Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Car

Selling your used car or truck can be tricky business. With the numerous car-buying sites available via the Internet, buyers have lots of options to choose from—and if you don't do things right, it'll be easy for your car to get lost in the shuffle.

Check out these mistakes to avoid when selling your vehicle to ensure a fast and safe transaction.

Inaccurate Price Listings

Nothing will discourage a buyer more than a listing that's priced too high. Conversely, if you list your car too low, you'll be missing out on profit.

In order to get fair value for your vehicle and to attract serious customers, use a credible pricing guide to find out what your vehicle is worth. A few legitimate sources you can use include:

Incomplete Description

Having a sound knowledge base of your vehicle is a must when you decide to sell. If you aren't sure of the details, make sure you find out before you decide to list your car online.

An inaccurate or incomplete description will turn off many potential buyers. A good description with all the essential information is sure to leave a good first impression, and will help you sell your vehicle faster.

You'll want to be sure to include information such as:

  • Mileage.
  • Vehicle's condition.
  • History of accidents.
  • Modifications.
  • Recent repairs.
  • VIN number.
  • Number of owners.

Poor Vehicle Condition

The condition of your vehicle can be misconstrued by a dirty exterior or interior. It will also leave the impression that you haven't properly cared for your vehicle, which will be a turn-off to some buyers.

To increase the value of your vehicle and attract buyers, make sure you:

  • Detail the exterior of the vehicle, such as:
    • A new coat of wax.
    • Clean rims and tires.
  • Vacuum the floor, seats, and trunk.
  • Empty ashtrays.
  • Wash windows inside and out.
  • Wash or replace floor mats.

Unflattering or Incomplete Photographs

The best time to take pictures of your vehicle is right after you've cleaned it. Remember that good pictures are what will attract buyers, so make sure you take plenty of shots from multiple angles to post online.

A few shots you'll want to be sure to get include:

  • All sides of the vehicle's body.
  • The interior of the front and back seats.
  • Trunk.
  • Wheels.
  • Engine.

A Bad (or Nonexistent) Sales Pitch

Like a salesman at a dealership, you'll need to be proactive when speaking with interested buyers. By preparing a pitch, you'll be more likely to sell your vehicle than you would be without one.

Before a potential buyer heads over for a test drive, make sure you:

  • Research any benefits associated with your specific vehicle.
  • Know the fuel economy.
  • Are aware of any recalls associated with the vehicle.
  • Know the affordability of replacement parts.
  • Get the performance specifications of the engine.
  • Have knowledge of the vehicle's reliability and safety features.

Forgetting Service Records

If you've kept up with scheduled maintenance, it will increase the value of your vehicle. If you have the service records, don't forget to show potential buyers the receipts for proof. Though some vehicle history reports will provide some of this information, it's best to keep your own records just in case.

Remember that when you provide the buyer with copies of your maintenance records during a sale, you'll also need to black out any personal information with a marker to avoid identity theft.

Missing Paperwork

Signing over the title isn't the only paperwork you'll need to complete when you sell a car. Depending on your state, you may be required to provide other documents to the buyer for them to submit to the DMV; similarly, you may need to submit proof that you are no longer in possession of the vehicle.

Some of these documents include, but are not limited to:

  • A bill of sale.
    • Provide two copies—one for you and one for the new owner.
  • Release of Liability.
    • This will protect you from damages or violations incurred by the new owner once you hand over the keys.

Being Naïve to Fraud

Giving in to the demands of a dishonest buyer can be trouble. To avoid the pitfalls of fraud, here are a few basic tips to remember.

  • Avoid checks if possible.
    • It can take several days for a check to clear. Never sign the title before you have the money in hand.
  • Don't agree to monthly payments.
  • Meet in a public location for test drives.
    • Always ask for a driver's license.
    • Bring someone you know with you if you're concerned for safety.
  • If you agree to use an escrow service, make sure to research its legitimacy beforehand.
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