Once upon a time before the internet took over our lives, it was quite difficult to list your used car for sale, but it was also far easier to camouflage accidents and poor paint jobs. Millions of used cars will be sold just in America alone this year, and it is how you present your automobile that would get you the most money.
Unlike other bloggers that write about this topic from reading car magazines, I have participated in thousands of car deals at both the dealership and private level. The used car selling tips I am about to give you will put more money in your pocket if done the right way.
Why You Should Never Sell Your Car to the Dealer
Before we get into the buying steps of getting rid of your used car, you should never consider selling your automobile to a dealer for obvious reasons. Car dealers are in the business to buy low and sell high, and you can bet what the dealer will be able to give you for your fine car will be wholesale prices.
The worst thing you can do is to walk into a dealership and let them know ahead of time that you have a used car to use as a trade in for another vehicle.
Some of my best “home run car deals” (a reference to car deals with thousands of dollars in profit) were with customers with cars to trade-in. It can become a more lucrative deal for the dealership if the car to be traded in is fully paid for, or very little is owed on it.
There are two ways the dealership can make a deal with you when you try to trade in your used car.
The first one is to just tell you what the balance of your payment will be by subtracting the trade-in value from the price of the new car. This is usually the method use to show you how you’re getting a higher price for your used car.
Most humans are so focused on what they’re getting that they might not be aware of what they’re losing in the deal.
A less lucrative way is to tell you what you’ll get for the used car minus the cost of the new car. Regardless of the way it is presented to you, you’re bound to lose money selling your car to the dealership, despite your shrewd and fine educational background.
When I used to sell both new and used cars for a living, it was my job to master the act of telling customers what they needed to hear while preserving the most profits for my employer. I have also learned that every used car comes with minor or major issues.
The buying public will lie about accidents with a straight face, while the sales person will lie with the same fortitude about the best price he or she can give you for that car you’re trying to trade-in.
As you can see, honesty goes out of the window once it comes to selling cars to dealers. On the other hand, the dealership is equipped with the right knowledge and equipment to discover the truth about the true condition of any used car, regardless of the impeccable car wash and wax job.
As a tactic, we put every potential car to be traded in on the lift. Our roads are filled with potholes and some people are just not careful while trying to get home fast. When you look underneath a used car, it becomes easier to spot the flaws or potential issues that will soon become the problem of the buyer.
Dealers have personnel that can spot a new paint job on a car even if it is done by the best body shop in town. So, in a nutshell, you do not stand a chance of getting the most money for your car if you trade it to the dealership.
Two Types of Used Cars
A used car for sale will fall into two distinctive categories, one that is fully paid for, and the other with money still owed to the car finance company. I did not include a leased car because technically, you do not own the car unless you get prior permission from the financing company to sell it.
If you still owe money on your car you should call the finance company or bank and get the payoff figure. The payoff figure is simply the amount you’ll have to send to the bank to fully pay off your car. It will come with a date range, which means if you send it in within the dated period your auto loan will be paid in full.
Keep in mind that what you have outstanding on your car loan is far different from what your payoff figure will be. If you have a year or two left on your car loan, the financing company will deduct some of the interest since the loan is been settled ahead of time.
Whenever you deal with a bank try to get what was said in writing. I have learned the hard way that banks are just as bad as car salespeople, they’re trained to lie on a regular basis.
Some of you probably have jobs that involve lying to the customer on a regular basis, or like my boss used to say, we just don’t tell them everything.
If your car is fully paid for the money you get is all yours. On the other hand, if you still owe money to the bank, some of the money you collect from the buyer will be going to the bank. Also, take a closer look at your car title and see what it says.
If you own the car free and clear, the title should not contain any lienholder information. For those that owe money to the financing company, a lien will be listed on the title, which means it has to be paid off before you can legally transfer the title.
Never sell your car with money still owed on it to anyone promising to make the payments on your behalf. If they fail to pay or make the payments on time, the derogatory credit history will be under your name.
The only person I will suggest privately transferring car payment obligations will be to your kids, but be ready to make the required payments if they hit hard financial times.
If your loan is paid off and the bank is still listed on your title as a lien holder, it is your obligation to take the letter the bank sent you when the loan was fully paid and take it to your local motor vehicle office for a new title with no lien holder listed on it.
Get your car loan payoff figure and find out how long it is good for. It is better to have all this information at hand before listing your used automobile for sale on the internet.
Preparing Your Used Car for Sale
When I used to sell cars for a living, I automatically assumed the customer was lying when asked about the true condition of their used car. I am not your moral teacher or coach, but be mindful that what goes around will always come around to you.
So, in all honesty, I urge you to be fair when dealing with your fellow humans. Yes, telling the truth about the condition of your car might fetch you a lower price, but your conscience will be clear, and life will reward you in more ways than one.
Only you know if you’ve properly maintained your automobile. If you kept a detailed record of every repairs or maintenance done to the car, it will impress the potential buyer. Here are the steps you should take to get the most money for that vehicle you want to get rid of.
How much is Your Car Worth?
With the internet growing every day at a rapid pace, it is quite easier to determine the value of your used car, but I will give you true and tested methods to bring you a more realistic figure.
Check online for the same type of car for sale by dealerships in your local area. In fact, I urge you to visit one or two dealers and look at the listed car for sale that is just like yours, and the same year and model.
Next, check online at some of the popular used car selling portals and search if they have a similar car for sale. Hopefully, you’re writing down the figures from your research.
The last place to check for prices is through online sites that allow for people to place car sale ads. While Craigslist is wildly popular for selling used cars fast, there are others you can find if you just Google it.
You have to take emotions out of pricing your used car, especially once you’ve decided to let it go for a fair price. Do not price it as high as the dealer, but do not be the lowest priced on any online used car listing portal.
Also, do keep in mind that we Americans love a good deal, so let you listed priced include haggling room. It is only a fool that would list a used car for sale at the desired priced, simply means, if you want $5,000 for your used vehicle, list it for $6,500. The $1,500 will be your room for negotiation with the prospective buyer.
Getting Your Car Ready for Sale
The biggest mistake people make is to believe other humans will see the value in the car rather than do everything possible to let the value shine through loud and clear.
If you’ve been lazy about the upkeep of your car, get it to a local mechanic shop and let them check out the brakes, do a tune up, and change the oil. Depending on the make and model it might be worth it to change tires that are worn out.
Let me tell you why doing the above basic maintenance steps will get you a higher value.
Change the Engine and Transmission Oil
The average consumer looking to buy your used car will at least look at your engine oil and if it does not too black, most will assume you’ve kept up with the maintenance of the vehicle. Based on the year of your car, a transmission oil change might also be essential if you want a great price for your used car.
Why you should consider a Major Tune-up
A complete car tune up will make your car run right, if done properly. Contrary to what some might think, a major car tune-up involves more than just changing car spark plugs.
Fix You Car’s Braking System
Your brakes can make or break a used car deal, anytime. Just as yourself, how would you trust someone trying to sell you a car will a lousy braking system?
Get your car’s braking system tightened and oiled to function the right way. Even if your used car buyer brings a mechanic, your braking system will pass the test with flying colors.
Take a close look at your tires. Worn tires say a lot about your vehicle’s condition and your driving habits. A cheaper way to make your tires look good is to spray them with shining liquids, but those will not last.
There are solutions that will make the tire threads not look worn. Remember what I told you about dealing fairly and honestly with your fellow humans? If the tire look worn out, get better-looking ones because the potential buyer will notice the defects in due time.
Get Your Car Thoroughly Detailed
I once asked a girl what took her so long to get ready for our date night, and she said, I wanted to look good for you. She did look amazing when she emerged! The same analogy should be applied to your vehicle.
Nowadays, people are visual, for they believe what they can see. You need that car of yours thoroughly detailed both inside and out. The type of car detailing you need will be based on your habits. I have seen inside of cars that will make you vomit if you’re crazy enough to accept a ride in it.
Detailing involves moving the seats back and getting rid of all the hidden food particles, including any ketchup stains. A regular car wash will not do the trick unless the inside of your car is in immaculate condition.
A good trick we used during my car selling days is to buff the exterior of the car with a good wax solution. The environmental elements contribute mightily to the faster aging of most cars. Buffing will bring out that unique shine that might make you just decide to keep the car rather than sell it.
Take Dozens of Pictures
If you want your phone to ring off the hook, get the unique description and images to include with your listing. While some people will read the words, it is the pictures that will move most of the potential buyers to get in touch with your quickly.
Use descriptive words to make people want to come and see the car. Do not say too much, but do not say too little either. Let me give you a sample used car listing words, but please change a few words to make it personal to you.
Sample Used Car AD:
“It is time to let my 2012 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD go to just a lucky buyer. This is a one owner SUV and a ride in it will make you want to treat it the right way. It has always treated me nice by starting right away and burns gas at a reasonable modest pace.
Most of the miles were acquired from highway driving, not that it matters, for this fine automobile can handle the city streets with ease. Over the years, I have followed the required maintenance schedule with military precision.
The oil change is done at the right time, and I have allowed it to be fully tune-up several times since buying it brand new. The tires are like brand new, while the braking system will bring you to a complete stop immediately, with no hesitation.
The words and the pictures you’re looking at will not properly convey the quality of this well maintained SUV called Nissan Pathfinder. It is the top of the line model, and you’ll find the latest equipment inside, including a navigation system that can be easily updated.
I installed two DVD players with digital screens for the enjoyment of the back seat passengers, which will be left behind for the new owner. The sound system is as good as know it, with loudspeakers that would probably wake your neighbors up.
This is the ultimate ride, and it is worth your time to at least take a look at it. Please bring your mechanic or used car expert, for this SUV is ready and priced to go! Make the phone call now, or email to make an appointment.”
It is only priced at $15,799 and based on your promise to care for her properly, it is negotiable!
Call 888-888-8888 – This is the ride that will last you for many good years, do not hesitate, call or email me now: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-888-8888.
I have used a fake phone number and email to make the point that the way you describe your used car will make all the difference in the world in the type of customers you attract. What you need are buying customers with money knocking down your doors to try to make a deal.
Safety Tips for Selling your Used Car
Depending on where your used car ad is listed, it will attract all kinds of people to your doorstep trying to look at it. You never know who is a creep nowadays, so exercise caution in how you judge and analyze potential buyers.
Be wary about just giving a test drive to anyone that shows up claiming they want the car. Talk to the person for a few minutes to get how they would be paying for the purchase.
Always asked to see a valid driver’s license from the purchaser before allowing him or her to take the wheels of your automobile. I will urge you to take a closer look at the license to make sure it is the same person as the one standing in front of you.
It might be wise on your part to take a photocopy of the presented driver’s license. My preference would be to arrive at a deal and then give a test drive, but you’re free to use your common sense.
If the customer is prepared to give you cash on the spot and your bank is closed, exercise caution during the deal making. Unless you’re used to handling large sums of money, going through large bills to make sure they are not counterfeit might pose a problem.
A better way is to take the buyer to your local bank and deposit the funds in there right away. The bank will be able to tell you if the money is all good. If on the other hand, you want “uncle Sam” out of your private business, accepting cash is all cool, provided you know how to spot fake notes.
I am not a fan of accepting any type of bank cheque as a form of payment. I have seen my fair share of fraudulent activities to err on the side of caution. When selling your used car, in my opinion, cash is always king.
This article about getting the most money for your used car was written to benefit the seller, but in the future, I might write about the pitfalls a used car buyer should be on the lookout for.