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Getting the Most Out of Selling a Car

courtesy of AutoTrader.com


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Online Car Sales

Selling My Car

Tips for Creating Online Ads when Selling a Car

Post quality photos. The picture you take of your car is the first and possibly only thing a potential buyer will see. Make sure you:

  • Photograph your car in daylight. Photos taken at night tend to make people think you're hiding visible defects.

  • Avoid reflections and shadows from the sun and trees.

  • Photograph your car from the corner of the front bumper. This angle gives a good view of the entire car.

  • Park your car against a flattering backdrop. People look at the entire photo, not just the car, so take your car to an empty, clean parking lot if necessary.

  • Ensure your car is clean and neat in appearance. Getting a $4 car wash before you take the photo can make a big difference.

  • Post multiple photos, which showcase any special features about your car.

Create interest with your ad details. The average shopper sees up to 5,000 marketing messages a day. Make sure yours stands out with the right details, and put the most important ones up front. Consider giving some of the following details:

  • Appeal to a buyer's lifestyle. For example, describe a van as a "great family car," an economy car as a "great commuter car," and a truck as a "dependable work truck."

  • Use key phrases that typically signal you've taken care of your car, like "one owner" and "maintenance records available." But be honest.

  • Mention any non-standard modifications and improvements, such as stereo, speakers and specialty wheels.

  • List any recent replacements, like new tires or battery.

Research the prices on similar cars so you'll know the value of your car when you advertise it for sale. It's important to price your car realistically when selling a car, because buyers will certainly be doing their research. Remember:

  • Price it too high, and buyers may not even look at your listing. Price it too low and buyers may think the low price means there's something wrong with the car.

  • Make sure you set a price within a realistic range. Set your price toward the lower end of the range if you're looking for a quicker sale or toward the higher end of the range if time is less important than getting the most money from the car. Pricing too far out of that range in either direction may mean you don't sell it at all.

Tips for Preparing Your Car for Sale

Get your car's appearance in great shape. Appearance is everything. That means you should thoroughly clean your car inside and out before having a potential buyer look at it. Your car might run perfectly and be in excellent mechanical condition, but you may turn off some buyers if your car has a dirty exterior, odd smells or a back seat crowded with old newspapers, animal crackers and other junk. Here's a laundry list of things you can do to improve your car's appearance when selling a car:

  • Wash, wax and vacuum your car.

  • Wipe down the dashboard and other surfaces.

  • Gloss up the tires and polish the wheels.

  • Clean all glass inside and out, including mirrors.

  • Clean out any junk from inside your car and the trunk.

  • Replace any burnt-out lights or fuses.

  • Top off the fluids.

Fix any small items that might reduce your car's value in a buyer's eye. In addition to cleaning up your car's appearance, consider any other maintenance issues that may need fixing. Is a brake light or headlamp out? Are the floor mats worn? Are there nicks or chips in the paint? Most of these items cost very little to repair, but from a buyer's perspective, even these little things can be enough to try and negotiate the price down.

Gather your car's repair records. Smart car shoppers want to know how well maintained your vehicle is and will ask for maintenance records. Being able to prove your car has had regular maintenance and that any potentially big ticket repairs or upgrades (new tires, new brakes, etc.) have already been made may allow you to command top dollar. Consider putting these records in a binder for easy review or scan them into an electronic form for easy sharing with potential buyers via email (just be sure to black out or otherwise obscure your address, credit card number and other sensitive information that may be on these documents).


For more information, visit AutoTrader.com.

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