How To Sell a Used Car

There are several ways to sell your used car. Though the prospect of selling can seem daunting, you can consult this article for options and follow these basic guidelines to ensure that the process remains smooth and satisfying.

  1. Trade-in value: Dealers will offer you a Trade-in value for your car if you are buying a new car. This is the easiest way to sell your car, but you also typically get less for your car than any of the other methods. When dealers offer you a fair value for your trade-in, they are less likely to give you a good deal on the new car.

  2. Commission car lot: Take your car to a commission car lot. Some car lots will let you place your car on their lot for a fee-usually about 10% of the sale price. Check around in your local phone book for one of these.
  3. Sell the car online: There are several websites that are devoted to selling you car. For a fee, sites like Autotrader, Edmunds, and Carbuy list vehicles for sale. You can include pictures and a detailed description of your car.
  4. Place a classified ad: Classified ads are the standard for selling your own car. It usually only costs a few dollars to place an ad. Follow this link for advice on how to write attractive used car ads.

Regardless of the route you select, you're going to need to do a few things before you try to sell you car.

Appraise your car:

What is a fair price for your car? Know what your car is worth before you try to sell it. Check around on websites such as Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and NADAguides to determine an approximate value for your car. Be honest with yourself and make necessary deductions for imperfections that auto guides cannot predict. For instance, you can't tell the guide that somebody keyed your car six months ago. Take some off the price if the tires are badly worn or if there are stains on the upholstery. Also, consider the market conditions. If gas is expensive, you may have a harder time selling a car that gets few miles to the gallon. Similarly, a convertible will seem far more attractive to a buyer in the summer months.

Get it ready to show:

Clean it up. Detail the interior. Wash and wax the exterior. Clean all windows, both inner and outer surfaces. Use tire shine to give the tires that "wet" look. Make sure none of your stuff remains inside of it. Be especially sure to check the trunk or glove box for loose items such as pens, trash and old napkins. To get the best price, the car must be running and all vital equipment has to work. If vital safety equipment like the brakes is broken, get it fixed before selling your car; buyers want to see that you cared about basic car maintenance.

Get the paperwork in order:

Each state has slightly different requirements, but you will generally need a bill of sale and a title to your vehicle. Ask your local Department of Motor Vehicles office for more information.


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