Sales is not everyone’s strong suit, and used car sales has its own stigma. But with the right preparation, you can have the confidence you need to get the most money selling your car. Here are a few strategic tips you can use when selling a used vehicle, no matter the kind or condition.
Getting the most out of your car in the future begins with how you take care of it today. Preventative care like regular oil changes and safe driving will help you get the most return when it comes time to sell your car.
- Oil Changes – Motor oil keeps your engine in proper working condition by lubricating its moving parts. This protective barrier also regulates engine temperature and prevents corrosion, which could lead to very dangerous and expensive damage that will show up on your vehicle history report.
- Routine Maintenance – Other routine maintenance services such as replacing your air filters, brake pads, and spark plugs are all key to prolonging the life of your vehicle. While these parts are seemingly small, never underestimate the contribution they make to the overall health of your vehicle.
- Keep Clean – It may not seem like it, but keeping your car clean will help with your resale value. Taking your car through a touch-free car wash on a regular basis will help prevent paint from fading and could even prevent rust.
- Safe Driving – A bit of a no brainer, but accidents dramatically decrease the value of your car. Even when repaired, a car that has been repaired following an accident is a red flag on the vehicle history report. Even if the outside looks good, the buyer has no way of knowing any residual effects of the accident and may choose to avoid the risk all together.
Prep for Success
Curb appeal applies to cars as much as it does homes. Getting more money for your vehicle can be as simple as cleaning it up and taking good photos. Prep your car, inside and out, for eye-catching photos from every angle including detailed shots. Wait for a nice day with optimum lighting and drive to a place with ambiance such as a park, atop a parking garage with the skyline in the background, or even just the side of a building with a clean wall. Don’t forget to eliminate distractions like garbage from the area. Great photos of a detailed car will naturally attract more attention and likely get you more cash in the end.
After you’ve cleaned and photographed your car, put together a consolidated write up. You could even provide your own copy of the vehicle history report. Whether you’re sharing online or in-person, offering as much information as possible gives car buyers confidence that you’re not trying to hide anything. This transparency creates a foundation of trust which will help you secure your ideal asking price.
Understanding the value of your car is the next step in getting the most out of it. The last thing you want is a situation where the buyer knows more about your car than you do. If you don’t know enough about the value of your car you could either undersell yourself or let someone talk you out of what your car is truly worth. Do a little research and look into pricing across sites such as Kelly Blue Book, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local dealerships.
There are a few primary factors that determine the value of your car, though some of the details can be subjective. The vehicle’s mileage and condition are two standing factors no matter the make or model. The value of your car based on its year is somewhat relative. Typically, the newer the better, unless your buyer is a collector or there have been recalls associated with the year of your car. The make and model can be somewhat subjective because buyers desire different cars for different reasons (ie. electric, luxury, comfort, size). Ask yourself why you bought the car in the first place.
Other factors that affect the value of your car:
- Owner Care
- Number of Owners
- Stock Accessories
- Aftermarket Upgrades
Throughout the time you’ve owned the car, you’ve undoubtedly made some changes to fit your lifestyle. Have you added a roof rack to haul snowboards or mountain bikes? Did you add navigation and update the stereo equipment for a better road trip experience? Did you lift your truck and add bigger tires? These things can increase the value of your car.
Something to keep in mind when you’re prepping to sell is demand. Today’s car market is unique. While many are working from home and driving less, Americans are much more inclined to own a personal vehicle to avoid public transportation. Furthermore, the cost of gasoline and climate change campaigns are inspiring drivers to reduce their carbon footprint. Both of these factors make electric and hybrid vehicles more attractive.
Negotiating & Wiggle Room
Now that you’ve prepped, photographed, and posted your car for sale, it’s time to gear up for negotiating. Selling privately through sites like Craigslist, eBay or Facebook Marketplace will get you the most for your car. If you have the right connections, you may be able to park your car with a for sale sign in a high-traffic area to attract potential buyers. When you sell to a dealership, they have to plan for overhead, profit, and commissions. This means the purchase price needs to leave enough room for markup and less money for you.
If you’ve researched similar vehicles for sale in your area, as well as the appropriate value for your car based on the factors mentioned above, the final tip for getting the most money for your car is to include a little wiggle-room in the asking price for negotiating. For example, if your car is valued around $10,000 and nearby dealerships are selling the same vehicle for $9,000 to $12,000, consider listing your car with an asking price in that range, but $2,000 above your ideal sale price. Wise buyers will always make an initial offer below asking price, and if you have a cushion for negotiating, you should be able to offer a competitive rate that still gets you the most money for your car.
Your Trade-In is Someone Else’s Treasure
Whether you’re retiring a hand-me-down clunker or you’re growing from sports car to SUV, there is a buyer who will find what they need in what you’re selling. Getting the most money for your used car simply requires a little cleaning, research, and strategic negotiating. In the end, if the sale isn’t as important as your time, you can always donate your car to nonprofits like The Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity, who are helping individuals and families rebuild their lives.