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Tips For Selling Your Vehicle

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On: Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 9:05AM | By: Nick Bakewell

Tips For Selling Your Vehicle

With the exception of classics, very few people ever buy a car with the intention of keeping it forever. Car ownership is, as a whole, a series of temporary stewardships. We buy, we own, and then after a few years, we sell. If we've worked hard and been successful, then maybe we'll trade up a bit. It's why no one buys cars with highlighter yellow exteriors and fuschia interiors; who's going to buy that five or six years down the line?

I recently had an experience of attempting to sell a car, and, as with many new experiences, it was both a bit nerve-wracking and a good opportunity for learning.

So , here are the key steps to take when planning to put your vehicle on the market privately.

First, get an honest assessment of what your car is worth: check the Kelly blue book prices, and compare prices for similar vehicles on craigslist, eBay motors, and this site, Autoshopper.com. Take into account the base price for a pristine model, and make an honest and unsympathetic assessment of the condition of your vehicle. Take into account any cosmetic damage, as well as mechanical/electrical issues. Make a list, and, if there are any major problems, be sure to describe them in your ad. If you try to obfuscate any issues your vehicle might have, when the buyer eventually figures out what's wrong, you'll lose credibility and possibly the sale. Once you've listed all the problems, decide which category the car falls into (fair, like new, etc.) and adjust the base value accordingly. If there's a major mechanical issue, be prepared to drop the price pretty significantly.

The next step, before advertising the vehicle anywhere, is to make sure you have all your particulars in order. Make sure you have the title for the vehicle, a service history, and get the paperwork from your state's department of transportation that allows you to formally transfer ownership of the vehicle to another person. That last one is very important, as in some states any damage caused to/by the vehicle is still technically under your name until you transfer ownership. You also need to do the same with your insurance company as soon as you sell the vehicle.

After that, it's time to get your car ready for prime time. Take it in for a service inspection, make sure all the tires are in good shape, the inspection and registration are current. Then get it cleaned, inside and out, so that it's as near to flawless as you can get. Grab your camera or your phone and snap pictures: straight on, front ¾, rear ¾, rear, and profile. Then get pictures of the interior, mainly the driver’s area, the dashboard, front and rear seats. You may also want to grab a shot of the engine bay. All told, you should wind up with about 8-10 photos.

Once you have your shots, write out a brief list of all the car’s features, everything from extravagant toys (satellite navigation) to the most basic (electric windows, AC, etc.). Along with the other details you’ve accumulated, such as mechanical or electrical issues, the color, number of miles on the odometer, and the conditions the car was kept in, put this all together in the most concise form you can manage; use abbreviations or acronyms wherever possible. You’re now ready to list the car.

Craigslist is the best place for a free listing, followed by a relatively small outlay for a listing on Ebay Motors. If you want to go a step further, you can call publications such as the local paper, or make a listing on any number of websites, such as this one. Make sure you provide at least a few avenues for people to get in touch with you, usually email and phone number, and include the best times to get hold of you. You can also buy a “For Sale” sign from Office Depot or similar stores and place it in your window, if your vehicle is parked in a place where its easily visible to passers-by.

If you get a bite, make sure you have all your information in hand to cover any questions that potential buyers might have. Look around your neighborhood and map out a basic route on which to take people for test drives; try to include a variety of conditions, such as urban or suburban streets and a highway. When it comes to the price, decide on what you want for the vehicle, then list it for between 10 and 20% more than that, in anticipation of a small amount of haggling. Make sure you ask for money orders, cashiers checks, or cash. Do not under any circumstances take a personal check.

So, in summary: make sure you have all the information about your vehicle available to potential buyers, be honest about any issues the car might have, and be prepared to haggle a bit. Selling your car can be a nerve-wracking and complex process, but as long as you’re prepared, it doesn’t have to be.


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