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Simple steps reap dividends when selling your car

Each year, millions of people sell their used vehicles on the open market, or trade them in at dealerships. What people may not realize is that they could sell their vehicle for even more money if they would just do a little proactive homework ahead of time. Simply putting a "For Sale" sign in the car, or driving it to the closest dealership, is not enough to net you the highest payout for your wheels. "If you just sell your used car, without doing a little legwork first, it will cost you in the end," explains Barbara Terry, author of the new book How Athletes Roll (Comfort Publishing, 2010), which showcases athletes and the cars they drive. "You can easily sell your car for 20 percent more if you take the time to be more strategic when you prepare to sell it." Here are some things you can do to get more money back when selling your used car.

Sell it yourself. To make the most money off your vehicle, you will need to sell it on your own. If you go through a dealership, you will always take a hit, simply because they will need to make a cut off the purchase. If you commit to doing the sale yourself, you will make more money in the end.

Clean it up. It is not enough simply to take out the trash. Appearances go a long way when selling a car. Invest the $50 to $100 necessary to get your vehicle professionally detailed. This way, it will look and smell clean, like it is worth more. Don't give people a reason to think you didn't take care of it, since that would be a reason for them to offer you less.

Provide documentation. If you are already at the point of being ready to sell, it may be too late to say that you should keep all documentation to provide to the new owner. But at least you can gather as much of it as possible. The more original vehicle manuals, receipts from repairs, and maintenance logs you can show, the better. It will

provide them with information they need, as well as reassurance that you kept up with the routine maintenance on the car.

Make small repairs. While you don't want to go crazy and spend a lot of money to fix the vehicle, you should take the time to fix minor things that the prospective buyer will notice and think needs to get taken care of right away. These things are usually inexpensive, such as replacing faulty windshield wipers and lightbulbs.

Be a salesperson. The reason that dealerships get so much more when they sell used vehicles is because they have followed the advice above and also have good sales skills. Once you have followed the tips above, you will need to do a good job of selling your vehicle, as well. This will include writing and placing a good sales ad. Make sure to talk up the vehicle (keeping everything truthful) and accent the positives. Also be sure to include good photos with the ad, and list it online in order to gain worldwide exposure, with a place like Craigslist or Auto Trader.

Barbara Terry is an automotive expert who speaks to media outlets across the country on a wide variety of auto-related issues and topics. She is also an off-road race-car driver. She has been featured in more than 80 publications and has made more than 350 television and radio appearances since 2006. To learn more about Barbara Terry, visit the Web site at www. To learn more about "How Athletes Roll," visit

Simple steps reap dividends when selling your car 11/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 3:30am]
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