Car Selling Tips from Experts

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Selling your used car has gotten considerably easier thanks to online car value calculators, online auto sales platforms, and quick and easy services such as Driveway that handles the entire process from beginning to end. But what about when you want to sell a car yourself? At Lithia Motors we have over 75 years of experience handling every aspect of personal transportation, from buying and selling to leasing and we know how to get the job done quickly and efficiently with a goal of keeping you as a customer for life. So, when it comes time to sell your car, we know about all the factors that come into play. As such, we have created this list of tips on how to make selling your vehicle easy.

Expert Advice

With nearly 300 dealerships across America and Canada, we asked our in-house experts to come up with their favorite tips for selling a car and then boiled them all down into this helpful article to get you on the road to selling your car. The following tips will help you streamline to process and help you get the most for your vehicle.
 
Keep in mind that used cars are fetching higher prices today and while conventional wisdom indicates that you might get more for your used car by selling it to a private buyer, car dealerships and online services such as Driveway may offer you more than you might think.
Tips from those in the know
To begin with, think about what attracts you to a car that you might want to buy. Take a look at used cars for sale here on our Lithia site. If you know the make and model of vehicle you are looking for, look at how the cars are presented and ask yourself what makes you excited about learning more about a particular car. Chances are that the same things which draw you in and make you want to buy are the same details that others will find enticing about your car.

When we are looking for a good used car, we all first look at the year, the make, the model, the mileage, and the price. We look at where the vehicle is located, and check out the photos of the car. The first thing that hits you is the condition of the car. We all want to buy a car that is as close to being a new car as possible. You look at the photos to see if there are any dents and dings. You are looking for clues that the vehicle has been properly cared for. All of this comes into play when you sell a car.

Spruce it Up

Take care of any noticeable dents, ding, or flaws in the paint. If a windshield is cracked, have it replaced. Make sure that the tires and windshield wipers appear to be like new. If the tires are badly worn, it shows potential buyers that you do not take proper care of the vehicle. How you maintain the car is a key element for buyers. A new set of tires changes the whole look of the car.
 
Another detail worth noting is the condition of the headlight lenses. Many cars have clear polycarbonate plastic headlight housings rather than glass. These get cloudy over time and look terrible. It is easy to buy headlight fog remover to make your headlights look like new.
On the inside of the vehicle, clean the interior and use a leather treatment if the car has leather seats. If the floor mats look shoddy, it is not expensive to replace them with new ones. Before anyone comes to look at your car, make sure any error code issues have been taken care of and that all the interior lights function. Under the hood, clean up the motor and use a cleaner such as Armor All to make the hoses look like new. It's all about the details. If you are having charging issues with the battery, replace it. You want the car to start and run perfectly for potential buyers.

Writing the Ad

The advertisement for your car should be short, sweet and attention getting. It should capture why we should choose your car over all others and do it in as few words as possible. Nobody wants to read some lengthy opus about the vehicle's history. If the car is "immaculate" it's okay to say so. If it has "low miles" it's okay to say that too. But be accurate and tell the truth. Place all of the vehicle's best attributes up front. If there are things that are wrong with the car, it's okay to disclose that as well. After all, this is a used car and people understand that it is not necessarily perfect. But you'll want to load the front of the ad with its best features.
 
Think about what you would most like to see in an ad for a car you might want to buy. It must come from a positive place and motivate you to learn more. For instance, an ad that says, "Immaculate, low mileage, Limited Edition BMW 3-series with heated leather seats, M Sport Package, excellent service records, new Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Flawless paint. A real head turner." This introduction to the car is short, sweet and makes you want to contact the seller to find out more. 

Keep your keywords upbeat and positive.
A word about Mileage
Cars that are four or five years old can easily give good service for 150,000 to 300,000 miles. For that reason, mileage is not as important when looking at a used car as it used to be. Many automakers today have a reputation for being extremely reliable. For instance, a good used Toyota or Honda that has been properly serviced may have plenty of miles to take you if you buy it with 50,000 on the clock. With that in mind, there is still a psychological barrier against used cars that are closing in on 100,000 miles. It is generally best to sell your car well before then.
Pricing the Car
Used car prices are very competitive these days but also unusually high due to a lack of cars in dealerships. Once you have researched the value of similar cars by year, make, model, trim level, and mileage, set your asking price $1,500 to $2,000 higher so you have some negotiation room with buyers. Because used cars are in high demand, never respond if a buyer asks you for your "best price." They may be wholesalers looking to "low ball" you. Likewise, stay away from negotiating price with potential buyers over the phone or by email. Insist that they come and see the car in person and perhaps give it a test drive.
Paperwork and Keys
Make sure all the paperwork for the car is all together and up to date before you list the car. This includes the vehicle title and registration, insurance card and information, extended warranty contract (if applicable), owner's manual, service history documents, state emissions check certificate, vehicle history report, keys, and electronic key fob. It is wise to change the batteries in the key fobs before you sell the car.
Summing it up
According to our experts, when selling a used car make sure to:
  • Have the vehicle properly serviced and keep a copy of your service record history.
  • Clean the car inside and out. Getting it detailed by professionals is a good idea.
  • Small improvements such as new tires can get you more for your old ride.
  • When making an ad take a lot of great photos of the car and write up an ad that captures attention.
  • Be honest about the car's condition.
  • Set your price a little high.
  • You'll get the best price on used cars with mileage between 40,000 and 70,000.
  • Add a little wiggle room to your asking price for the car.
  • Get all the paperwork and keys together.
Let Lithia Help
In the end, it can take a lot of time and effort to sell a car yourself and you may not get any more for it than if you took the quick and easy route of getting a vehicle value price quote from Lithia Motors. See our "value your trade-in" calculator here. You might be surprised at how much you can get for your used car.