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Guidelines on How to Sell a Car

Posted On: June 01, 2016

If you are planning to sell your old car, you have to keep in mind various things in order to make the selling process easier. From finding the target audience, pricing the car competitively, advertising in the right channel, to post sales issues, doing the right kind of research of each aspect will help you sell your car at the earliest and at a price it deserves. Here we have discussed most common 6 factors that will help you to sell your car.

Things to do for sell your car

Grooming the Car to be Sold

Marking the Price Tag

Advertising Smartly

Finding the Right Buyer

Finalizing the Sale

Avoiding Scams and Handling Post-sale Complications


1. Grooming the Car to be Sold

Once you have decided to sell your car, you need to do certain preparations to have the car ready for a potential buyer. It includes organizing the paperwork and getting the vehicle ready.

Grooming the Car to be Sold

Organize Paperwork: Find out the necessary papers you need for selling the car specific to your state and keep them arranged and ready.

Getting the Vehicle Ready: First impression is the last impression. As the saying goes, any person looking to buy a product wants it to look good. Therefore, get the car washed, waxed and cleaned inside out. Have it inspected by a mechanic and keep the maintenance record handy, and repair the car for any low-cost damage like scratches and dents.


2. Marking the Price Tag

The selling price of a car depends on various factors, such as the year of make, mileage, car type and condition of the car.

Marking the Price Tag

  • Older the car, the lower the selling price.
  • The cars which have run for a longer duration, have more wear and tear, hence attract lower price.
  • Family sedans and sports utility vehicles (SUVs), though considered boring, are always in demand by the people needing basic, inexpensive transportation. Trucks and vans, which can be used for work purposes are sturdy sellers and attract competitive prices. One shouldn’t underestimate their value. Sports car and convertibles have seasonal demand, much more in summers when people are willing to put the roof down. Winters attract fewer buyers for these. (Tips to drive car during wintery condition)
  • Condition of the car – Wear and tear, scrapes and dents, state of the upholstery, et al are major factors in deciding the price of the car.


While fixing a rate of the car, keep in mind to leave a little room for negotiation in your asking price. People tend to negotiate in huge amounts, so ask for slightly more amount than you are willing to accept. For example, if you are ready to give away the car for $8000, list it at $9000. This way, when a person offers lower amount, it’ll be closer to your actual price, rather than below it.


3. Advertising Smartly

In order to advertise a car, two things are required:

How Advertise Car Listing Smartly

Choose From the Various Ad Options: Deciding where to advertise is a puzzle in itself. The various options are word of mouth, newspaper classified ads, online classifieds where you can reach a large number of buyers geographically, bulletin boards at libraries, college campuses and supermarkets, a “for sale” sign on your car with the contact information or car dealership. It is beneficial to advertise your car at more than one place to have a wider reach on potential buyers.

Content of the Advertisement: The advertisement has to be appealing to the potential buyer. The ad must include the basic information like car’s make, year, model, color, mileage, etc. Apart from this, you may include special features like GPS system, add-on speakers, woofers, sun-roof, etc. Also, emphasize on the USP of the car, e.g., low mileage, fuel efficiency, reliability, safety features; however, stick to true facts and do no exaggerate.

Asking Price: Finish the ad by listing the asking price. Some sellers choose not to mention this bit of information but it often leads to unnecessary calls from people who are not interested in buying the car in that price range. Therefore, it is simpler and easier to mention the price in advertisement.

4. Finding the Right Buyer

Once you have posted your advertisement, you should expect communication from prospects, via email or phone. Make yourself available to answer the calls and emails. If you have an online ad, the added advantage of email is there, which gives you leverage on response time frame, and also helps answer the initial queries. However, very rarely the vehicles are sold solely through email correspondence. Therefore, be prepared to answer the phone. A few generic questions that you should be prepared to answer are:

Finding the Right Buyer

The Reason to Sell the Car: The buyer wants to be assured that he’s not buying a problem vehicle. Whether your reason is buying a bigger car or relocation, keep your answer precise and honest.

Car Service Records: Better maintained vehicles sell faster and having a proof of your car’s maintenance records makes it a less risky business.

Test Drive: There’s hardly any car ever sold without being test driven by the buyer. Decide on a safe meeting spot and make sure to have a look at the prospect’s driving license and insurance proof before giving the car for test drive.

Payment Options: Many a buyers want to have a clear picture of the payment method, even before making up their minds. Payment method might be one of their criteria to choose a car. Apart from cash and online money transfer, provide other options like check if you are willing to accept. Whatever payment method you choose, make sure you secure the money before handing over the title. In case of certified checks, verify the authenticity with the issuing bank to confirm the buyer’s account has sufficient funds.

Have a positive and confident tone while speaking to the potential buyer. Desperation in the voice of sellers can be exploited by experienced buyers, resulting in lower sale price. Ask for buyer’s name and contact number, as early in the conversation as possible, for further correspondence.

Make sure whatever information you are providing to the buyer is factual, accurate and honest. If the buyer finds out any of the information to be misleading, your credibility goes for a toss and the sale goes kaput. Focus on answering all the queries of a buyer and be helpful. Emphasize on the best features of your car and encourage the buyer to visit for a test drive.

You may also expect calls from used car dealerships. They may offer you less money than individual buyer; however, you may consider it for a quick sale.


5. Finalizing the Sale

Check for the laws in your state from the Department of Motor Vehicles, as the rules vary from state to state. After the funds are transferred to your account, the odometer reading has to be recorded and the car’s title signed in buyer’s name. The bill includes:

Finalizing the Sale

enlightened Name, address and contact numbers for both the buyer and seller.
enlightened Car’s make, year, model, mileage and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
enlightened Sale price and the mode of payment.
enlightened A statement mentioning the car was sold “as is”, which means there is no warranty or guarantee to it (unless arranged otherwise).
enlightened Signature of both the buyer and the seller along with the date.


6. Avoiding Scams and Handling Post-sale Complications

The best possible way for a seller to avoid any post sales problem is to have the entire amount in hand before transferring the car ownership to the buyer. A few known scams in the market that a seller needs to be vary of are:

Avoiding Scams

Bogus Escrow Services: This service is used mostly by online car sellers, in which the service collects and verifies the payment of the vehicle from the buyer. The money is held, and not transferred by the service, until both the parties are satisfied with the sale. A few incidents of phony escrow services operating over the internet have been reported.

Fake Auctions: Many online websites like eBay and Amazon have become popular for selling commodities as big as cars. However, there are many fraudulent auction sites in disguise. Research carefully the buyer’s history and never ever transport the vehicle before the funds have been transferred to you.

Certified Check Scam: In this scam, a bogus buyer intends to buy a car and pay via cashier’s check. At the end moment, the buyer comes up with a reason to write a check for higher amount, asking the seller to transfer the differential amount online. It is often seen that long after the seller transfers the money, the check turns out to be fake. Always verify with the issuing bank before you accept the check to avoid such frauds. Also, before transferring the ownership of the car to buyer’s name, wait for the check to be cleared by the bank.

Keeping in mind these basic rules, the experience of selling a car will become easier and hassle-free.

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