tires that you want to give with the car, mention it too.
If the potential buyer is interested, but is still hesitating, pull out the Used car history report, and advise the buyer that you got the report to save them time. Follow the link: Used car history report. Potential buyers will have more confidence that your car is a good purchase.
Finally, mention that you have other people coming to look at your car.
Bill of sale
I receive many questions about the paperwork that is needed to sell a car privately. The requirements vary by jurisdiction, so you should check with your local motor vehicle authorities. Here is the list of Vehicle Registration websites - They have all the answers you may need.
A few more tips
- Keep your bottom price in mind and keep it firm. However, if someone make an offer close to your bottom line, go for it, don't be stuck for a couple hundred dollars difference.
- If your vehicle is a real lemon or has hidden problems and you know this, don't try to sell it as 'very good car', be nice, don't let other people get into troubles. Instead, try to sell it cheaper to the dealers - they will be able to fix it. You will make less money, but have less headaches. I hope this will help you to sell your car. Good Luck!