SELLING A CAR > The Used Car Selling Process

The Used Car Selling Process

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Selling a car can be a daunting experience. You need to clean it up, fix some of the most annoying repair issues, compare your car to others to determine your asking price, and understand the final negotiation techniques.

Start by Cleaning Up Your Car

This is where you turn to auto detailing to make your car look its best. You want yours to be the most appealing to a potential buyer. If your car is in excellent shape, you can get away with a good wash, vacuum and glass cleaning. However, if you have let it go awhile, it is time to take it to a professional detailer or do it yourself. The basic steps to follow are to polish and wax the paint, clean and shampoo the interior as needed, clean the wheels and tires, and apply some rubber dressing so the tires look new and black. Next, really clean the glass so it looks invisible. One thing you don’t want to overlook is how the car smells. It needs to smell clean and fresh. I have had good luck spraying the carpets with Febreze odor remover.

Fix Those Little Annoying Repair Issues

No one wants to buy a used car that needs a ton of work. I like to start out with a fresh oil change. Consider having a professional tune-up done. If there are any missing trim or damaged interior panels, get them replaced if it is in your budget. You want a buyer to feel confident that the car has been taken care of. Don’t overlook the condition of your car’s tires. New tires are a big plus on a used car. They make a car drive smoother, and people notice. One other thing to mention here are repair and service records. Gather up all of your records and put them in a folder arranged by date.

Figuring Out Your Asking Price

You don’t want to price yourself out of the market. The goal is to get the maximum profit out of your car, but be realistic. I like to visit two sites to help me set my price. First, I turn to Craigslist. I look up what cars like mine are selling for. Compare total mileage and the general condition of the car. You don’t want to be the highest or the lowest. However, I do like to add a few hundred dollars to my asking price so a buyer can bargain me down. People like to feel they are getting a deal. The next place I look is AutoTrader. Once again, you can compare your car to others just like yours.

Marketing Your Used Car

When it comes time to advertise my car, I always go with Craigslist. It is a free place to market your car. It is very important to take some high quality pictures of the car right after you have cleaned it. I like to get pictures of the interior and the outside from several angles. Now it comes time to brag about your car. Spell out what condition it is in, list recent maintenance, and disclose the total mileage on the car. This is also a time for full disclosure – list any major problems with the car. Also, consider mentioning that your price is for sale as “OBO – or best offer.” If your ad looks like you will not negotiate, many people will simply move on to the next car. This is why it is important to price your car a few hundred dollars higher than what you really want.

Negotiating the Sale of Your Car

Okay, you have an interested buyer and they want to see the car. One thing to consider is personal safety when dealing with strangers. I don’t like strangers to know where I live. I like to meet in a public place. Always have another person with you. Walk the potential buyer around the car to show off the body and the beautifully polished paint. Open up all the doors so they can see the condition of the interior. Always insist that the buyer have his cash on hand – and shows it to you before any test drives. For test drives I never let a stranger take my car out without me in it. This discourages people from beating on your car and makes it a lot less likely that your car will disappear.

Once the test drive is done, don’t be afraid to ask them if they are ready to buy the car. Price will be brought up by the buyer and you need to carefully consider the offer. Explain that you know exactly what cars like yours are selling for. Go ahead and state what you will take. Be prepared to back up the value of your car with your service records. Once the pricing issues are out of the way, it is time to count out the cash. Do not ever take a check. This includes cashier’s checks and money orders – they can be forged. Cash is king.

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