If you choose to sell your current vehicle on your own, you will likely get a higher price than if you decided to trade it in. You can always expect to get more than the wholesale price, and unless the vehicle is in big demand, buyers should expect to pay less than the retail price. But selling your car yourself takes a lot more work than just driving to a dealership for a trade-in. You’ll have to go through the hassle of advertising, taking phone calls, and showing the car.
Set a Competitive Price
By checking the car model pages at ConsumerReports.org, you can get a good idea of what the retail and asking prices are for your vehicle. Take it a step further and browse the CR Used Car Marketplace to review comparable listings in your area.
If you checked to see what a local dealer would offer on a straight-up sale, you should have plenty of information to price your car reasonably. Remember, it’s always smart to price your vehicle just a little bit higher than what you are willing to take for it. That way, the buyer can negotiate for a slightly lower price and feel good about it. Don’t be greedy, though. You could scare off potential buyers who don’t think they have a chance to negotiate.
Some advertising methods are more effective than others, and cost can vary from free to quite expensive. Don’t feel limited by the suggestions you see here. Use your imagination and go with what you think will work.
- Word-of-mouth is very effective. Tell your friends, relatives, colleagues, and anyone else you know that you have a car for sale. If your network of contacts on Facebook is big enough, you might be surprised at how much interest you generate. And it’s free.
- Online classified ads may be the easiest and most effective way to sell your car. Craigslist, the free classified listing service, can get a lot of local attention for your car. Cars.com offers several ad packages from free to $49 depending on what’s included. Free ads run for 30 days with five photos of your car that you upload with the ad. $49 buys 150 days, 15 photos, and a Carfax report. CarGurus.com is a free service that includes showcasing six photos of your car. AutoTrader, which is partnered with MSN Autos, offers packages from $25 to $100. The AutoTrader packages offer free renewals and a moneyback guarantee. The basic package is four weeks and three pictures, and you can step up to a package of 18 pics, no time limit, and a preferential “spotlight” ad running for two weeks.
- Daily newspaper ads can work but aren’t as effective as they used to be. Some newspapers will give you a print and online ad for one price. Rates can run about $30 to $40 for a week or two, although some major metropolitan papers charge more.
- Ads in weekly shoppers and free newspapers can work, but they may have a lot of competition.
- There’s always the traditional way. Just put a “For Sale” sign in the window of your vehicle with your phone number and a few other details, such as model year and mileage.
Showing Your Car
Once you’ve placed your ads, make sure you keep your car’s specifications, mileage, and other particulars near your phone. Interested callers will want to see the vehicle, so have your schedule ready so you can set a day and time. That said, don’t be surprised if some callers never show up.
When you do show the car, answer all questions honestly. Be prepared to provide service receipts and to accompany the buyer on a test-drive and to an independent mechanic.
The Prepurchase Inspection
Just about any savvy buyer will want to have your car inspected by a mechanic before the sale takes place. If the buyer is a friend or relative, there should be little risk in allowing them to take the car for an inspection. If the potential buyer is a total stranger, however, you’ll probably want to drive the car to the shop yourself. It shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Have the Proper Paperwork
The paperwork requirements for selling a car vary from state to state. In some states, transferring ownership of a vehicle to another person is a simple process of entering the odometer reading, sale price, and your signature on the back of the certificate of title. In other states, you must fill out official title-transfer forms. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to see what you should do.
If there’s an outstanding loan on your car, you and the buyer will have to go to your lender and make sure the lender gets its money before you get what’s left. In some states, the lender holds the title until the car is paid off. And a bill of sale is often required by the buyer for sales-tax purposes. Contact your state’s DMV to see if there is a specific bill of sale form. And always keep of copy of the final document for your records.