Next to selling your house, selling a car will be one of the larger sales you’ll make in your lifetime, and you’ll probably do it many times over the years. In many cases this also means there are thousands of dollars on the line so it’s crucial you take the steps necessary in order to get the most money you can from the sale. Just two weeks ago we had to finally sell one of our cars and get something new. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your car sells for the most money possible.
Clean the Car
This may seem obvious, but it’s the number one thing you can do to help the resale value of your car. You know this as well as anyone, but first impressions are everything. If you went to a car lot and somebody showed you two nearly identical cars but one looked like it just came off the showroom floor and the other looked like it hadn’t been washed in weeks which do you think you’re going to be more inclined to buy? Spend the time and maybe even a little money to get your car looking as shiny and new as possible. This means washing the outside, cleaning the inside, and dusting all the little nooks and cracks. Obviously, a little elbow grease is all it takes to make this happen, but if you’re crunched for time don’t be afraid to spend a little money to have it done. In the end, what’s 50 dollars spent to clean it up when you’re talking about thousands of dollars on a sale?
Make Minor Repairs
Continuing with the important first impression, making those little repairs will go a long way. Maybe it’s the tail light that’s burned out, or the unknown rattle in the dashboard somewhere, or maybe just a dead battery in the remote lock on your key ring. While you have probably grown accustomed to these minor inconveniences, they won’t go over well for a prospective buyer. It may turn them away completely as they wonder what other problems might be lurking, or they might be seeing big dollar signs as a way to reduce the price. Remember, even if it’s a $100 fix, a buyer isn’t going to drop the price by just $100 so it may in fact cost you many more times the actual repair would have.
List Your Car Online
It’s no secret that when you sell to an auto dealer as part of a trade-in you’re not getting the best price for your car. That’s because the dealer has to buy your car at a price they can then turn around and make a profit on. That doesn’t mean cleaning it up and making minor repairs won’t still help squeeze a few more dollars out of the trade, but you will still get far less than if you were to sell it on your own. In the old days you had to park the car by the road with a sign, place a classified ad in the local paper, or maybe hang flyers around town, but that’s not the case today. Thanks to the internet you can literally spend a few minutes and have your car online and searchable by millions. You can utilize your local Craigslist, Autotrader.com, or even eBay. I’ve sold a car on eBay and Craigslist and will have to say it’s a great way to find a private buyer. Lastly, don’t skimp on the details. Placing your car online isn’t enough. You’re competing with thousands of other vehicles for sale so you need your listing to stand out. First of all, take pictures! Nothing helps a sale better than quality pictures that cover the interior and exterior of the vehicle. People are far more likely to buy a car or at least follow up with you if they can get a good sense of what it looks like. Finally, list all of the specifications about the car you can. People want to know what engine it has, color of the interior, type of tires, mileage, and so on. The more information you can provide the better. If you take the time to prepare your car being sold and then take the proper steps needed to get your car in front of as many potential buyers as possible you’ll be sure to get every penny you deserve. If you have some extra time check out my article on dealing with car salesmen, you might be able to glean a few tips from that so you can better negotiate when that time comes.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.