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How to Sell a Car 101

Updated on October 12, 2014
Can you imagine asking for $14000 in cash for this?
Can you imagine asking for $14000 in cash for this?

If you are looking to sell your car, like anything worth doing, requires a little effort on your part, the owner. There many really idiotic attempts to sell a car on both sites. Car dealers know how to sell, that is how they are a business, and when in doubt, look how they sell. But, the truth is, many owners just want to get rid of their car and their efforts to sell it show it. The problem is, a poor ad with little valid information is a "turn off" to buyers. It wastes everyone's time because an ad that does not answer standard questions most will ask (even the seller) when buying a car will force the buyer to ask. This will annoy the seller. If there is several back and forth exchanges to elicit the same information occurs, there is an "annoyance" factor for both parties. Worse, is a response that does not actually answer the original question or one that is personal or non-professional.

Professional? Yes, a seller is trying to sell something to a stranger. Many buyers may be interested in the car but will not deal with inept or stupid sellers they cannot trust. This is where a well informative ad saves all parties time and the annoyance factor. Any car ad that only states it is in "good condition", year and make and little else real information about condition, is a waste. Many sellers just want to sell it and think the car will sell with such an ad. It might, but they know questions will be coming from buyers, so to avoid this annoying element, just list the condition of the car in specifics. Instead of saying "the tires are good" say " tires have 1\4" deep tread" or " have x amount of miles left". Instead of saying the brakes are ok, say, " brakes make no noise when applied". You should tell the buyer when you got it, what kind of repairs\maintenance you did to the car, why you are selling, how many miles you have put on the car since you owned it. Other items that are a must are:

  • Mileage
  • Color
  • Photos of interior and exterior
  • Any issues with electrical or mechanical components that need repair
  • Brief history car, if known
  • Maintenance\repairs of the car since you have owned it
  • Rust issues
  • Brake and tire condition
  • VIN # (so a car report can be done)
  • How often the car is driven and type of driving (in city or freeway mostly)

If you address all of the above with some detail, you and the buyer will happy. The seller is happy because they will not be contacted with the same questions most buyers ask and only those most interested will. The information helps refine potential buyers down from 20 to maybe 5. The buyer is happy because all his questions have been addressed.

If the buyer cannot personally see the car because of distance, do not be afraid to sell it to those buyers. Of course, beware of scams, but these are easily avoided. If you just want case, think again. Who has $12000 in cash to buy a car!? Most cars are bought without cash. There are other means:

  • A cashier check on a bank IS cash. The buyer must go their bank, take the money from his account. The teller then creates a check on the bank's paper. The check is made to the seller.The money for the check is immediately deducted from the buyers account. It is not like a regular check at all. Most banks have special paper they use to prevent fraud also.
  • A money order is very similar, but is not drawn on bank paper. So, more caution is needed if accepting this form because there have been some money order fraud.
  • Paypal or bank transfer. Either is secure and instant. Much like a debit car where the money is instantly deducted from the buyer account and sent to the seller. Very few chances of fraud. A bank transfer includes the account numbers of both the seller and buyer and there are bank fees. But, it is fool proof.
  • Regular check is not recommended at all. Too much fraud or chances of insufficient funds.

The key in the financial part of a car sale is if a cashier check or transfer is done, simply do not release the car for pickup (say, to an auto transport or other) until the transfer is verified. With a cashier check, upon receipt, simply deposit it into your account and ask for the bank to verify that it is legitimate. They may tell you instantly or ask you to wait a few days. Until verified, just hold onto the car and title. Once verified, send the title to the buyer and release the car to transport. It is fool proof and there is no reason not to sell it to anyone who are too far away. If both of you trust one another, there is no issue. After all, the buyer is buying on faith also, they have sent you money and you could easily not send the car or maybe it was a scam.

Most people are honest. If you cannot see the car, you can hire someone to check out the car, running a VIN number helps also. The safest place to buy a car via the Internet is Ebay. Craigslist is more risk. The other thing you can do is ask the seller for short videos of the car running etc. Even selling a car for $4000 and accepting cash only is silly, again, if you were a buyer, would you just have $4000 cash laying around. The banks make it difficult also because their most common highest denomination is only $100 bills and even those are not plentiful. You are asking a buyer to go to a bank and ask for 40 $100 bills. A cashier check is the same thing.


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