What to Disclose When Selling a Used Car

By: Staff Writer July 22, 2012
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After cleaning your used car in preparation for selling it, you now must decide how much information to disclose when talking with prospective buyers. This conversation can make or break auto sales.

To help with your sales pitch, consider the following advice:

  • Be honest. A potential buyer can verify if you're being up front or trying to hide flaws though a car history report or by having it inspected by a certified car mechanic.
  • You don't have to disclose every flaw. It's not your responsibility, but if the buyer asks, tell the truth.
  • If the car is say 20 years old, the prospective buyer is expecting flaws. Don't be afraid to reveal that you recently replaced the radiator or that the air conditioning is on the blink. If the car is old, the buyer is obviously in the market for a beater, comfortable with the idea of mechanical imperfection.
  • Be prepared to answer, "Why are you selling it?" Have an honest answer that favors the positive over the negative. Saying, "I'm looking to upgrade" is far more favorable than, "Six times in the last month I had to hitchhike home from work after the car conked out on me."
  • If you do hide potential mechanical problems that eventually surface after selling the car, you're not required by law to provide legal compensation (Lemon Laws only apply to dealerships selling new or used cars). You freed yourself from all responsibility once you handed over the car's title. The buyer, however, can make your life hellish with repeated phone calls asking for money, or even using social media outlets to denigrate your name.

Information You MUST Disclose When Selling a Car

In most states you, by law, must disclose whether the vehicle has been:

  • Salvaged.
  • Damaged in a flood.
  • Rebuilt.

In all three scenarios, this information should be stamped or marked on the title either as salvaged or rebuilt. This, at the very least, protects you from any potential down-the-road charges from the buyer that you concealed damage information.

Do you have any experience selling your cars? Share your insight on what information you disclose when selling a car with our online community by leaving your wisdom below in our comment section.

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