How to sell your car for the best price.

" I want to sell my old car quickly and for a good price." Or "I want to sell my car online as quickly as possible" are the common responses to car selling.

First off, It is possible to get a quick sale at a good price online if you follow some basic principles as I outline below.

Honesty and the right information are essential when selling your car and you need to be realistic about valuation. I address valuation a bit further down in this article.

The first thing to know is that you need good photos, so break out your best camera and we will get started. If you want to see the best way to use photos look further down the page where I demonstrate the best type of photos to take for online sales.

A little air driven car

Just to amuse you!
Just to amuse you!

What is the best price for your car and why?

Some old hands will tell you the answer is simple. "As much as you can get!" Although that may be correct at first glance it is not always true or wise to only consider the sell price.

The quality of the sale is always a major consideration. You do not want to find yourself being taken to a court or small claims tribunal because your car had a knowable fault that was not made clear to the buyer.

Nor do you want to put a person or their family at risk by selling them an unsafe car, so let's be clear, if the car you are selling requires expensive repairs you need to have the work done and build it in to the price, in other words pay for the work you should have paid for before it got in such poor condition.

Or .... deduct the cost and inconvenience of repairs from the price of your car which usually only interests backyard car dealers who will offer peanuts for it..

The best price is important, but so are people, and dishonest sellers are a pain in the butt to the rest of the buyers and sellers.

Do your best to ensure the car you sell is safe.

How much is your car worth anyway?

You need to know what your car is worth to begin with, and one important step is knowing what is in competition with your advertisement when you are ready to sell.

Some weeks you will find heaps of competition for your make and model other times much less. Guess which time you need to pick to maximise the price?

You need to watch the market before starting to sell to see any trends. Wednesday may be the best day to sell cars in your area, or any other day. If you see only a few cars advertised on one day and heaps on another, work out why and use that to your advantage.

The more you know the better about the current market. If you can find a period where there is just one or two bright orange Simcas, you will get a better price for yours that week!


Establishing the best price for your car.

Establishing the best price for your particular car is mostly just common sense, but you do need to know some parameters to work with first!

Many car sites will provide a search button or link to a drop down menu where you can get a detailed value of your exact car in most cases.

These websites allow you to select your make model and year.

The value of your car will pop up often with a photo of the correct model including different body styles such as station-wagons or coupe as well as the retail and wholesale prices ranging from high (low mileage 1 owner cars with full service history) to lowest ( good working condition in below average condition)

A higher mileage than the average reduces the price, a lower mileage raises the price.

If you have a very low mileage car be careful with price when selling.

Your price may be too low. Some vehicles are very sought after by expert buyers willing to pay a premium for certain makes and models with very low mileage.

There are good reasons for this, as some early models have design faults that if left unrepaired can cause major damage to the vehicle after a certain mileage.


Two examples leap to mind.

The beautifully designed Alfa Romeo Veloce GTV if driven any distance after the front right wheel had been hit hard on a curb, or run with a loose wheel bearing will wear the hell out of steering joints, the tyre on that side, then brake damage that culminates in a synchronised vibration that will crack the main chassis member!

Low mileage Veloce's are less likely to have had the chassis stressed long enough to cause extensive difficult and expensive to repair problems.

Several Ferrari's with terrible big name electrics and brass wire connections that caused constant misfiring and total ignition failures. Many of the motors are worn out through being driven while running like a bucket of bolts for most of it's life! A good low mileage one is worth a packet, and hard to give away a bad one. It costs an apartment block to rebuild the motor on these diabolical models, and I would not have even a rebuilt one at any price. Ferrari have made some shockingly bad cars!

What makes your car worth more to the buyer?

Selling a car for the best price possible can mean gaining quite a bit of extra cash, always handy, so when you sell your car always present it well, and by that I don't mean to just wash and polish the car and put black on the tyres, everyone does that of course!

No, I mean making your car stand out amongst the others that are for sale to ensure you get a good price in the marketplace against the competition.

If the ad does not say all it can for your car, most car buyers will just go to the next ad leaving you wondering why you can't sell your car.

To get the best price for your car you need to describe it better.

  1. If it is a one owner car, say so. Some people like me only buy one owner cars so it just may make the sale for you right there.
  2. Check the mileage compared to others the same year, and if your mileage is lower say so, as once again that may be uppermost in your buyers mind.
  3. If you have had defects repaired by the distributor say so in your ad. ( it lets your buyer know that you have been responsible as an owner even if it was years ago that you had it done.)
  4. State the colour of your car. You may be the only orange car in your area, and a buyer who wants an orange one goes to your ad first.
  5. Mention any extras or repairs you have had carried out. For example If you have an exotic car and have fitted a stainless steel exhaust system or very expensive tyres, give the detail to attract a buyer who is interested in better tyres or exhaust because they are looking for a car that has had improvements made to it over and above the manufacturers specifications.
  6. Mention any recently replaced standard consumables such as new tyres, brakes, muffler, shock absorbers as well.
  7. Make sure you use abbreviations so the ad doesn't cost too much if you are paying per word or character for any advertising in newspapers or other such advertising!

2006 Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla 2006
Toyota Corolla 2006

The advertisement that sells.

Your ad should read something like this.......

Toyota Corolla sedan auto 2006 blue. 39,000 miles, one owner dealer serviced, a/c e/win/ immob, t/glass. $8,000 ono

You will notice that the basic information is first, followed by the reasons to buy.

This layout is a little different to most ads, and tries to get the description a little unique even if it is by using the main description in an unusual order as I have above.

The usual ad for this car would probably be in this order.

Toyota Corolla 2006 sedan 39,000 miles, blue a/c e/win/ immob, t/glass. $8,000 ono One owner, dealer serviced.

[This is not meant to be a real advertisement, just an example of layout and structure of a car ad.]

Play around with the wording, to find what the buyer of your car thinks is important. Why did you keep it? What do you like about it most? Try putting those reasons to buy as well if you have the space.

example:

Toyota Corolla 2006 sedan 39,000 miles, blue a/c e/win/ immob, t/glass. $8,000 ono One owner, dealer serviced. This model has a great reputation for reliability, is easy on gas and has never let me down. (if true)

Another example:

Toyota Corolla 2006 sedan, blue a/c e/win/ immob, t/glass. $8,000 ono One owner, dealer servicedThis model has a great reputation for reliability, is easy on gas and has never let me down  only 39,000 gentle miles.

Without being too corny, try to include something personal about the car that may appeal to your buyer, such as always garaged, driven gently.

I have even used  "fastidiously serviced by fanatic" and found my Alfa Romeo a new home very quickly!

If selling a station wagon you could describe how the extra size has been useful, like "room to sleep 3 kids". You get the idea.


Interior controls and comfort
c/con or cruise cont
cruise control
 
air/con or air cond.
air conditioning
 
e/m
electric mirrors
 
clim/con
climate control
 
c/l
central locking
 
t/glass
tinted glass
 
e/seats or elec. seats
electric seats
 
e/s/r
electric sun roof
 
e/win or e/w
electric windows
 
f-fs/r or ffs/r
factory fitted sunroof
 
h/seats or htd/s
heated seats
 
ps or pas
power assisted steering
safety
ABS
anti-lock braking system
 
esp
electronic stability programe
 
immob
engine immobilizer
Other
VGC
very good condition
 
GC
good condition
 
lpg
liquified petroleum gas

Photo taken from front right hand side.

The potential buyer can see the front and all the right side in this photo
The potential buyer can see the front and all the right side in this photo

Photo taken fron the rear left hand side.

In this photo the rear and left side of the vehicle can be seen.
In this photo the rear and left side of the vehicle can be seen.

Photographing your car for sale online.

Many popular car websites have free and low cost online photo advertising which allows you to show your car to the buyer when you sell your car online.

Some of these sites allow only one photo.

  • If this is the case take a full picture of the whole car from an attractive angle and as close as possible.


What photos to use and what works best?

If you can only put two photos in the ad, do the following.

  • Take a photo of the front that includes one side and front of the car as in the first picture.
  • Take the second photo of the rear showing the other side and rear of the car as in the second picture.

Your buyer can now see the entire exterior of your car, and look at all the paint in just 2 photos.

Just remember to take the photos from opposite sides and from opposite ends.

A clear view of all your exterior panels may be the selling edge you need in a two photo only sale!


Photo taken from back seat

Interior photo taken from back seat showing the drivers view, thus putting the buyer in the drivers seat of your car. this  can be persuasive.
Interior photo taken from back seat showing the drivers view, thus putting the buyer in the drivers seat of your car. this can be persuasive.

Using makers promotions.

If you find some advertising that enforces the image of your car, you may wish to include it as well.
If you find some advertising that enforces the image of your car, you may wish to include it as well.

If you are able to do so on the site, put in more photo's.

  • Make the next photo of the interior from the back seat with a good shot of the dashboard showing the car's mileage.
  • Take another photo from outside the car of the interior front and rear.

On some sites photos should be re-sized first to suit fast loading on the internet but checked to ensure they are as clear to see as the original photo.

  1. You have now "walked" your customer around the car and let him imagine themselves in the drivers seat.
  2. Your average cynical buyer can see that the car is in the condition the seller is saying in the written part of the ad, as well as being provided with confirmation of the colour.
  3. If you can locate dealer advertising material that promotes your car you may be able to use that as one of your pictures as well, such as this one for Subaru.

If you follow the steps above, you will increase the chances of selling your car quickly for the best price possible.

More by this Author


Comments 16 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Very good and helpful tips. Thank you very much.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you Hello, hello, I hope it helps people to get a sale and a good price.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Very helpful advice - we tend to always get emotional about our cars and think they are worth more than market price :)


entertianmentplus profile image

entertianmentplus 6 years ago from United States

Great tips very informative hub.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you billy.

You hit the nail on the head. We need to step back and see what choices the buyer has. ... it can be a bit of an eye opener!


jacobkuttyta profile image

jacobkuttyta 6 years ago from Delhi, India

nice hub,

Thanks


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

You are most welcome jacobkuttyta.


Nicky Smart profile image

Nicky Smart 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Very good and helpful tips.


Nicky Smart profile image

Nicky Smart 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Very helpful advice - we tend to always get emotional about our cars and think they are worth more than market price :)


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thanks Nicky. You are right of course, to buy and sell one needs to leave emotions out altogether.


Urbane Chaos profile image

Urbane Chaos 5 years ago from Wister, Oklahoma

Earnest,

This is excellent advice! I'm about a month away from selling my car, but I really didn't have a clue about how to do it. There's a couple things that I have to fix, but after that, I'm good to go. I thought about just putting it up on Craigslist, but you've given me a lot to think about before I do that.

One of my biggest fears is getting scammed. Do you have any advice on how to avoid that?

Thanks for the excellently written article. Before I put my car up for sale, I'm going to have to come back and revisit this article.

Thanks!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you U.C!

When I sell I will not let the driver take the car on their own, and they can have the vehicle when I have the money in my hand or cleared in my account.

I find most buyers are happy to transfer the funds directly to my account, and this is the way I prefer.

I have never been scammed by a buyer, but I have had hundreds of sellers try it on when the motor or transmission is on it's last legs though!

Good luck with the sale of your car!


Urbane Chaos profile image

Urbane Chaos 5 years ago from Wister, Oklahoma

Earnest,

Thanks for the great information!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

You are most welcome. If you need any further help just let me know.


Gagan Modi profile image

Gagan Modi 4 years ago from Delhi, India

Very good article with lots of insights.

We run a Automobile web-portal and has dedicated section of selling cars in it. Would be keen to share the tips with our customers in India:-

http://www.mycarhelpline.com/index.php?option=com_...


davidmurree profile image

davidmurree 3 years ago from USA

am planning to sell my honda civic hybrid, i hope i will get best price

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