Selling your current vehicle on your own will get you a higher price than trading 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 the 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 following the advice in “What is your car’s value?”, you should have a good idea of what the retail and local asking prices are for your vehicle.
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 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 will scare off some potential buyers if you set an unrealistic price.
There are many ways to advertise your car. Some are more effective than others, and the 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 is big enough, you might be surprised at how much interest you generate. And it’s free.
- Online classified ads are becoming the most effective way to advertise cars. Cars.com, which operates in partnership with MSN Autos and Kelley Blue Book offer several ad packages from $20 to $55. The lower price is for a two-week ad with a stock manufacturer’s photo of your model. To post photos of your personal vehicle, however, you’ll need to upgrade to a 30-day ad for $40, with free renewals. AutoTrader.com has ad packages from $25 to $75 (including photos of your own car), and will post your ad on several other websites, including AOL Autos and Yahoo Autos.
- Daily newspaper ads can work but aren’t as effective as they used to be. Some newspapers will give you both 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 in attracting readers’ attention.
- 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 price, 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 come 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.
No-shows are one of the frustrating aspects of selling your own car. When you do show it, 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. If the buyer is a friend or relative, there should be little risk in allowing him or her 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. The inspection shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Know what paperwork you need to have with you
The paperwork requirements vary from state to state. In some, transferring ownership of a vehicle to another person is as simple as entering the odometer reading, sales price, and your signature on the back of the certificate of title. In others, you must fill out official title-transfer forms. Contact your state’s DMV to see what you should do.
If there’s an outstanding loan on your car, you and the buyer may have to go to your lender and make sure the lender gets its money before you get what’s left. And a bill of sale is often required by the buyer for sales-tax purposes.
Wrapping up the details
Buying a new vehicle is an exciting experience, but not getting the full value for your current car can leave a bad taste in your mouth. By knowing its true value, spending a little time making it look its best, and sticking to your price during negotiations, you can get its full value, whether you trade it in or sell it yourself. This will only add to your overall satisfaction with your newer vehicle.