Selling Your Car (The Right Way)

October 9, 2020

It’s no big secret that you can usually get quite a bit more money for your car by selling it yourself, rather than trading in to a dealer. However, it can also be a bit of a hassle. Taking photos and posting an ad on Facebook or Craigslist is the easy part. Managing the rest of the process, dealing with low-ball offers, and inviting strangers to your house can be enough to make anyone decide to take the easier and less stressful route of trading it in.

But if you truly want to get the most out of your car, selling it privately is the way to go. With that in mind, let’s look at ways to make sure your sales process goes as smoothly as possible.

First off, it is extremely important to accurately assess the condition of your car. You want it to look its best, and not show any obvious signs of neglect. Worn out tires, a cracked windshield, or crusty battery can all give the impression that your car hasn’t been cared for. Replacing these items before selling your car can help ensure you get the best price.

Wash your car and vacuum out the interior. Pro tip: don’t leave the hose and wash bucket next to your car while you take photos. The idea is to show a car that’s been kept clean, not one that only gets washed when it’s being sold.

When it comes to taking photos for your ad, it’s good to keep a few things in mind. Lighting is very important. If possible, you should take your photos in the early morning or evening when there isn’t a lot of glare from the sun. Finding a shady spot to park the car in works as well. Take plenty of shots from various angles. I like to start at the front of the car and work my way around it, showing all of the different angles. I then move to the interior and show the seats and carpeting, as well as the odometer reading. Showing the condition of the tires is a good idea, as well as detailed shots of any damaged areas. 

When writing up the ad, make sure you list the bad parts along with the good. You want the overall message to be positive, but also need to be up front with any items of concern. Most people who are buying a used car understand that it won’t be perfect, but also don’t want there to be any surprises.

After you post your ad and (hopefully) start getting inquiries, be aware that there may be some people who just want to see how cheap they can get it or otherwise end up wasting your time. You may also get inquiries from dealers who want to buy it for its trade value. Either way, it’s ultimately up to you how low you are willing to go on the price. Assuming you’ve priced it reasonably, there is no reason to accept the first low ball offer. Be patient and let the ad run for at least a week before making any price adjustments.

After you have snagged a potential buyer, they will likely want to take the car for a test drive. You will want to go along for the ride. Don’t just hand the keys over to a stranger and let them drive off with your car. A serious prospect might also insist on having a mechanic do a full inspection. This is perfectly acceptable and something that you will need to be agreeable with.

After you have made the deal with a buyer, you will need to make sure you have the title signed and notarized. Most states also require a bill of sale be filled out to make the transaction legitimate.

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If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is. It can also be very difficult to coordinate all of these steps around your already busy schedule. If you are interested in getting the most out of selling your car and don’t want to deal with the hassle, contact Clarity Automotive Group. We can help you beat the dealer’s trade-in offer while handling all of the steps for you, saving you time and frustration.

Clarity Automotive Group is your personal “Car Buying Advocate.” We assist our clients with navigating the complicated and often frustrating process of buying vehicles. We are based in Billings, Montana and also serve the surrounding areas of Bozeman, Miles City, Helena, Great Falls, and Lewistown, as well as Cody, Lovell, and Sheridan, Wyoming.

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