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How to Sell a Car the Easy Way

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Buying a used car, or a new car, can be exciting. However, selling the car you already have may pose a challenge. What are the best ways to sell a car? You can sell to a dealer with a trade-in or privately to your fellow citizen. Another option remains: sending the car to the junkyard for cash payment.

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Selling a car is no cakewalk. There are a lot of complications if you don’t know what you’re doing. With a little homework, though, selling your vehicle could be as easy as pie.


There are some good tips to know about selling a car. For instance, a car that’s cleaned inside and out will sell better than a car that’s covered in dust and needs a good vacuuming. In some cases, some basic repairs can make the car’s value go up.


If you get the oil changed, the brakes replaced, and the car detailed, you could run up that sales price without guilt. However, if the car is on its last leg as it is, you might be better off selling the car to a mechanic or the junkyard. 


Finding the right way to sell a car is both an art form and a science.


How do I Honestly Sell my Car?

If you want to learn how to sell a car, you may be looking for honest tips and tricks. 


Some people are dishonest when they sell a car, telling the buyer anything they want to hear to close the sale. Truth be told, the process doesn’t have to follow such a script. You can be sincere and sell your car, too.


There are a few simple steps required when selling a car.


The first step is to get your paperwork in order. Be sure you round up the car’s title (pink slip) and other required documentation. In most cases, the title is the only thing you need. However, a copy of a recent vehicle inspection test receipt or completed repair bills may be in your favor as well.


RULE: Don’t sign the title until you’re finishing the sale. You don’t want signatures on that piece of paper unless the deal is going through. There’s a reason why “clean and clear” title is a selling point in many classified ads on the Internet today.


If you haven’t received the title, because you’re still making payments or because you’re leasing the vehicle, you may not be able to sell yet. You can’t sell a leased vehicle. It’s not yours. You can, however, work with a lender or dealership to sell a car on which you are still making payments.


The next item of business is checking in with your local department of motor vehicles (DMV). In some states, the agency goes by a different name such as department of transportation or motor vehicles division.


You want to check with the agency because you could be dealing with a special case. 


If you’re trying to sell the car of somebody who died, there are special papers to be filed. If the car is on a salvage title (it was sent to the junkyard or deemed totaled by an insurance company), there are additional documents to fill out.


The nice thing is that some states have streamlined this process, especially in the wake of the pandemic. What once required several visits to the DMV offices can now be done online in some localities.


Another idea would be to order a car history report, especially if it’s in your favor. If you can find your Carfax listing, that could be a selling point for the buyer. If you can prove the required recalls on your vehicle were done correctly, that’s another selling point. Even records of oil changes are a plus.


Bonus tip: Don’t round up, especially on cars that are priced at a number less than 10K. You don’t want somebody to set a search parameter for $5,000 and miss out on your vehicle because you’ve listed it at $5,100, thirsty for a few hundred dollars. Instead, go for $4,950. Watch the messages pour in.


If you watch home improvement-themed shows, you know what curb appeal is. It’s when a house looks good from the outside. Although the outside of the house actually has very little to do with the experience of living inside the house (in most cases), it has a big pull on the value of the home.


When it comes to an automobile, the rules are the same. People will pay more for a car that’s been cleaned and waxed. They like cars that don’t have dents, dings, and scratches. If the wheels are bad, change them. 


Sometimes you can spend $500 and make $1000 when it comes to fixing things up.


Be mindful that if your car sits on the market for a long time, you may find yourself investing in a detailing a few times, especially if you’re still using it as your “daily driver.” 


If you’re using the car that you’re selling to get around, there’s no eating, smoking, or drinking in the car. You need it spic and span.


At the end of the day, you want the potential buyer to be able to imagine themselves in the driver’s seat. If not, the sale will not go through.


What is the Best Site to Sell My Car?

Selling a car on the Internet is no problem in the twenty-first century. 


You just have to know which websites are best. Highly recommended websites include Facebook and Cars.com.  Knowing which website to use in your particular case can be a bit of a marketing experiment- but one that pays off.


First of all, if you’re serious about unloading your car, and fast, you need to realize that you need to maximize exposure to your advertisement. 


Put it in places with a lot of exposure. You need impressions (people seeing the car). Put it on Facebook, Craigslist.com, and Cars.com.


Don’t rule out the old-fashioned ways either:

  • Word of mouth (telling friends and family you’re selling a car)
  • Listing a classified advertisement in the local newspaper
  • Making a flyer and posting it around town
  • Making a “FOR SALE” sign and hanging it in the window of you ride.


The people who look at newspaper advertisements are probably older and actually know a thing or two about cars. It’s a great place to list a deal on a vintage classic, but not a good place to sell your beater.


On Craigslist.com, however, people know what they’re getting into when they log on. 


They’re taking a chance on their fellow man, and so, if you are upfront about a problematic vehicle, you may still find an interested buyer. It’s all about communication, marketing, honesty, and finding the right customer.


Tips for Selling a Car

If you’re doing some thinking about how to sell a car, you’re likely looking for a few easy tips and tricks to make sure you get the most out of the sale.


The main advice given to amateur sellers is to take good pictures, especially when selling your car online! 


People are visual. They want to see the nitty gritty before signing on the dotted line. Take good pictures, in a scenic place, to show off all the car’s features.


Be sure to include pictures of the parts of the car buyers will care about. If you’re selling an older car, people may want to see pictures of the engine, the odometer, the tires, and the bumpers. Photos of the interior can do wonders as well.


Use good lighting, and choose a backdrop that not only looks nice but makes sense for your ride. If the car is good for off-roading, you might sell it faster with the car parked on a trail. If your car is super sporty, an aqueduct picture will seal the deal for the potential car shoppers.


Use the keywords to your advantage on major websites. People aren’t paying enough attention to search terms these days. People aren’t likely to type “classic ride to get me from point A to point B” into the search bar. They may, however, pound in words like “passed emissions” or “economy car.”


On websites like Craigslist, Autotrader, eBay, and Facebook, these rules are especially important. It takes more time to answer all the questions about the car, but listing whether the car is automatic or manual, whether it has AC, and how many doors it has can help shoppers locate it online, leading to the sale.


As the seller, you need to be careful. Don’t let just anybody come by and check out your car, especially if you live in a rural or isolated area. Have somebody else with you just in case the character attempting to purchase the vehicle turns out to be extremely shady. You never know these days.

Some people are professional car buyers. They will try every trick in the book to ensure you don’t get their money. They’ll rattle off market values, problems with the car, a laundry list of required recalls, and a bunch of other excuses as to why they shouldn’t have to pay the fair market retail value.


Be careful of these folks. They could be right, but if you’ve done your homework, you know what your car is worth. This can be especially challenging with private buyers. If you’re considering selling your car to a mechanic or a dealership (trade-in value), you’re likely to receive less.


When you are ready to meet a buyer, choose a safe and public location if possible. For example, look for a big parking lot with retailers or in front of the police station. If any funny business occurs, there will be support. Most people hoping to cause problems won’t agree to meet near a police station anyway.


Don’t be weird about answering questions before the meet and greet stage. If the potential buyer asks you questions about mileage, make, model, and previous owners, just answer. If you are too push, especially in the private sale, the person is likely to click on somebody else’s advertisement.


There is also something to be said about quick communication. A good rule of thumb is no more than 12 hours of waiting to respond, although faster is better. If you’re taking more than 24 hours to respond to messages, be prepared that impatient people will not wait around for you.


When is the Best Time of Year to Sell a Car?

The best time to sell a car is in the warmer months. In the USA, that’s March through August. People are wary about buying used cars heading into the winter months. They don’t want to have a problem that leaves them stranded in sub-zero temperatures.


If this happens, you can call the junkyard to haul that old car away once and for all!


Negotiating A Car Sale Price

When you reach the point where you and your buyer are talking numbers, you need to proceed with caution. This is often where people stall in trying to sell a car.


If you have an old car, you may be hot to sell it (and fast). However, if you try to overcharge for the car, you’re going to have a lot of frustrations. Perhaps you first need to determine your goal.


If you are looking for a quick turnaround, a low price suits the situation. Don’t go crazy underselling, but you can make the offer attractive. If you have a big ego, or you know your car is worth a lot of money, then you can sell it at a price that you think is on target.


However, if that price isn’t deemed fair by shoppers, you’re going to be sitting on this car for a long time. 


Don’t let your emotions factor their way into the equation. Yes, you likely paid more for the car than it’s worth, and with the car you’ve had a lot of happy memories, but none of these factors matter to potential buyers. For them, they just want a good deal.

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