How to get the most money for your car


Whether your car has been a constant source of aggravation or your loyal companion, there comes a time to move on.

The pressures of selling a car can be stressful. The following tips should help you get the most for your used car and allow you to approach the sale with confidence.

Make it sparkle

Even if that shiny new car is within your sights or already in the driveway, it’s not time to neglect its predecessor quite yet. Taking a few hours to give your used car a thorough cleaning, both inside and out, can add hundreds of dollars to the buyer’s perceived value of the vehicle. If it appears as though the interior and exterior of the car have had little maintenance, the buyer may assume the same is true of the engine. First impressions can be everything.

Comparison shop

Shopping for a new car is exciting, but take some time to consider the older cars as well. Investigating how similar cars are selling is the key to determining a fair price and unloading the car quickly.

After you’ve got a general idea about the value of the car, it helps to compare prices locally. Car websites  are some of the best for local comparison shopping.

Gather records

It seems nearly every car owner makes an effort to keep all their maintenance records in one place but, inevitably, some of them slip through the cracks.

Before you start entertaining buyers, do your best to gather all the records you can find. Nothing scares away an interested buyer faster than the possibility of expensive repairs. Having proof that major repairs like the timing belt, clutch or water pump have been taken care of will help make the sale go smoother. Even routine oil change records can make a big difference in how much a buyer is willing to offer.

Do your homework

Sure, you’ve been driving the thing for years, but how much do you really know about your used car? Does it have anti-lock brakes? Front-wheel or rear-wheel drive? What’s the gas mileage? Research the important or desirable features of the vehicle to become an effective salesperson. A skim through the owners’ manual is a good place to find the answers.

Being aware of what buyers are looking for is critical to making the sale for a good price. There’ll probably be more demand for all-wheel drive cars in the months leading up to winter than at the start of summer.

Use your networks

Many of us advertise several times a day without even thinking about it. A Facebook post about a great dinner you had at a local restaurant or a Tweet about a good movie can work just as well as a 30-second commercial.

Posting a little information about the car you’re selling on these networking websites can be surprisingly effective. Often you’re dealing with people you know personally, so there’s a greater level of trust between seller and buyer.

Even a note card on the bulletin board at the office is a good way to get the word out.

Come prepared

My dad used to tell me, “A successful negotiation is when neither party is entirely satisfied with the deal.” Even though there’s some truth to Dad’s advice, a little preparation will help you feel satisfied after the deal is completed.

Knowing your limits and being confident about them are critical to a successful negotiation. Be aware of the lowest offer you would accept. Hesitation on a lowball offer indicates to the buyer they’ve got you on your heels. Be firm about what you want to get out of the vehicle.

Cash or certified check

When the deal is finally done, it’s time to make sure you get paid. Most people are generally trusting by their nature, but when you’re dealing with transactions for thousands of dollars, it’s OK to ask for a little security.

Accepting a personal check is just too risky when selling a car. If the check doesn’t clear the bank, you can be out a car and some serious dough. Insist that the buyer pay with cash or a certified check.

A certified check can be obtained from the buyer’s bank and guarantees that they have the funds available. If you’re dealing in cash, the Secret Service has a few tips on determining if bills are real or counterfeit.

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