How I Would Sell My Used Car

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There Are Several Good Ways to Sell My Used Car


I might list the vehicle online at Auto Trader or eBay Motors with some success. I could sell my used car through word-of-mouth by just letting people in my circle of friends and co-workers know I have a car for sale. I might even post a note card in my company newsletter or on a bulletin board in the office.

If I want to enlarge that circle, I might put up flyers at the grocery store, auto repair shop or local restaurant. You could also consign the vehicle to a local used car sales lot and let it sit there until someone buys it.

No matter which way you decide to sell your used car, there is going to be some sort of cost - either in time or money. A listing will likely cost you something, although typically not a great deal.

Consign your used vehicle to a car lot and you'll have to give a portion of the sale to the dealer. Word-of-mouth selling may require a bit of salesmanship on your part, this is more a cost of your time rather than money.

In whatever way a used car is sold, there are some things I always do before I sell my used car.

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Determining the Worth of My Used Car

I get ahold of a Kelley Blue Book or check out Kelley Blue Book online to get a good idea of the value of my used car. I might also want to look in the classified ads for similar used vehicles and see what people are asking for them.

Sometimes, a particular vehicle is worth more in certain areas. For example, I discovered used 4-wheel drive Subarus sell for a lot more in high elevation Colorado mountain towns than they do in the flatlands of South Texas. I like to use as many sources as possible to determine a fair market value price of my used car before I offer it for sale.

I also gather together all the paperwork, receipts and other documents related to the service which the car has received during the time I owned the vehicle. A used car with a good record of service is more valuable.

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Used Car Selling Tips

Knowing and Setting a Competitive Price

Trying to set a value or price on my used car has always been the most difficult part of the selling process. Place a high price on the car and it may take a long time to sell. Place a lower price and it could move pretty fast. Here's what I do when I want to fix the perfect price for my used car.

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First, I take a look at the market and see what the competition is doing. I look for similar vehicles and how many are available. If there are a lot of the same cars available in the newspaper classified ads, I know I'm going to have to set a low price if I want it to sell quickly. If there are too many similar vehicles, I might even decide that I could get a better price listing my car in a different venue or even a different town or state.

Trucks, vans and family type sedans are always in demand and will typically go for a good price. Collectible cars, classic cars, convertibles and vehicles with lots of fancy options may not sell as well because most people just don't typically need these types of vehicles.

One last note on setting a price: I will always determine the least amount of cash I will take for my used car before I offer it for sale. I may get a lot of offers from folks and if I know the least amount I will accept beforehand, I can eliminate most low-ball offers right away. I always know the value of my used car before I put it on the market.

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Making My Used Car Look It's Best

Of all the used cars I have sold or bought over the years, the cars that look better always get noticed faster and command a higher price. One thing I have learned about car buyers is that they aren't buying a car, they're buying a dream, a vision of what they think the vehicle can do for them. Before I sell my used car, I always make sure that I have done a few things to make it have the best "curb appeal" possible.

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The Final Transaction

All my paperwork is in order and in hand. I have an interested buyer and he has made an offer which I have declined (I always decline the first offer). In response to his offer, I make an insultingly low counter offer, we go back and forth for a bit until we have agreed on a final price. I am ready to sell my used car and make the transaction final.

First a thorough wash, wax and trip to the detailer. In my town there are a few local car wash operations that will do this for a good, low price. Make sure they clean the inside carpets and upholstery as well. I want the car to look its best and few dollars invested here will typically pay off big when I finally sell my used car.

Next, I'm going to fix any little things like a squeaky trunk, sticky door, broken control knobs or any other little things that may need repair. Upholstery repairs need to be done here, too. A small rip or tear in the upholstery can turn off some folks and cause them to ask for a reduction in price. Remember, sellers are looking for any little thing to get a reduction in the final sale price.

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Sell My Used Car to Cash For Cars

If you don't want to mess with selling your used car, the Cash For Cars folks claim that all you have to do is make a simple phone call and your car is sold. They also buy new or old cars in any condition, clean or wrecked, running or not. If I wanted to sell my used car and sell it fast, this would be an option. Be advised that you will likely not get the price you want for your used vehicle.

I always demand cash or a certified check ONLY - and I make that clear before the buyer comes out to see the vehicle.

I used to take a cashier's check if I knew the person and if the cashier's check was drawn on a local bank. I do not do that anymore since I was offered a $5,000 (USD) cashier's check for a purchase a few years ago.

My intuition told me I should do some checking so I called my bank. I discovered that the cashier's check was a real check but had been stolen from a bank in another state and had the amount forged onto it. Seems hurricane Katrina had provided opportunity for some rather unsavory folks to steal several thousand blank cashier's checks from a New Orleans retail store.

My bank would have accepted the phony cashier's check but upon discovering it was fake, they would charge my account for the amount. Not only that, the US Secret Service could rightfully have sent me to jail for presenting a fraudulent cashier's check to the bank. The lesson here is to take a certified check or cash only - no personal check unless you know the buyer very well.

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You will, however, get rid of all the headaches and responsibilities that come with selling a used car. They will take care of all the paperwork and you won't have to take out an ad or become a used car salesman and make a "my-used-car-is-the-greatest-and-here's-why-you-should-buy-it" pitch every time the phone rings.

Just pick up the phone and call your local Cash For Cars location - that's about all there is to it.

Another option for getting rid of an unwanted vehicle is to donate the care to charity. Even with the new 2005 IRS tax code on charitable vehicle donations, you can still get a decent tax deduction for your vehicle. You can get more information form an article titled, Donate Car for Tax Credit or Car Donation to Charity: Pros and Cons.

This article is intended for information purposes only and not intended to serve as legal advice.

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In your experience, what have you found to be the most effective way to sell a used car?

  • List at work
  • List in local businesses like restaurants and auto repair shops
  • Local classified ads in newspaper
  • Online listing
  • Word of mouth
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