Tips to Help You Survive The Used Car Selling Process
Yes it is true; selling your car yourself will get you the most money in your pocket. But, realize that it can take several weeks or months to sell a car. So don't be discouraged if you don't get any inquiries right away.
Don't worry about putting any repair work into the vehicle. You will never recoup the money. Just be honest about what it needs to the next owner. Most people who are purchasing a used vehicle expect to spend money on repairs or maintenance service.
Do worry about cleaning your car inside and out! This can make a HUGE difference in getting your car sold. Clean out your "stuff" from the door pockets, glove box, ashtray, cubbyholes, and under the seats. Don't want to clean it yourself? Take it to a professional car detailer and pay approx. $100 - $150.
How much to sell your car for: The value of your car is based on its age, mileage, and condition. To find out what you may get for it, go online to www.kbb.com or www.nadaguides.com. You can get an estimate of what your car is worth. Then gauge this amount against the going rates from want-ads in the newspapers. In reality, your car is only worth what someone is willing to pay.
When writing an ad for your car, use emotion words like: luxurious, sporty, safe, reliable, etc. Accentuate all the positives. For example, "one owner, nonsmoker, never had a dog in it, highway miles only, all service up-to-date with records to prove it, tires almost new, kept in garage," etc.
Consider listing your car online. You could list it on cars.com, eBay.com, or autotrader.com. My new favorite online advertising is craigslist.com. Approximately 70% of all car buyers start their search on the internet.
Here are a couple of guerilla marketing ideas for you:
- Make posters to hang around town to sell your car. List the features, add a picture and have tear-off phone numbers on the bottom. Hang on bulletin boards at grocery stores, health clubs, schools, laundromats, etc.
- If there is a radio call-in "swap and sell" show in your area, put your car on the show.
- Ask everyone you come in contact with if they know anyone looking to buy a great used car. Offer a "bird dog fee" ($50) if they send you a qualified buyer who completes the deal.
- Park your car on a busy street with detailed information in the window. Ask around to find out the local "hot spot" where sellers park their vehicles on the weekends.
When people start calling about your car:
- Be honest about describing your vehicle, and but don't dicker on the phone. The buyer needs to come and see what you are talking about before the selling begins.
- Make sure the cost of your vehicle is within their budget. If they can't afford it, then don't waste your time setting up a time for a test drive.
- Women would be well advised to have someone along whenever they show a vehicle for safety reasons. (I am sorry that this still holds true).
- When scheduling a test drive, treat this as a job and give them two different choices: "I can show you the car 4:30 pm on Friday or 10:00 am on Saturday; which time is better for you?" Take notes and get a phone number to call back in case something comes up. This can help you call back the person you liked the most with a lower price if you get desperate.
- If they drive up like a wild cat in an abused vehicle, there is no law that says you have to let them drive your car. Any excuse is better than regretting later that you didn't listen to that inner voice!
- Write down their driver's license number and name before the test drive to make sure it's current.
- Go on the test drive with the potential buyer. You don't know who they are... and you don't want anything to happen that you're not aware of.
If they want to take your car to their mechanic for an inspection, have them leave a refundable deposit before they take the vehicle away. If you're not comfortable with them taking your car, get the name, address of their shop and schedule a time to take it in yourself. Give the buyer a dated receipt for any deposit given.
If they tell you they want to purchase your vehicle, set a time limit for picking up the vehicle. If they don't call or come by the deadline you have every right to sell it to the second person in line.
Don't release the vehicle, the title or the keys until the car has been paid for. A bank check is the most secure way to get paid. The money is guaranteed by the bank and you can release the vehicle that day.
Once you have the money in hand, sign over the title to the new owner. Give them a bill of sale and anything else that goes with the car. Take off the license plates before they take away the vehicle. It's a good idea to make sure the new owner has registered and insured the vehicle before it's driven away. Don't forget to notify your insurance company to remove the car from your policy.
Author of "How To Buy A Great Used Car" available online at www.amysgarage.com
Encouraged to "spread the word," Amy writes a monthly newsletter, and has written both newspaper and magazine columns on automotive repairs, maintenance, car care and safety. After selling used cars for 6 years, she has also written an easy to use manual, "How To Buy A Great Used Car," available at www.usedcarexperts.com. She believes that everyone deserves to purchase a quality car no matter what their budget is. They just need to do their "homework!"