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How to Sell a Car and Get the Most Money For Your Used Car

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Fun Rover

September 22, 2020


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Cars are the biggest purchase most of us make, second only to the price of a new home. Cars are also one of the few big purchases that many of us make on a regular basis. If you make mistakes selling your old car, it could cost you thousands of dollars. And you may make these costly mistakes every time you trade up or replace a car. Here are a few tips on how to sell a car and get the most money for your used car.

Know Its Value Before You List It

A lot of people list the car for what they think it is worth, not what it is worth. Use tools like KBB to find out what your car is likely worth. In some cases, you'll enter the model year, the make and model, and the mileage to get a rough estimate of its value.

The value of your car may be higher or lower based on its current condition. For example, people will devalue the car if it needs new tires. They'll subtract the cost of necessary repairs, too. People will also subtract cleaning costs or just devalue the car if it is trashy, so clean it up. Get it washed and clear out the trash. Treat the stains on the seats and air it out to remove that nasty odor.

Sell third party

Dealerships offer you 10 to 40 percent less for your car as a trade-in as they'd sell it retail. Part of this is because they're taking their retail mark-up into account. And part of it is the price you pay for the convenience of selling the car when you buy the replacement vehicle. Just know that this could cost you up to several thousand dollars. The more the car is worth, the more you're likely giving up by trading it in. And know that negotiating more for the trade-in is rarely worth it, because they may make up for it by not negotiating down the profit margin on the new car. Or they throw in add-ons like delivery fees, car prep fees and paperwork fees that inflate their profit margin.

Understand Your Customer

Understand what people buying used cars are looking for. Emphasize safety, reliability and good condition. If it is not very old or low mileage, say so. Don't tout aftermarket add-ons unless you're marketing the car to that demographic.

For example, if you're listing the car in a school newspaper, then you could include a long list of aftermarket upgrades like fancy speakers and a low-ride kit. Share pictures that will engage the customer such as a front view and side view. Include pictures of amenities if that's of interest to the public. For example, show pictures of the sound system or high quality entertainment center if you talk about it in the advertisement.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

If you can get the customer's trust, you'll increase the odds of selling the car and at the price you're asking. Have a copy of the title to prove it is in your name, but don't sign it until they give you payment. Know how much you owe and how you'll settle the debt, if there is still a loan on the car. Customers want to know the VIN so they can check the vehicle history report. If you give them to them, you're showing them that you have nothing to hide. And they'll appreciate the convenience.

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