One of the indisputable facts of buying a car is that whatever a dealer offers you for your trade-in will be considerably less than you'd get if you sold it yourself. As a trade-in, the dealer has to purchase the car from you at a price that would enable the reselling of the car at a profit. This means, the best a dealer can offer you is the wholesale value of your trade-in.
However, if you sell the car yourself, you'll get closer to the retail price for the car, netting you considerably more cash. Of course, to get more cash, you'll have to take on more responsibility and do more work as well. But it isn't the insurmountable task most people imagine it to be. Following these tips, you'll sell your car safely and at the best price you can possibly get for it.
Perception is reality in the marketplace; therefore your first step is to do everything you can to make your car as attractive as possible to a potential buyer. If you've read our Used Car Red Flags series of articles then you know the more you do to make your vehicle look well cared for, the better shot you have at selling it. So before you do anything else, detail the car, or take it to a detailer for a very thorough cleaning. In a buyer's mind, a dirty car is a poorly maintained car, so this step is very important to maximizing the price you get. Don't just stop with the exterior: clean the interior, the trunk, all the storage areas, under the seats, and have the engine steam cleaned as well.
How does your windshield look, it is pitted, does it have scratches? How about the bodywork? Dents and scratches will count against you; mobile dent repair outfits can typically take care of minor dings in very little time, often for less than $200. Make sure the tires are properly balanced so the car rolls smoothly when it's test-driven. The tires should have good tread left on them too. Additionally, you'll want to have the car inspected by a trusted professional mechanic familiar with the car'”ideally the one that's been servicing the car for you'”so you don't get any surprises when a potential buyer has the car inspected.
If you bought the car used and neglected to do so, you should run a vehicle history report before offering the car to avoid any surprises that might pop up when your customer (who has read and is following our buyer's advice) orders one. The last thing you want to have to deal with in the middle of a price negotiation is a VHR that pops up out of nowhere'”showing you're actually the fourth owner of the car and it has a salvage title.
When it comes to setting a price for your car, you want to price it attractively while keeping in mind anybody interested in buying it is probably going to expect to haggle over it a bit. That said, you have to price the car reasonably enough to make the phone ring, while leaving yourself enough room to come down on the price, while still getting what you need out of the car. Our car valuation partner, Kelley Blue Book, offers pricing based on the car's condition, geographic location and mileage. These, of course, are guidelines. The price you ultimately decide to set is totally up to you. However, the more reasonable you are in your pricing, the better the likelihood you will achieve a quick sell.
Next, we'll cover where and how to advertise, how to conduct a test drive, how to haggle, and the forms you'll need to file with the DMV to transfer ownership.