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Quick Guide to Selling Your Car

By: StaffPublished September 24, 2021

Evaluating Your Vehicle Before You Sell

Before you start the process of selling your car, you’ll need to carefully evaluate it. Is it a popular car and in good condition? Then selling it and getting a great price may be easier than you suspect. But if it is an older car, or has its share of defects, offering it as a dealer trade-in may ultimately be your best option.

How to Determine Your Asking Price

Take the time to research the market value of your car. Sites like Kelley Blue Book and NadaGuides.com offer tools that will help you establish a starting point for price negotiations. Kelly Blue Book also offers information on the trade-in value which can help you establish whether you want to sell your car privately or trade it in. While Kelly Blue Book is a great starting point, you should also be prepared to do a little independent research. Check used car pricing on internet sites like Craigslist. Search for vehicles that are the same year, make and model with similar miles to your vehicle. You may even want to visit a local dealership. Once you have an idea of the price range, you'll need to consider a couple more factors:

  • Mileage – Average mileage is 15,000 per year.
  • Condition
  • Optional features – Leather, Navigation, Sunroof will increase the vehicle’s value.
  • Improvements – Some aftermarket items such as stereos and premium wheels may increase vehicle value, but be aware you may not recoup your full investment on those additions.

Remember, it is always smart to price your vehicle a few hundred dollars higher than you expect to receive. But use caution. If you set the price too high, you could end up alienating potential buyers.

Trading-In vs. Selling Privately

Invariably, you will be faced with the decision of whether you want to sell your car privately or trade it into the dealer. While both have advantages, there are a few points you should consider:

Selling Your Car Privately

If you decide to sell your car privately, you will more than likely receive a better price. However, keep in mind that this higher price is sometimes offset by incurring selling expenses and risks such as:

  • Placing Classified Ads
  • Cleaning and Detailing
  • Conducting Minor Repairs
  • Supplying Documentation, like a Vehicle History Report
  • Potential for Buyer Fraud
Trading Your Car In

While you may not receive top dollar if you decide to opt for a trade-in, there are a number of advantages:

  • Guaranteed Sell: Selling a car privately can take months. But you can take your car to the dealer and get rid of it in as little as one afternoon.
  • Hassle Free: You do not have to deal with the added cost and hassle of cleaning your car and listing it in a classified section.
  • As Is: Besides taking your car to the car wash, emptying the trash and running the vacuum, you can pretty much give your car to the dealer “As Is”.
  • Tax Credit: Many states allow you to deduct the value of your vehicle from the retail price of your new car, which in turn lowers the sales tax on the purchase.

Other things to consider include the type of vehicle. If the car is vintage or a “collector’s car,” then selling privately is often the best route. A site like eBay Motors [http://www.motors.ebay.com] is a good resource for selling vintage or collectible automobiles. If your car is new or in high demand, the difference between selling and trading-in could be minimal.

Getting It Ready to Sell

If you do decide to sell your car privately, be prepared to spend some time cleaning your car, investing in repairs, and gathering paperwork:

  • Cleaning: At the very least you will want to clean your car thoroughly: washing the exterior, removing any clutter, vacuuming and cleaning the interior.
  • Detailing: You will want to wax the exterior and have the carpets and upholstery cleaned. Depending on the asking price, you may want to invest in a professional cleaning service, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $250.
  • Minor Repairs: Change the oil, replace burnt fuses and bulbs, change the wiper blades and inflate the tires.
  • Major Repairs: Use your judgment when it comes to fixing things like bad brakes, faulty transmission, or worn tires. While fixing these items may make the car more appealing, it can cause you to raise the asking price and drive potential buyers away.
  • Paperwork: Title, Loan Documents, Repair Receipts, etc.

Other Things to Consider

Detailed records and documentation can build a relationship and establish trust with potential buyers. Consider offering the following:

  • Vehicle History Report: These can be found through sites like CarFax and Autocheck.
  • Maintenance Records: Offer itemized copies of all maintenance and service receipts.
  • Third Party Inspection: An independent mechanic will inspect the vehicle for around $100.

In the end, the trick to selling your car quickly and for a good price requires researching its value and prepping it for sale. With a little time, research and prep work, you can get the best deal.

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