Selling a car isn’t just as easy as placing a ‘for sale’ sign in the window with a vague description and a phone number. Buyers are more aware, better educated, and willing to wait until they get the car they want—now more than ever before. Whether it’s the first car you’ve ever sold, or your tenth, there are certain things you’ll learn along the way when you finally do end up letting go of your ride. Here are five of the most frequent things we’ve come across when that time does come. And if you have experiences of your own, leave them in the comment section.
Some people are natural born hagglers, but often you just want the process to go as smoothly as possible. You have to become fully committed to selling your car and that often means knowing everything about your car: gas mileage, is the A/C cold, is there anything wrong with the car (however nuanced), how does the engine perform, and what sort of safety features are included, among others.
The more you know about your car, the more leverage you have to stick to your guns when the inevitable time comes as the prospective buyer tries to ask you for a lower price. You must also learn how to convince the buyer, especially during a test drive, of why your vehicle is better than the other cars on the market. Get on your game face, because it’s your time to shine.
As far as knowing everything you can about your car, keeping records that back those claims is also a necessity. Any John Doe can tell you top to bottom about the car, but only a mechanic’s records, vehicle history, and recall status will tell the true details of how the car is mechanically and if it’s a sound driver. Having all these records at your disposal will give the buyer guarantees that your car was looked after properly, which will also up the value of the car.
Even though it’s easy nowadays to keep virtual records on your computer, there’s nothing quite like physical copies of paperwork to be able to show potential buyers. It shows your commitment to keeping the car in tip-top shape and your words true.
As much as you would like to get the exact amount for the car you’re after, you’re most certainly going to get some pushback because everyone likes to nitpick when it comes to giving away money. Unless the car is brand new, you can argue about price until you’re blue in the face, but unless you want to truly get rid of your car, you’ll have to have some wiggle room.
And yes, you can add a buffer to the initial asking price of your vehicle, but if the buyer is smart, they will be cross shopping and researching the year/make/model of the vehicle to get a better idea of average prices concerning the specific car in question. Just remember: you have the advantage because they need a car, so if your information and knowledge is solid, you should get close to what you’re asking.
First impressions are everything. If your car looks like a big pile of crap, chances are the buyer is going to be less impressed, and less interested, to actually buy your car. Make sure to clean it top to bottom and really go over it with a fine-tooth comb, because any irregularities will make them question the sale.
Once you’re done cleaning, washing, waxing, and detailing, take some great pictures or have a friend do it for you. You can take them out for a beer later. Sure, iPhone pictures are great, but taking an hour out of your day to find a location better than a parking lot could pay dividends in the end.
The last thing you want when you sell your car to someone else is a piece of your identity still attached to the car weeks, months, or years down the road. Be sure to make a bill of sale and have yourself, and the buyer, complete it fully. The bill of sale usually has the VIN, any warranties, final sale price, both parties’ names, and where it was sold. This is a great way to keep perfect records of the transaction. Also, make sure that once you get payment to complete the title transfer, which officially completes the sale.
As a side note: never take a personal check as form of payment—unless you go to the bank with the buyer and get your money—because you never know the financial situation of the buyer. A certified check is a safer bet. And cash is, well, cash, but make sure you find your state’s laws regarding taxes on selling a vehicle. For more tips on how to protect your transaction, read our article here.
Founder and a car nut. Born and raised from Detroit, Michigan. Val managed 12 dealerships prior to founding Instamotor.