Unless you’re a car salesman, selling your own car can be a big hassle. Let’s face it, you’ll have to step into sales, and most of us like that about as much as we like a trip to the dentist. But if you want to get the most money for your car, you should at least attempt to sell it yourself. And keep one thing in mind, your buyer isn’t doing you a favor by taking the car off your hands. By selling a used car, you are offering a great value to somebody. When they buy your used car, they are saving a fortune. This is especially true if your car isn’t too old. Keep that in mind and keep your power. Booyah.
Trade-ins are easier, but you won’t get top dollar.
It’s probably true that most people will trade in their old cars when they need to buy a new one. Arranging a trade-in is just about the easiest way to get rid of your old car and get some sort of consideration for it.
But trading in a car will get you far less than top dollar. When you trade-in your old car you are relying on the same dealer who is selling you the new car to give you a fair price for the old one. Never forget the car dealers job is to sell you a new car for the highest price possible, while giving you the lowest price possible on your old one. It’s simply not in his best interests to give top dollar for your old car.
Using a trade-in to dispose of your old car should be a last resort, something you do only if you are unable to sell your car through your own efforts.
Get a fair estimate of the value of your car
One of the factors that scares people when it comes to selling their own car is arriving at a fair price. This concern is well placed – price it too high and it won’t sell, price it too low and you could conceivably end up getting less money than the car is even worth. Most people would prefer to avoid that kind of disaster.
There are ways that you can establish reasonable value on your car that won’t take a lot of effort on your part or even cost you any money.
You could have a friend in the car business do an appraisal on your car to determine what it’s worth. Or you could go to an online source, such as Edmunds.com*, if you don’t know anybody who can give your reliable estimate of value.
If you do use an online source for the value the car, be as honest as possible when providing information on the vehicle. What you want to do is come up with the closest you can come to the true value of the car. Online sources will usually give you a retail value – what you are likely to be able to sell the car for yourself – and a wholesale value, which is roughly the price the dealer will give you on a trade-in.
The retail value will let you know about what you should sell your car for, while the wholesale value will give you a solid idea as to what you can expect in a trade-in. Be sure to print off the findings of your estimate – you may need it at negotiation time.
Clean it up and tune it up
One of the things you need to do when selling a car is to look at it is if you were buying it. There may be issues with the car that you have long since grown used to that will turn off a seller. Identify those and do your best to remedy them. If you don’t feel that you can be objective, get a friend to inspect the car carefully to find flaws you might miss.
If the car’s running rough or making any kind of unusual sounds, bring it into the shop and get it tuned up. Give the car a good wash and wax, and thoroughly clean and vacuum the interior. Be sure to keep the car clean and well running throughout the sales period. A good-looking, well-maintained car to bring in hundreds of dollars extra. While you are at the shop, find out if the new buyer can purchase an extended warranty for the car. If so, that will be a great selling point for you. It takes a great deal of the risk out of the transaction for the buyer.
Put on your car salesman’s hat
Have you ever see car commercials on TV and noticed how obnoxious they are? There’s a reason for that – they’re trying to get our attention. When you’re selling your car yourself you’ll need to do something similar. So in a way, you do have to become a salesperson. No, you don’t need to be obnoxious – after all, you’re not selling a fleet of cars, but just one. The take away however is that you need to get people’s attention. That will take some sales and marketing.
Try some or all of the following:
- List the car for sale in your local newspaper and on Craigslist. Be descriptive and use lots of good-looking photos.
- Put ads in neighborhood- or apartment complex-newsletters; people do read these and that increases the chance of a local sale.
- Place clearly written “for sale signs” in your car. The phone number should be easily visible from 100 feet away.
- Contact everyone you know using Facebook, email or phone calls, letting them know that you’re selling your car. Ask them who they know who might be interested.
- Place ads on the bulletin board at your place of employment, house of worship, local grocery stores and Laundromats.
When it comes to selling your car – or anything else – the name of the game is exposure. You don’t need to yell like the car dealers are doing on TV, but you do have to let as many people as possible know that you’re selling your car. The more people who do know, the more potential buyers will come your way. And the more potential buyers you have, the better the price you’re likely get for your car.
Have you ever tried to sell your car yourself, or do you simply trade it in or give it to charity?
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Carnival of Personal Finance