A Guide to Selling a Car

Bob, Vice President, Lending

When it’s time to sell your car, your goal is getting the most money with the least amount of time and hassle. Here are some tips to help you.

Dress it up.

Wash it, wax it, clean the upholstery – whatever it takes to make your car shine. Clean out the trunk, console and glove compartment. Remove bumper stickers or personalized license plate frames. Check the tire pressure and top off fluids.

You can wipe down the engine if you’d like, but not too much. A sparkly engine will raise suspicion. If you know your car needs work, you might consider getting a quote for the work. Factor needed improvements into the asking price. A savvy buyer may be interested in the cost of the work.

Price it right.

A prospective buyer won’t care that your child grew up in your station wagon. Be realistic about the worth of your car. Use websites like Kelley Blue Book or CUDL Auto Smart to determine a price.

Spark some interest and hopefully shorten your car selling experience by lowering the price a bit more if you aren’t getting inquiries. As part of your preparation, know the lowest price that you’ll accept and set your asking price above that. Used car buyers tend to haggle on the price to make sure they’re getting a good deal, so be ready for negotiation.

Keep in mind the cost of keeping it around for a few extra months. The sooner you move the car, the less you’ll pay in things like loan payments and insurance.

Get the word out.

Utilize online resources like Facebook or Craig’s List and paper publications like a local newspaper or the Penny Saver.

Create a flyer to generate word of mouth interest. Post your flyer on local bulletin boards. Ask your employer if you can post something in your break room, on your Intranet or in an employee newsletter. Consider a small For Sale sign in a back car window.

Flyers should include year, make, model, mileage, color, condition of tires, service history, accident history, upholstery and any other relevant details – be thorough. All your communication should include your price so that you only get serious buyers.

Show it off.

Prospective buyers will want to see the car. For safety reasons, meet people in a public place and bring a friend. You may also consider clustering the showings together to simplify your effort.

If you’re worried about getting your car ready, meeting people to test drive, or the paperwork involved, consider using a car selling lot. A car selling lot will host your car for a monthly fee to be seen, driven and eventually sold. You’ll pay them a commission for the service, typically a flat fee on top of the monthly lot cost, but you won’t have to worry about the details. The additional cost might give you peace of mind.

Make it official.

Accept only cashier’s checks (look for security features like watermarks in the paper stock) or certified checks for the full amount. Put together a bill of sale for both you and the buyer. Include your names, addresses and phone numbers, vehicle make, model and year, vehicle identification number (VIN), mileage, sale price, form of payment, statement that car is being sold “as is” without any guarantee or warranty, unless you’ve arranged otherwise, buyer’s and seller’s signatures and the date. As an added precaution, meet at the bank or call the bank to confirm they issued the check to the buyer.

Be prepared to deliver the pink slip when you accept the money Buyers will want to walk away with it. Transfer your title with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and then double check that you’re not on the title anymore. The DMV will give you state-specific information about license plates and registration.

Plan ahead, be prepared and good luck!

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