For many, selling their used car is an intimidating process. Everyone wants to make the most money that they can out of the deal, but they do not want to price the car so high that they never find an interested buyer. Getting the most money out of your car is a delicate balance.
Before you even advertise your car, you will need to know how much your car is worth. Be realistic – just because “Old Rusty” was your first car, got you back and forth to college each holiday break, and was the first vehicle you took a cross-country road trip does not meant that it is worth a million dollars. Emotional attachment and the real life value are not the same thing. Do some research of your own, such as a free vin check, to see not only what your brand and type of car is worth, but how much vehicles of a similar size and wear are. The more accurate your assessment of your vehicle, the more likely you will get the price bracket you are looking for.
Once you have determined a fair price range for your vehicle, then you can follow some of these simple tips to help squeeze out maximum profits:
- Get it cleaned. No, not the squirt some soap on it and hit it with a garden hose kind of clean – take it to a real car wash and get it detailed. The closer you can get your car to smell new and the less it smells like last week’s fast food dinner the more money you will be able to get for it.
- Take it for a tune up. Do the most glaringly obvious repairs first. For instance, if your tires are bald, splurge on a cheaper set of new ones. That way the perception of new tires will cause your car to seem like a better value to a prospective buyer. And that annoying squeak when you turn the corner may be just part of Old Rusty’s charm to you, but could be a deterring factor when someone else takes him out for a test drive.
- Role play. Take a walk around your vehicle as if you were considering buying it. What would a prospective buyer see? Is the backseat clean? Are their scuff marks on the passenger side door? Do all of the windows work (even the ones in the seat you never sit in)? If you do not feel that you can accurately assess your car’s condition from a buyer’s perspective, ask a friend or family member to do it for you.
- Know the good – and the bad – about your car. You do not want the buyer to ever feel like they have the upper hand in the negotiation. That means that you have to know your car inside and out before they even come over. If the buyer thinks that you have something to hide, or they get the feeling that you do not know your own car very well, then they are more likely to offer you a lower price than they would to someone who is confident in their car’s value.
- Get those records out. Remember all of those mechanic slips, insurance documents, and warranty information that you tucked away in the back of the filing cabinet (or under that stack of papers on your desk)? Now is the time to dig those out. Prospective buyers are going to want to know that the car was well-cared for, and there is no better proof than those documents showing that you did the work.
- Advertise in the right places. What sort of driver would your car appeal to? A minivan is going to appeal to an entirely different crowd than a sports coupe. And while some avenues work just as well for one type of car as another, being intentional about trying to reach your target audience will give you a greater potential for receiving actual offers. Make sure that your advertisement includes lots of pictures and creative, interesting wording whenever applicable.
- Be available. While you do not have to sit at home by the phone waiting for someone to call, you could miss out on a valuable opportunity by not returning those interested voice mails. Make sure that you are not only available to answer questions about the car, but that you also have a range of availability to meet the prospective buyer for a test drive.
- Leave negotiating room. Keep in mind that it is highly unlikely that you will get your asking price when selling your used car. With this in mind, it makes sense to mark up the price by 5-10% to give you room to negotiate. That way, when the buyer makes an offer that is less than asking, you still get what you wanted for the car and they still feel like they are getting a deal.
Selling your used car is sure to be a lot of work. However, taking a few extra steps will mean the difference between getting an ok offer on your car and the offer that you were really looking for. Take the time to notice the details and it will pay off for you in the long run.