Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Sell your car yourself

How to make more money by selling your car yourself versus trading it in

You will always make more money by selling your car to a private party versus trading it in or selling it to a car dealer like Carvana or CarMax.

You’ll never get the full retail price as a seller. Generally speaking the private party price is about halfway between full retail and trade in price.

Here’s how to sell your car yourself

Go to kbb.com, edmunds.com, and nada.com and find your car’s current private part selling price. Next, search local car ads to sell what comparable cars are selling for. Use that data to set your price.

Clean your car before listing it

A clean car always sells faster.That means a full interior and exterior detail. Pay special attention to the seat upholstery, carpets, door panels and dash. After cleaning, coat all plastic surfaces with a vinyl protectant. Shampoo the seats and carpet. Wipe down the door jambs and door sills—that extra attention to detail really pays off. Next, clean all the junk out of the truck and vacuum it. If your floor mats show wear, toss them and buy a new set. Nobody wants grungy floor mats.

Then move on to clean up the exterior. Wash and wax the exterior, paying attention to the wheels. Check the condition of your headlights. If they’re cloudy, buy a headlight restoration kit and polish them back into shape.

Clean under the hood.

I’ve written an article on how to clean your engine and under hood areas. Find that engine cleaning story here. Buyers expect this.

Replace maintenance items

Potential buyers will check the condition of the drive belts and filters. So replace the engine and cabin air filters, drive belts and motor oil. Check and top off transmission fluid, power steering fluid and coolant.

Tires—buy a tire tread depth gauge and measure the tread depth of each tire. Most new tires measure around 10/32” and minimum depth is 2/32.” If yours are 4/32” or less, you’re probably going to get some price resistance to your asking price. You may be better off throwing on a cheap set of tires so you can advertise that as a selling feature—BRAND NEW TIRES goes a long way towards closing the deal.

Gather all your repair and maintenance receipts and put them in order

Buyers are willing to pay more for a car that’s been maintained. If you’ve got your receipts, gather them up and put in them in chronological order. When you list the car, state that you’ve maintained it well and have the receipts to prove it!

Good exterior and interior pictures help you sell your car faster

Park the car on or near grass. Shoot images from each corner with the doors closed. Then shoot interior images showing clean seats and clean carpet. Get a shot of the clean trunk. If you’ve got good tread, shot one image of a tire. Finish with an underhood shot (if you’ve cleaned it).

Get a Carfax

Buyers will want to know if the vehicle has been in an accident. You must tell the truth. A Carfax report is a selling point, so pay the $15 and list the report in your ad.

Where sell your car — best places to list it for sale

Start with a free listing on Facebook marketplace. Then place a cheap ad on Craigslist. Hold off on Autotrader because Facebook and Craigslist work as well or better than Autotrader and they cost a lot less.

Put FOR SALE signs in the windows and parking it in a shopping center parking lot for several hours during peak shopping times.

Be prepared for the calls

Here are the kinds of calls you can expect:

“I saw your car (listing), will you take $2,000 less?”

“How low will you go?” (You haven’t even seen the car. You might not even want it, so what why do you care what my bottom line is?)

“What color is it?” (even though you listed the color in the post

“Does it run?” (even though you said it’s in excellent condition)

How to negotiate with a car buyer

Rule #1:  Never negotiate the price of the car on the phone before the buyer has seen it. NEVER. If you come down in price on the phone, you’re signaling that you’re desperate. Once the buyer shows up in person and test drives the car, they’ll start the negotiations at that phone price and try to drive you down even more. If a caller offers you a price on the phone before seeing the vehicle, just stay, “I’d be happy to discuss your offer once you’ve seen and test driven the vehicle.” Don’t back down from that.

Rule #2: Negotiate from the top down, not bottom up. You list the car for $15,500 and the buyer offers you $13,000. You counter offer at $15,200. Make the seller raise their offer to come up to your price. Drop your price in only $300 increments.

If the buyer wants a pre-purchase inspection

Agree to it, but with conditions. Have the buyer make the appointment with the shop. Tell the buyer you’ll take the car to their nearby shop and wait while it’s being inspected, but you expect to be paid $50 for your time. If the shop finds items that need repair or replacement, and their findings are legit, you may have to renegotiate the price.

If you refuse to agree to a pre-purchase inspection, you’re signalling that you don’t have confidence in the way you described your car’s condition.

How to complete the sale of your car

This used to be easy because you’d get paid in cash or cashier’s check. But these days you can’t rely on a cashier’s check unless you call the bank and confirm that the check is real. Do NOT call the phone number on the check. Instead, look up the bank’s phone number on their website. Counterfeit cashier’s checks and counterfeit cash are hard to spot. It takes a bit more time and effort, but if you really want to make sure you’re getting a clean deal, accompany the buyer to their bank and witness the cash withdrawal or the cashier’s check production. Then accompany the buyer to the nearest DMV title office to officially transfer the title.

©, Rick Muscoplat






Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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