Selling Your Old Car…
typically 10-20 percent difference between what a dealer will give
you for your old vehicle as a trade-in vs. its retail market value
i.e., what you could probably sell it for yourself. The dealers
not being cheesy. He will have to clean/prep your trade-in for sale
and often, perform whatever works necessary for the
car to pass both emissions and state safety inspections which
in some states is a legal requirement before a dealer can put your
old car on his lot to sell. All of that costs money, so dont
begrudge the dealer the 10-20 percent hes taking off the top.
If you want to keep that coin, then sell it on your own.
to that, of course, is that you have to sell it yourself.
And that means prepping the car for sale yourself, as well as dealing
with off-hour phone calls and interacting with strangers
some of whom may be sketchier than the people you sometimes see
on Jerry Springer.
Plus the attendant
never sold a car on your own before, here are some tips that may
drive around with a for sale sign (and your home phone
number) taped to the car
This can encourage
crimes of opportunity, especially if you are a woman. Instead, post
an ad in the local Auto Trader
or newspaper; CraigsList is
good, too (and free) provided you take a few precautions
such as screening people over the phone first (before you give them
your home address) or even better arranging to meet
them in a public place, such as the parking lot of a busy shopping
mall. If someone creeps you out over the phone, you can always just
tell them the car has already been sold.
the car objectively
If the car
has a bad transmission or needs brake work, tell prospective buyers.
If the car has any defect or problem that could make it hazardous
to operate, dont let unsuspecting people drive the vehicle.
You should have major, safety-related problems fixed before you
put the for sale ad up or clearly state in the
ad that the vehicle is not currently in operable condition, explaining
why. Playing fair is not only the morally right thing to
do its the practical thing to do because it
eliminates the danger of an irate sucker tracking you
down later to get even.
In court or
Ask to see
a drivers license and proof of insurance before you let a
prospect drive the car
Be sure to
write down the prospective buyers DL info and make
sure the person matches the description before turning over the
You want to
make certain the person is legally entitled to drive and
that if he wrecks your car, his insurance will pay for the
damages. If you let an unlicensed, uninsured driver operate your
vehicle and that person causes a wreck that ends up hurting or killing
someone else, you could be charged criminally and can expect to
be sued out the whazoo civilly.
sure the driver is at least 18-years-old. Never allow a minor
to drive your vehicle; if he or she wrecks the car or causes damages
to someone elses car, the under-18 driver may not be legally
responsible and youll be the one left holding th bag.
Insist that a parent be present before allowing a test drive.
sign or turn over the title and keys until youve got payment
in full in cash or its equivalent; no personal checks
Until you have
cash in hand, the car should not leave your driveway. Dont
agree to installment payments unless you live for hassles.
a simple bill of sale
state the make/model/year of the vehicle, the current mileage, the
sellers and buyers names, the sale price and
most important of all, that the vehicle is sold as is.
This last is important to protect you in case the buyer later claims
the car had some unknown/undisclosed problem and wants his
to remove your license plate(s) from the vehicle before the buyer
If you dont
and the buyer leaves the plates on, you could be liable for traffic
tickets, etc. that are tied into the plate number and to
you. Immediately notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (and your
insurance carrier) that the vehicle has been sold; this way, you
wont be charged for registration fees/property taxes and/or
insurance premiums that no longer apply. You may even be eligible
for a pro rata discount if you prepaid any of these fees for the
full calendar year.
If all this
seems like a hassle but you still want to get more money out of
your old car than you would by just trading it in, you may want
to consider a consignment lot to avoid all the hassles of selling
the car yourself. For a fee (either a flat fee or a percentage of
the sale price) the consignment lot will put the car on its lot,
show it to prospective buyers and handle all aspects of the transaction
including the paperwork/title transfer. You give them the
car and pick up a check when its sold.
decent middle-ground solution. You may get less than you would by
selling the car yourself but youll probably still end up with
more money in your pocket than youd have if you just traded
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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