Top 5 Tips for Selling a Used Car

By Mary Richardson , last updated November 3, 2011

There are many approaches to selling a used car, but the following 5 tips are highly effective. Use them to save time in advertising, showing your vehicle to potential buyers, and negotiating over price. There's no reason selling a used car should be stressful. These tips will earn you a great sale.

Do Your Research

Before advertising your car, research its value. This is an important step in getting the price you want and steering away potential buyers who aren't prepared to pay you its actual worth. Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds maintain websites where you can easily enter information about the make, model, and condition of your car for a current estimate of its resale value.

Advertise Online

To draw a large customer base, advertise your car online. Local websites such as Craigslist.com allow you to post information and upload photos. Other sites such as Carsdirect.com, Autotrader.com, and Cars.com also let you advertise your car, but they are accessed by a much larger audience. Never limit your range, as some buyers are actually willing to travel from out of state for the right car.

When writing a description, emphasize its strong points such as mileage, safety reports, and running condition. Mention recent maintenance you've done. If the car has never been in an accident, state that directly. Post flattering pictures of your car looking clean and tidy.

While many sellers advertise the car at a specific price, they sometimes write "or better offer" to indicate price is negotiable. This approach may draw in more interest, but it could also result in low ball offers that waste your time. You should expect to negotiate to some degree, but it may be counterproductive if you seem too eager or flexible upfront.

Prepare Maintenance Records

Go to the website www.autocheck.com, enter your car's VIN #, and print off a report of your car's history. This report provides information about mileage and accident status. Showing it to potential buyers reveals you are an honest and trustworthy seller.

In addition, compile a folder of your car's maintenance records such as oil changes and other routine checkups to show buyers. This indicates that you've taken good care of the car.

Prepare Your Car

Consider having a mechanic assess problem areas in your car. Potential buyers will most likely want to take your car for a test drive, and if the clutch sticks or the engine sputters, you can be sure they'll be turned off. While you may not be willing to do serious repairs before you sell, you might consider dropping the asking price for an interested party.

At the least, get your car washed and waxed. Vacuum out the inside and replace broken items. Used car buyers are likely to be very picky when it comes to the car's appearance.

Negotiation

Expect the buyer to negotiate the price. If you've done your research, you can be comfortable turning down a low ball offer. Don't lose out on your investment just because a customer doesn't think the price is worth it.

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