Selling Your Car? Here’s How to Get the Most out of It

Selling Your Car? Here’s How to Get the Most out of It

Selling your car is usually a stressful and challenging process which requires that you attract buyers, negotiate, handle any issues with sale, and put in the necessary paperwork. 

Luckily, it’s getting easier to sell your car because there are many more options available to you today than there ever were. Here’s what you should know if you want to make the most money from the sale of your car.

Prepare Your Car For Sale

It always pays to spruce up your current vehicle before putting it on the market. If it’s a bit banged up, you might want to have minor dents and scratches professionally repaired, but don’t run the risk of making it look worse by attempting to do this yourself unless you have expertise in bodywork. Give the vehicle a good washing and a fresh coat of wax, vacuum out the interior, use a plastic cleaner on the dashboard and other hard surfaces, clean the windows, and give the seats and carpeting a good once-over with upholstery or leather cleaner. Better yet, spend a few bucks to have the car professionally detailed to return as much of its original luster as possible.

Likewise, ensure the vehicle is as mechanically sound before offering it for sale. Have the oil and filters changed, top off all fluids, and address any obvious problems – or at least those that are within your budget.


Organize Your Records

If you’ve saved all your service records, great! Use them to prove you’ve diligently maintained the car. But it’s a mistake to think you can impress potential buyers by handing them a fistful of service receipts. They’ll be overwhelmed by the number of receipts and think you’re selling a lemon. Instead, enter all the maintenance and repair items separately on a single sheet of paper, listing them by date and mileage. Then staple it to the receipts.

Wondering how well you’ve actually looked after your wheels all this time? Consult our essential car maintenance checklist and find out.


Use a Dealership 

If you want to get a car off your hands quickly, then a used car dealership is an option to consider. A dealership can usually make an offer on the spot and let you leave with cash in hands. Selling to a dealership also enables you to save some money on a trade-in from their lot. 

Dealerships can handle repairs, take care of the paperwork, and negotiate with buyers. As soon as you’ve signed a few papers, you can go home and wait for them to tell you that your car has been sold. Moreover, dealerships are an excellent way to go if you want to trade in your old vehicle and use it as a down payment for a new one. 

Be aware though that you won’t get as much money with a dealership as you would selling the car yourself. They need to turn a profit, so the difference between the two options can be as large as a couple of thousand dollars.


Selling Privately

If you can handle all that comes with the process, you can sell your car yourself on the used market. To do so, you will need the car’s maintenance records, title, and warranty documentation. Before you put the car up for sale, make sure you’re following all the applicable laws as they vary by state.

Following that, come up with a price. You should consider the market, pricing guides, the competition, and use your intuition, according to Edmunds. Also, leave some wiggle room for negotiations by asking for at least a few hundred dollars more than you minimum. 

Finally, you should post your ad online. There are many different sites where you can buy and sell used cars such as, AutoTrader, eBay Motors, and CarGurus. What’s more, each one has some advantages. For example, CarGurus has an Instant Market Value estimate to help you come up with a price. There are also sites like California-based Shift that combine aspects of a dealership and private sales websites. They offer pick-ups, appraisals, and inspections, besides handling the ads. When a buyer purchases your car from Shift, they’ll send you a check. This is often the easiest way to sell a used car, and you’ll get more money than with a dealership.


Important Things to Remember

Whether you sell a used car privately or to a dealership depends on how involved you want to be in the process. Both approaches have their pros and cons, so consider them carefully before you end up going with one or the other. Your best source of information is an online search. It’s also the quickest.

[1] “How to set the right price to sell your used car,” Edmunds, 13 November, 2013.
[2] “How to get the most money selling a used car,” Motor 1, Jim Gorzelany, 1 June, 2017.
[3] “5 Tips For Selling a Used Car,” Reader’s Digest Canada.
[4] “Top 13 sites to buy and sell used cars,” Montway, 21 February, 2019.