Whether you’re family has outgrown your current vehicle or you’re looking to downsize, selling your current car yourself has several advantages. Not only will you likely make more money with a private sale over taking the trade-in value at a dealership, you also get to negotiate your terms in detail. The time, place, method of payment and trading for other items are all at your discretion. Here are nine steps you need to take before you place your advertisement.
9. Make sure you can afford your new car.
The last thing you want to do is sell your current vehicle and then not be able to finance the new one! Use a car loan calculator to ensure your payment will fit into your monthly budget. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of maintenance and normal repairs, and check your credit reports for any erroneous items that could be tanking your score.
8. Remove any after-market items not included in the sale.
If the sale isn’t including the nice rims, stereo system or custom seat covers, remove them before you take any photographs or place an ad. Even if you state in your ad that these items aren’t included, buyers will want to see what is being offered. Are you going to reinstall the factory radio or leave a gaping hole in the dash? Just how bad are the factory rims you’ve had stored in the shed for years? Your buyers will want to see what is being offered.
7. Clean the car up.
It should go without saying, but peel off those bumper stickers, get rid of the dirt caked under the pedals, throw away the mound of empty soda bottles in the backseat and attack that dubious stain on the upholstery with a rug scrubber’s hose attachment. If you’ve smoked in the car, scrub down the entire interior, douse it in Febreze and let it air out before you even list it for sale.
6. Make small repairs to both the exterior and interior.
Take an afternoon and go over your vehicle with a fine-toothed comb. Use a bottle of touch-up paint to cover minor scratches, buff out any scuff marks on the leather and order a new cover for the dome light that you broke two years ago. Replace the dry-rotted windshield wipers, check that the fluids are topped off, all the belts and hoses are in good repair and ensure that the car starts and runs quietly. The more you do, the more you’ll recoup from the sale.
5. Polish it to a high shine.
You’ve done a light clean before you did your minor repairs, now it’s time to get serious about cleaning. Scrub the exterior and give it a wax job. Polish all the windows and chrome, clean all of the controls and dash components, vacuum and scrub all of the upholstery. If you’ve smoked in the car, this should be the second scrubbing for the interior. It needs it. Resist the urge to try to cover up any odors with air fresheners. Those with sensitive noses or allergies may not be able to handle any harsh smells. Air the car out after you’re done washing and scrubbing it down to allow any lingering scents to dissipate.
4. Have a mechanic give it a good once-over.
If you live in a state that has mandatory inspection, you can omit this step if your inspection is only a few months old. Otherwise, have the car looked over for any obvious mechanical problems. Not only does this solidify your position as selling in good faith, which can help immensely if the buyer experiences a problem and takes you to small-claims court, it also makes for an attractive selling point.
3. Amass all the paperwork you have.
Nothing is more aggravating than wanting to buy a used car but being unable to get the title transferred due to lost paperwork. Before you even list the car, make sure you have the title, insurance paperwork and other essentials put aside.
2. Find the extra keys.
If you don’t find them now, you’ll stumble across them in three years when you move. The new owner is not going to appreciate paying a hundred dollars or more for a second ignition key.
1. Put word out to your friends and family.
Before you post an advertisement to the public, let word out among your social circle that the car is up for sale. This is an especially good idea if you often get compliments on your vehicle. Why pay for an advertisement if your buddy from work or the lady from church would love to buy your ride?
Selling your vehicle privately certainly does take more work than simply driving it to a dealership and taking what they will give you for it. However, the extra money you make with a private sale can easily offset the inconvenience factor by quite a bit. Following these steps will allow you to maximize your profit.