8 Tips to Help You Sell Your Car
The sale price of any car depends on a number of factors (make/model, condition, mileage, and age). The price buyers are willing to pay also could increase because of low supply; in fact, now might be a great time to sell a car.
While car owners could try to sell a car with a loan balance, this can get tricky. Those who own their car, though, might have an easier time selling. Here are 8 tips to help you sell your car for the best price:
- Research the value
- Clean the vehicle and invest in detailing
- Research different selling platforms
- Take a variety of photos to post on advertisements
- Request a Carfax
- Write a compelling description
- Find the best payment platform
- Locate the title and title release paperwork
There Are Three Selling Options
Car owners need to determine how they wish to sell their vehicle. For example, they can sell the car to a dealership or privately. In addition, they also might sell the vehicle to an online car company like Carvana.
Selling to a dealership or to companies like Carvana can be the easiest options. Buyers could bring their vehicle to the dealership to receive a quote. For sites like Carvana, car owners might need to submit all the data related to their vehicle. The site would then provide a quote for the purchase price; someone with Carvana also would inspect the car.
Selling the car to a brick-and-mortar or online site won’t offer the best prices, though. Buyers will receive the most money for their car if they sell it privately. Dealerships need to build-in a profit margin, which is why they will offer less for a vehicle.
Private sales aren’t for every car owner. Selling a car privately means the owner needs to find a site through which they wish to advertise and sell the car. Owners also will need to handle test drives and vet the buyer, too.
Kelley Blue Book (KBB) offers safety tips to car owners who want to sell their car privately. For example, always meet a buyer in public and always bring a friend or another individual along for test drives and meet-ups.
Research the Value
Regardless if the car owner plans to sell their vehicle to a dealership or privately, they will need to research the value of the vehicle. Car owners can use KBB to determine the trade-in value (when selling to dealerships) or the resale value (for private sales).
Car owners will need to enter the make/model of their vehicle or the VIN or license plate information. KBB also will ask owners to choose their trim and select any features found in the car; if the vehicle is just a base model, car owners can select the base trim. KBB also will ask the owner to choose the color of the vehicle and to select the car’s condition.
KBB includes a description of the condition options. Car owners can choose the condition that best fits their vehicle, but they need to be honest. Neither a private buyer nor a dealership will pay for a vehicle that’s advertised to be in excellent condition when it’s only in fair condition.
Research Different Selling Sites
For car owners who plan to sell their vehicle privately, they can research different sites on which to advertise and sell their car. Some sellers use Craigslist, but other car owners choose another option.
Car owners should understand the pricing structure of the site. Is it free to list a car for sale? Are there limitations to how many images a seller can include? Take time to check out all the options to find the site that best meets the budget.
Clean the Vehicle and Invest in Detailing
Before snapping photos of the interior and exterior of the vehicle, car owners need to clean their car meticulously. Cleaning the vehicle to prepare it for a sale goes beyond just a simple car wash. Buyers will need to wipe down the interior, vacuum the car and remove any stains from the interior.
If the budget allows, car owners might decide to invest in a professional detailing service. Detailing includes services like odor removal, stain removal, etc. If the leather interior is worn, a professional might be able to re-condition those seats. The price of detailing can vary, but the average price is around $160.
Take a Variety of Photos
Car owners should take a variety of photos to include in any advertisement or online listing of their car. Don’t just take one photo of the exterior, opt for an entire slideshow of images. Here are ideas for photo editor:
- Exterior front of vehicle
- Exterior back of vehicle
- Exterior side photos (both left and right)
- Close-up images of tire rims
- Image of the open space of the trunk (don’t forget to clean the interior of the trunk)
- Close-up image of the infotainment screen, instrument panel and door interior door handles
- Image of the odometer showing the mileage
- Close-up images of any upgraded features
- Images of any dents, rust spots or other imperfections
When selling a vehicle, it’s important to disclose any damage to the exterior and interior of the car. Photograph any scratches, dents, etc. In addition, be sure to disclose anything that seems to be glitching or any possible issues (if the AC doesn’t blow cold, disclose it).
Sellers should also take their vehicle for a service appointment. Make any applicable repairs. Be sure to keep all receipts of work that has been done to the vehicle (for the buyer’s review).
Request a Carfax
One simple but important report to have on hand when selling a vehicle privately is the Carfax. This report will show buyers the number of owners for the car (in total), any accidents and repairs, too. Visit Carfax.com to find out how to request a report.
Write a Compelling Description
After the car owner has researched the value, snapped photos, cleaned the car and procured the Carfax, it’s time to write the listing for the car sale. Car owners can get creative with their online listing, but they should include this car data:
- Upgraded features
- Any recent repairs/improvements
- Any damage
- Details of any other problems
Find the Best Payment Platform
Private sellers will be accepting the payment for the vehicle. KBB recommends choosing secure payment options like a cashier’s check. However, car owners also could accept the following virtual payment options:
KBB also advises that car owners who are selling their car privately should be aware of escrow services that aren’t legitimate. KBB provides tips on how to avoid being scammed by possibly fraudulent escrow providers.
Locate the Title and Lien Release Paperwork
When listing a car for sale, car owners should locate the car’s title and any lien release paperwork that was provided by a lender. Selling a car requires the owner to sign over the car’s title.
KBB advises that when selling the car, owners should keep the title out of sight and they should not sign the title before the deal is complete. Signing the title over to the buyer should be the last step in the process.
The odometer reading that denotes the mileage of the vehicle also needs to be included on the title at the time of the sale. KBB has advice related to this vital piece of vehicle information:
“An accurate odometer reading is critical when you sell. Once you sign off on the title, the odometer reading provides proof of the moment in time the car is no longer legally yours. Don’t round it up — the buyer could have an accident within two miles of the sale and claim that you are responsible.”
The Simplicity of Selling to the Dealership
Some car owners might review all the steps for a private sale and simply not pursue it. Selling privately could be more complicated, although it also might result in the best price for the vehicle.
Those who want to sell their car quickly can decide to either sell the vehicle to a local dealership, use it as a trade-in when buying a new car or sell it to an online car company (like Carvana). Before driving the car to the dealership, car owners should research the trade-in value of their car, locate their title and clean the car, too.
Researching the trade-in value of the vehicle can help the car owner better understand how much their vehicle is reasonably worth. Remember that when selling to the dealership, the overall sales price will be lower. The dealership needs to build in their profit.
KBB can help car owners better understand the value of their car, though. Just choose to review the trade-in value after entering the specs of the vehicle. KBB will give both an estimated price and a range, too.
Car owners who know the value of their vehicle can better understand if the dealership is offering them a fair deal or if they are being low-balled. Those who know the value of their car also could be in a better place to enter into negotiations.
When a car owner needs to sell their car, they have multiple options. Some car owners want the most money possible, and they are more than willing to handle a private sale. Others, though, just want to sell their car quickly; selling their vehicle to a dealership might be the best option.
No matter how a car owner decides to sell their car, they should understand the resale or trade-in value to ensure they get the best price for their vehicle.