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Tips for Thinking Less like a Buyer and More like a Seller When you are Selling Your Used Car

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Selling your car yourself can be a daunting and tiresome task, but it can be more profitable and easier if you know what strategies to take. Your mindset should be that of a seller, not of a buyer. Read on to learn about important tips for thinking less like a buyer and more like a seller when you are selling your used car. 

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Tips On How To Sell Your Car Like a Pro


  1. Depersonalize your car – It’s important to get rid of all the personal touches you’ve made to your car over the years. This goes beyond cleaning your car, you should remove any add-ons like bumper stickers or decals to make the car appear as neutral as possible. You would want a potential buyer to picture themselves in the car. 


  1. Mileage is relative, so make sure to do your research to avoid overpricing or underpricing your car – The odometer of a car doesn’t give you the whole picture. Some cars last longer and are more reliable than others, so mileage can mean differently depending on the make and models. If you are a seller, you should know this. 


  1. Clean your car thoroughly – Experts recommend cleaning a car before putting it up for sale. This will give an impression to potential buyers that your car is well cared for and tells them it is definitely worth their time. At the very least, sellers should wash the car, but it is also important to put more effort into cleaning certain areas. 


You can shine the wheels and wipe down the interior of your car. These won’t cost a lot, but it will make a great impression in photos. You also might want to consider having your detailed or clean your car a second time when potential buyers come to look. It always pays to put your best foot forward.


  1. Increase your car’s value with a few cheap repairs – While making major fixes before selling a car may not be worth it, some inexpensive repairs like swapping out a cracked taillight, fixing trim pieces, or de-fogging headlights can improve the looks of your car, making it appear to be worth more. 


  1. Set a competitive price – To know how much your car is worth, you can check to see what a local dealer is willing to offer on a straight-up sale. This way you have an idea of what the reasonable price for your car is. Or go to kbb.com or other car-selling sites and pricing tools to check your car’s value. 


Keep in mind to price your car a little bit higher than what you are willing to take for it to leave room for negotiation. This allows a buyer to negotiate a slightly lower price and you will still feel good about the price. When you think like a seller, you’d set a price that’s $1,000 to $2,000 higher than your target price. This is particularly applicable to prices above $10,000 because people usually negotiate in big chunks of at least $1,000.


Remember not to be greedy so as not to scare off some potential buyers with an unrealistic price.


  1. Advertise effectively – Be sure to have all the key information about your car jotted down. Make a quick, effective classified car ad that will make your car pop out from the rest. The description should be brief and thorough with the right keywords. 


Also, make sure you to have good photos taken for your ad. When taking photos, move other cars out of the frame, don’t show family members or pets or any junk. If you can, instead of taking photos of your car in the driveway, take your car out to a scenic spot like a park when you take a photo. 


Having a good description and high-quality photos are important to attract potential buyers who are most likely interested in your car’s make, model, features, and price.


Another thing to think about when advertising your car is where to advertise it. Some platforms are more effective than others, and the cost also varies, some may come for free while others can be quite expensive. Here are some ways and places you can advertise your car:

  • Word of mouth – This won’t cost you any money yet it’s one of the most effective advertising methods. Let your friends, relatives, coworkers, and anyone else in your network know that you have a car for sale. 
  • Online classified ads – This is another effective method of advertising your car. Sites like Kelley Blue Book, for example, offers a number of advertisement packages such as a two-week ad with a stock manufacturer’s picture of your car model, and they also offer a one-month ad with free renewals and custom photos. 
  • Daily newspaper ads – Newspaper ads may no longer be as effective as they once were, but it can still work. Some newspapers offer both print and online for one price. 
  • Ads in free newspapers and weekly shoppers – Expect to have lots of competition but it can still work and it’s for free. 
  • Putting a “For Sale” sign in the window of your car with your phone number and a few other important details like the price, mileage, and model year.


  1. Know what are the necessary paperwork and assemble them – The paperwork requirements vary per state. In some states, transferring ownership of a car to another person is simple like entering the odometer reading, sales price, and signature of the owner at the back of the title. In other states, you would need to fill out official title-transfer forms. 


Also, make sure you are ready with your owner’s manual, logbook, and service records for a potential buyer to inspect. If you have purchased new tires or the likes, make sure you include the receipts. 


To know the required paperwork and other things you should do when transferring car ownership, contact the DMV of your state. In case you still have an outstanding loan, contact your lender to know what has to be done. A bill-of-sale is usually required by the buyer for sales tax purposes. 


  1. Be honest – Be honest in informing potential buyers of any issues the car has that you’re not ready to have fixed and you’ll likely need to adjust the price down. Also, be honest about the amount of registration remaining.

How do you avoid getting scammed when selling a car?


Craigslist ads and other free online sites are known for being involved in scams and other crimes yet many sellers flock to them. This is not a surprise since taking on this route maximizes a car’s value instead of trading it to a dealer for a lower price. Selling a car privately, especially online, can give you more money, but it comes with a risk. Nonetheless, you should not rule out selling your car yourself as long as you proceed with caution. 


Here are tips to avoid getting scammed when selling a car:


  1. Profile the potential buyer. Make sure your buyer is legit. Talk to the potential buyer on the phone. Many scammers hide behind bogus email addresses that do not give any information about them. Ask for their phone number and schedule a time to chat. This can readily eliminate the swindlers.


Exchanging text messages about buying a used car is a norm these days, but make sure to set a phone call. When talking to the potential buyer, trust your intuition. When unusual requests are made or if there’s anything that makes you uncomfortable, better wait for another buyer.   


  1. Follow the money. Almost all online scams come from some odd financing request from the buyer. In a well-known scam, the fraudulent buyer sends a check plus an additional amount to ship the car. The seller pays for the shipping, send the car, and then the check bounces.

Before setting an appointment to meet up, inform the prospective buyer that you will only accept cash. If the buyer still insists on paying with a cashier’s check, arrange to meet at the bank and pay attention as a teller handles the payment request.


  1. Don’t be too enthusiastic. Many scams happen successfully because of the victim’s eagerness to close a deal they think is pretty good. Keep in mind that real buyers will have questions about your car and will probably want to negotiate a lower price. Also, if you are selling a car to someone out of the area, the person will likely arrange for a mechanic to inspect the car.


  1. Meet in a safe zone. Police departments have created safe zones with video surveillance since so many people are setting up physical meetings after connecting online. These are good places to meet the prospective buyer of a car. It is recommended that you, the seller, choose the meeting place. If you feel vulnerable and you’re not a car expert, bring someone who is. 


If there are no safe zones available, choose a meeting place that is well-lit and where there are many people around. Don’t forget to check the buyer’s driver’s license before letting him or her drive your car. 


  1. Avoid potential buyers with too many requests or stories. Oftentimes, scams start with unusual requests like to ship a car overseas. Sometimes, scammers pretend to be members of the military to get sympathy and evoke feelings of patriotism. Avoid unusual requests and avoid becoming emotionally involved in the transaction. 

What To Write When Selling A Car Privately

Make sure to attract the attention of potential buyers and sell your car quickly by following these steps in creating your ad.


  1. Include all the essential information: Year made and model, mileage, interior and exterior color, mileage, engine size, fuel type and miles per gallon, existing warranty information, and type of transmission – manual or automatic.  


  1. Include reason/s for selling: Personalize your ad by including why you bought the car in the first place and why you decided to sell it. If your car is worth buying, a buyer would want to know the reason you are selling it. An example of a good reason is that you need a bigger car for your growing family.


  1. Put Emphasis On the Positives: Include details that will add value to the car in the description. You can state that the car has never been in an accident. You should also include any modifications done that can add value to the car such as upgraded wheels and the likes. You should also mention if you have a detailed record of all its maintenance and repairs throughout the years.


  1. Use Concise Language: Avoid jargon or fluffy words/phrases. Use a language that is simple and straightforward.


  1. Describe the car as honestly as you can. Do not attempt to oversell your car. Include any scratches on the exterior and any stains on the carpet or rips in upholstery and other flaws that you think a buyer should know. 


  1. Include clear and high-quality photos of both the inside and outside of the car. 


  1. Include the set price that will give you some wriggle room. As discussed above. 


  1. Review the Ad to make sure everything Lita. Your ad should be written flawlessly. Before posting an ad, proofread it. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. An ad with misspelled words and sprinkled with grammar mistakes can make readability hard and not credible. Better yet, have someone else check your review ad to catch anything you might have missed out.



Selling a car privately is not for everyone. It takes time and effort but it can yield more money than going straight to a dealer for a trade-in. But you can make this seemingly difficult and time-consuming task easier and a bit faster by following the tips we’ve discussed in this guideline. You do not need to be an expert. 


Make sure all your efforts are worth it. Set the right price. Do the best you can to make your car presentable but determine if the fix is worth it. Do not fall into scams. Put your best foot forward with an honest but compelling ad. 


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