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Before You Sell Your Car: A Checklist to Get the Best Price

There are many reasons for selling a car. Your lifestyle and needs might change, so the van that served your family for years might become impractical when your children have already left home and it’s just you and your spouse riding the vehicle. The cost of its upkeep might no longer be practical, too, so instead of keeping a luxury car for appearance’s sake, you might think of selling it while it’s still in prime condition and get a more practical, less demanding unit for your daily use.

Regardless of the reason for selling, once you’ve made the decision, your concern will no doubt be getting the best offer for your car. Many factors will go into its costing: the mileage, age, condition of the engine, condition of the interiors and exterior detailing, and brand appeal, among others. Some of these you can no longer do anything about (e.g., mileage), but for the others, you might still be able to do something so that you can ask for a reasonable price.

Below is a checklist of the things you can do to prepare your vehicle and impress potential buyers.

1. Buy a complete detailing package for your car.

Check its inclusions: you’ll want to see services like scratch and stain removal and polishing. Most car detailing packages are essentially just cleaning services and don’t include paint touch-ups, so make sure to get a comprehensive service. That means interior and exterior cleaning, fixing paint scratches, removing stains, smoothing out bumps, and fixing other superficial damage. The tiniest flaws will be the most glaring, so cover your bases with a complete car detailing service.

2. Fix all broken lights or defective bulbs.

While second-hand car buyers don’t expect to buy cars that are 100% in brand-new condition, damage in areas as important as headlights or taillights can be a turn-off for people who don’t want the hassle of going to a mechanic soon after buying a car.

3. Have the engine inspected by expert mechanics.

Better yet if you can get an inspection at the workshops of the franchise dealerships because they often have in-house, manufacturer-certified technicians. This is an important step because getting your car inspected sends buyers the message that you’re an honest seller; that you’ll give full disclosure if there are any problems with your car. An inspection will earn the confidence of potential buyers that your asking price is fair and justifiable.

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4. Decide how you’re going to sell your car.

You can trade it in at a dealership, sell through a dealership, work with a third-party agent, or sell directly to a private buyer. Your choice will depend on how fast you want to sell your car and how much you want to earn from the sale. Selling through a dealership, for example, is the easiest method and probably the fastest, too, because buyers visit their showrooms instead of them looking for buyers. However, it’s likely going to net you the least income because they will be entitled to a percentage of the sale. You can earn the most through a private-party sale, but there will be more work in store for you.

5. Prepare the paperwork.

The documentary requirements for second-hand cars vary per state, but the common ones are the car’s title, vehicle history report, an odometer certification, insurance, and a bill of sale. Dealerships usually take care of these documents if you sell through them; but if you want to sell without a third-party agent, you’ll have to prepare these requirements yourself.

6. Advertise that your car is for sale.

Even if you sell through a dealership, it doesn’t hurt to get the word out that you’re looking for a buyer for your car. If anyone’s interested, you can direct them to the dealership or agent handling the sale.

Fulfill this checklist, and you can have a hassle-free experience selling your car. More importantly, you can get the profits you hope to get from its sale.

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