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Avoid These Mistakes When Listing Your Car Up for Sale

Avoid These Mistakes When Listing Your Car Up for Sell

Every vehicle seller’s goal is to sell the vehicle at the highest price possible while ensuring that the buyer is satisfied with their purchase. In this article, you will learn the worst and best practices when selling a car. There are common mistakes that could cost you money, from not knowing the value of your car to lying about your car’s accident history. Avoid these mistakes when listing your car up for sale.

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What Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Car Up for Sale


Mistakes can be costly. You cannot afford to make expensive mistakes when selling your car, here is a list of things you should not do when selling your car up for sale:

Not knowing Your Car’s Value

For you to come up with the correct pricing for your car, you need to know its value. There are many tools online to help you know the value of your car. Be more specific in providing information to get a more accurate quote. Do this on multiple websites to give you a good idea of its worth. One way to get a fair starting price is to get the average of the results from the different sites.


You should also search for used cars up for sale that is just like yours to find out what others expect to get for that car. The asking price is not automatically the selling price, but it will provide you a ballpark. Your price should be similar to your competition since potential buyers will be comparing your car to theirs. To learn more about how much your used car is worth, click here.

Not Having a Pricing Strategy

Pricing does not end in setting a selling price for your car. You also need to decide ahead of time how fast you need to sell your car and how much you are willing to come down on the price. You should price it higher initially to have some wiggle room for potential buyers to negotiate. But remember not to set a price that is too high for your car’s worth.

Not Getting The Title From Your Lender

You need to have the title of the car with you when selling it. Your lender is probably holding the title if you are financing the car. You must figure out a way to get it from the lender so that you can transfer it to the buyer. The processing time to do so depends on your lender. If you come unprepared, you may miss out on an opportunity to get your car sold. 


When you own your car outright, you should have the title unless you misplace it. Make sure to find it before starting the selling process. If you couldn’t find it, order a new title from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

Inaccurate or Incomplete Advertising Information

You are simply wasting potential buyer’s time and yours if you put up an advertisement that lacks important details or contains inaccurate information. You should include the basics: make, model, year, trim level, mileage, and features. Other details you want to include would be recent maintenance like tire rotations and oil changes. You should also include obvious problems with the car. There should be no surprises.


Do not makeup stories or lie about your vehicle. The buyer can eventually find out the truth by getting a vehicle history report and getting the car inspected. The buyer could also come back to complain and cause you problems if the car ends up having major undisclosed issues shortly after it’s bought. 

Not Responding to Inquiries or Taking Time to Respond

Being able to respond quickly, preferably with 24 hours, when someone contacts you with interest in your car matters. If you are not able to get back to them in a reasonable period, they’ll probably look elsewhere. Definitely avoid this mistake when listing your car up for sale.


Once in contact with a prospective buyer, inform them if you’re unable to respond to their messages regularly. Doing so will help them gain confidence in you as a seller. Schedule a time and set a place to meet them to show your car, and be responsive as that appointment comes up. If you’ll be late due to heavy traffic, inform them so they still expect you to show up. 


Continue to respond to inquiries from other interested buyers even if you have an appointment scheduled to show your car to a potential buyer. The other deal may not push through, or perhaps the new buyer is prepared to make a better offer and move forward faster.

Not Including Warranty in the Ad

A warranty that can be transferable to a new owner is a piece of valuable information that you should include in your advertisements. If you have a third-party warranty that could be transferable, include that too. Your car will have a competitive advantage over others if it has a warranty, so your asking price can be higher. 

Advertising With Bad Photos

High-quality photos will definitely stand out. Buyers will also want to pursue a car if they can see it clearly in photos. You do not need a professional photographer or a fancy camera to have good photos. Your smartphone can take all the pictures you need. You just need to take photos of your car in good lighting and a background that will help in focusing the attention on the car itself. No distracting objects in the background. Take interior and exterior pictures from different angles and make sure to focus on all important details. 

Not Having Maintenance Records

Make sure to save your maintenance records since this can give a buyer peace of mind. It’s also one way of proving that your car is well-cared for. Having a complete maintenance record can help in building immediate trust with your prospective buyer. It will also serve as a reference for timelines to follow for regular maintenance. Just make sure that the documents you will hand over do not include personal information.

Skipping Car Wash

Washing your car is a must. A clean car does not only look better in pictures, but it also gives an impression that this car has been well-cared for. It’s a no-brainer that a well-cared car can sell easier and can get a higher sales price. You also want to get rid of personal items such as stickers or decals on your car. 

Lying About Your Car’s Accident History

It is important to disclose to a potential buyer if your car has been in an accident. As mentioned earlier, this information can be obtained in a vehicle history report. The buyer’s mechanic will also notice the repairs during an inspection. When a prospective buyer finds out you’re not being honest about something, they are unlikely to believe other things you will tell them. They may end up purchasing from somebody else.

What to fix on a car before selling?

In this section, we will talk about what things you should do before selling your car. Here are things to check and fix, if necessary, before putting your car up for sale and other tips to avoid mistakes when listing your car up for sale. These will give you a higher probability of making a faster sale at a price you want. No need to entertain 15 potential buyers before making a sale. Some included in this list will cost you money, but you can add that amount to your asking price. 


  • Tires – are usually the first thing that prospective car buyers look at when doing an exterior inspection of a car. Savvy car shoppers can detect worn down treads and almost all buyers have high standards for what they’ll take as acceptable enough to spend their money on. You would want your tires to be looking and performing as new as possible. It is easy to spot a bad set of tires during a test drive. 

Make sure your tires are properly filled up to the proper PSI recommended in your owner’s manual. If your tires are new enough and have deep tread then you’re probably good to go. Obtaining a new set of tires worth several hundred dollars won’t likely be a smart investment for an existing set that is relatively new (6 months to a year old), or on a car that will only sell for a few thousand dollars. 

  • Lights – During car inspection, a prospective buyer will check the headlights and taillights. Before putting up your car for sale, make sure these lights perform when it counts. Replace bulbs that are completely not working and the ones that are noticeably dimmer than their neighbors. Also, remove and clean any foggy lamps to return to their original luminosity. You can obtain a semi-expensive buffing kit, or buff those bulbs with some white toothpaste and elbow grease. Working lights are legal must-haves.


  • Brakes – Bad brakes are unsafe and easily noticeable during a test drive. If your brakes need a lot of force or make grinding noises or vibrations, replace them. Investing in new brakes will give you a better chance of having prospective buyers stick around.


  • Windows – Though windows do not affect the performance of the car as much as tires, lights, and brakes, windows make a difference in any car’s look. Buyers will notice any crack or chip in your windows and your car’s value will immediately plummet. Inspect your windows and take them into an auto shop to address any cracks and chips. Make sure all windows are working as well. If you have power windows, make sure they are functioning properly and if not, get them fixed, or your asking price will drop. 


  • Oil Change – Don’t forget to put fresh oil on your car. Even if they won’t check the dipstick, buyers will definitely ask when did you last change your oil. Changing is an inexpensive way to show that you care about giving buyers a well-serviced vehicle. 


  • Wiper Blades – Make sure your wiper blades are working. Screeching blades are a major turn-off. Replacing your bad wiper blades with new ones is fairly cheap, and you can get it done at any auto shop.


  • Touch Up Paint – Touching up your car can be a daunting task and can be the most expensive of any of the fixes on this list. But you can do it without costing an arm and a leg. You can buy a bottle of touch up paint from a local dealership or online. A bottle will cost around $20. Make sure to buy the right color. Watch a video tutorial on how to properly touch up discoloration and scratches on your car. If you aren’t confident in DIY, you can always hire a professional to do the paint job, but this is also recommended for higher-priced cars since it will cost you at least several hundred dollars. 

How do you avoid getting scammed when selling a car?

Not every transaction is a potential scam, but it always pays to be more cautious when dealing with an unknown buyer. Be aware of these common scams when listing your car up for sale to avoid getting scammed:

Offers to buy a car without seeing it first – Anyone offering to buy your car without looking at it first is an automatic red flag. Typically, this is part of a bigger scam. The buyer sends a bad check or promises to wire money and have a different person get the car. 

Paying with checks or money orders – Not all buyers who prefer to pay with checks or money orders are scammers, but it is a common scam to pay fake checks or money orders. Never sign the title over before the money clears, or you’ll end up giving away your car for free.

Overpayment. The buyer will send a larger check to pay for the shipping cost or promise to wire additional funds. You will be asked to deposit the fraudulent check. If you ship your car before it clears, you’re in trouble since locating and retrieving a car that has been shipped is not only costly but also time-consuming. 

Payment plans. Never agree with a promise to make monthly payments. You are not a finance company and have no means of collecting if a buyer misses or stops payments.

Escrow services. A buyer will use an illegitimate escrow service to complete the transaction. At first, it seemed secure, but once you’ve handed over the signed title, the money is no longer available. 

Asking for personal information. A buyer will promise to wire money but first, they must obtain your personal information such as social security number, credit card numbers, or bank account information. 


Definitely avoid these mistakes when listing your car up for sale. Even if it’s your first time to sell your car privately, you can do it successfully by avoiding these mistakes mentioned in the article when listing up your car for sale. Putting extra effort and being more cautious will help you not only avoid getting scammed but also get more money in selling your car. 

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