For whatever reason, you've decided to sell your car. Assuming your goal is getting the most money and experiencing the fewest hassles, the following will help you achieve car-selling success.
Wash and wax your car, dust and vacuum the interior, clean out the trunk and glove box, and spot-clean the upholstery. Oddly, a sparkling clean engine could raise suspicions, so don't go overboard in this area. Just wipe the dirtiest spots with a degreaser and sponge off battery deposits with baking soda and water. Remember to top off all your fluids.
Have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic and ask the technician to provide an estimate of what it would cost to make the recommended repairs. Then it's up to you to do one of the following:
Prospective buyers will view the vehicle with a critical eye. Even though you may have an emotional attachment to Ol' Betsy, prospective buyers will view the vehicle with a critical eye, noticing every ding and imperfection. Save yourself (and others) time and trouble by doing your best to come up with a reasonable and fair value for your car. (The Kelley Blue Book is particularly helpful for sellers because it provides a value based on the unique options and overall condition of the car.) To improve your chances of coming out of the deal with what you believe is fair, leave room for haggling. Take your rock-bottom price and ask for at least 5 percent to 10 percent more.
There are many ways to market your car and there's no reason to restrict yourself to using just one of them.
Online listings: The Web offers excellent exposure at reasonable prices and should definitely be one of your marketing strategies.
Bulletin boards: Who would be most likely to buy the car you have? A college student? Tack up a notice at the local college campus. A family? Post your ad on a grocery store bulletin board.
Mobile billboard: Stick a "For Sale" sign in the left rear window of your car (where it won't impede your view). If you want to limit the number of phone calls you get, include the price on the sign.
Display lot: For a fixed fee or a percentage of the sales price, get space in a used car display lot. Some of these lots are temporary, while others are permanent. Check your phone book and local paper for opportunities.
Newspapers and specialty publications: Still an inexpensive and effective marketing method, newspapers are often the first place people look when they're shopping for a used car. List the basics and emphasize selling points, such as low mileage, reliability, and fuel efficiency. Don't say you'll accept "best offer" unless you're ready for a barrage of calls with offers that are far too low.
How do you proceed when you start receiving phone calls from prospective buyers?
Cashier's checks or certified checks are best. Don't accept a personal check unless you know the buyer well. Do not agree to an installment plan.
Don't accept a personal check unless you know the buyer well. A bill of sale serves as the buyer's receipt and a record of the transaction. You can use a pre-printed bill of sale or create your own. Make copies for both of you and include the following information:
Follow this checklist:
Now you're ready to turn the keys over to the new owner and wave good-bye to Ol' Betsy.
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