Selling your car can be a stressful process: phone calls, e-mails, negotiations and more. The following eight tips should help you get the most for your used car and allow you to approach the sale with confidence.
Make it sparkle
Even if that shiny new car is within your sights or already in the driveway, it's not time to neglect its predecessor quite yet. Taking a few hours to give your used car a thorough cleaning, both inside and out, can add hundreds of dollars to the buyer's perceived value of the vehicle. If it appears as though the interior and exterior of the car have had little maintenance, the buyer may assume the same is true of the engine. First impressions can be everything.
Investigating how similar cars are selling is the key to determining a fair price and unloading the car quickly. A good place to get a ballpark price is the Kelley Blue Book. After entering a few details about the features and condition of your vehicle, Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) provides a free estimate of the value.
After you've got a general idea about the value of the car, it helps to compare prices locally. Free websites such as Craigslist and Cars.com are some of the best for local comparison shopping.
In addition to newspaper classified ads (go to tampabay.com/cars), look for other ways to advertise your car. Many are free. Craigslist provides a free forum to list your car for sale with pictures. Cars.com and AutoTrader.com also let you post advertisements, if you create a free account.
When selling a high-end or vintage car, you might want to post photos from all angles on Flickr.com, a free photo sharing site, and link to the account via your online ad.
Put a "For Sale" sign in the window, with basic details about the car, such as asking price, mileage and a phone number for interested buyers.
It seems nearly every car owner makes an effort to keep all their maintenance records in one place but, inevitably, some of them slip through the cracks.
Before you start entertaining buyers, do your best to gather all the records you can find. Nothing scares away an interested buyer faster than the possibility of expensive repairs. Having proof that major repairs like the timing belt, clutch or water pump have been taken care of will help make the sale go smoother. Even routine oil change records can make a big difference in how much a buyer is willing to offer.
Do your homework
Sure, you've been driving the thing for years, but how much do you really know about your used car? Does it have anti-lock brakes? Front-wheel or rear-wheel drive? What's the gas mileage? Research the important or desirable features of the vehicle to become an effective salesperson. A skim through the owner's manual is a good place to find the answers.
Cash or certified check
When the deal is finally done, it's time to make sure you get paid. Most people are generally trusting by their nature, but when you're dealing with transactions for thousands of dollars, it's okay to ask for a little security. Insist that the buyer pay with cash or a certified check. A certified check can be obtained from the buyer's bank and guarantees that they have the funds available. If you're dealing in cash, the Secret Service has a few tips on determining if bills are real or counterfeit.