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Tips for selling your car privately

Date posted:  9/15/16 09:00:00 AM Tips for selling your car

Selling a car on your own means you can usually receive between 15 and 20 percent more than if you simply trade it in at a dealership. In addition, this option gives you more control over what happens to your vehicle.

You might be looking to sell your car for multiple reasons, but what it ultimately comes down to is ensuring you receive the best offer and a stress-free selling experience.
Follow these tips to facilitate more positivity during the process:

Research the market
Edmonds suggested getting a feel for the current market. You'll want to know whether consumer confidence is high and if your car is a hot commodity. In general, family sedans are typically always in high demand as many individuals seek inexpensive, basic transportation. Trucks and vans that can be used for work purposes are also generally sought out.
Convertibles and sports cars tend to only be in high demand during warmer seasons when they can be used to their full potential. The fall and winter weather might make it more difficult to sell these vehicles. 

You will also want to have a good idea of what cars similar to yours are selling for in your area. This will help you determine how to the list price for your vehicle.

Collect information
When you sell anything, you must be prepared to answer a variety of questions. Kelly Blue Book indicated it is important to know the maintenance and history of any body work done on your car. Gather receipts for services completed on your vehicle. If you don't have a receipt, head to your dealer or mechanic to request a copy.

"These days, regular oil changes are an even better indication of good upkeep than tune-ups," says Dan Ingle, Kelley Blue Book's Vice President of Vehicle Valuations and Industry Products. "If you changed your oil every 3,000-8,000 miles, in keeping with the manufacturer's recommendations, that's a good signal to a buyer that the car has been cared for."

If you were not the only owner of the vehicle, reach out to the previous one to request information you may not currently have. The more information you can show potential buyers, the more comfortable they will be with the car's history, which may make it easier to complete the deal.

Determine the selling price
Competitive pricing is critical for gaining the most interest in your vehicle. Determine an acceptable asking price for the car based on current market conditions and the demand for your type of vehicle.

You may want to price it slightly higher than the amount you are willing to accept because buyers usually try to negotiate in $500 and $1,000 increments. also suggested using online resources to assist with determining your car's value. A few sources that are helpful include:

  • Kelley Blue Book
  • Edmunds
  • Autotrader
  • National Auto Dealers Association

If you are looking to sell your car very quickly, or if it has been in a major accident, you'll want to price the vehicle lower to appeal to more individuals. Ensure you are upfront about the reasons why it is so affordable.

Have your car inspected
While online resources and collecting records of maintenance are helpful, having a mechanic evaluate the true condition of your car will be especially valuable when you need to determine a fair selling price.

In addition, an inspection ensures there won't be any surprises in the event that an interested buyer also wants to have an inspection done.

Invest in your vehicle
Spending a little time and money on sprucing up your car may help increase the final purchase price. A great way to make your vehicle more appealing to buyers is by having it washed professionally. A thorough cleaning is critical for making your car stand out.

"Unless your car is a rusty bucket of bolts, a professional detailing job is always worth the money," noted Richard Homan, senior vehicle evaluation editor at Kelley Blue Book. "If you don't want to spend the money for a professional job, be sure that you at least wash and wax your car and change the oil."

There are plenty of other ways you can enhance your vehicle. Replace the lights, get a tune-up and ensure the tires have plenty of tread.

If your car requires significant repairs and maintenance, Kelley Blue Book suggested trading it in instead. Because dealers can have body work done at a discount, you might make more by working with an industry professional.

Sit down and figure out how much you will need to spend to make the vehicle appealing to buyers. If it is more trouble than it's worth, change your tactics.

Market your car
Today there are many ways you can advertise your vehicle. From websites and message boards to newspaper ads and word of mouth, there you are many ways to announce that your car is for sale.
Online classified ads and social media will likely get the most visibility, so incorporate these into your strategy. Some of the most popular websites for advertising used cars include:

  • Craigslist
  • Carvana
  • Zipflip
  • Beepi

When you place an ad, ensure you include accurate contact information. In addition, make sure you are available at that number or email address regularly. Being available to answer any questions will leave a good impression on the buyer.

The description for the vehicle should be detailed, and you should post several pictures of the car from all angles, including the:

  • Body
  • Trunk
  • Engine
  • Interior
  • Engine

Take the pictures right after it's been thoroughly cleaned to ensure it makes a good first impression on potential buyers.

Protect yourself
When selling a car privately, you want to ensure you don't fall victim to fraud. Follow these tips to keep yourself safe if you decide to sell the vehicle yourself:

  • Do not accept a check or a monthly payment system. You should only take cash if you are selling the car to someone you know and trust to reduce the risk of counterfeit bills.
  • Meet prospective drivers at a public place when completing the sale and when test driving the vehicle.
  • If possible, have someone join you whenever someone comes to look at the car.
  • Ask for a driver's license when a potential buyer wants to test drive the car.

Your safety is of utmost importance when selling a car. You want maximum exposure and a high volume of interested buyers, but you also want to feel secure when showing the vehicle. And, overall, finding the right buyer is the priority.

Selling a car privately can maximize your profit, but ensure you prepare appropriately.After your old car is sold, check out what our auto loans offerings can do for you and your next car purchase.

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