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4 Important Things to Do Before Selling Your Car

Want to sell your car fast and for a good price? Then check out the four essential steps you should take, as well as how to prepare the car for sale.
Stephanie Lawrence
Stephanie Lawrence
01/02/2023 · 7 min read
4 Important Things to Do Before Selling Your Car 4 Important Things to Do Before Selling Your Car 4 Important Things to Do Before Selling Your Car

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No matter how much you may like the car you currently have, there will most likely come a time when you will need to sell it.

Most standard cars last around 200,000 miles or 12 years and will start to run into serious issues afterward. And if you want to get a reasonable sale price and generate interest from potential buyers, it's better to sell your car while it's still in good shape at the time of sale.

But when you decide to get rid of your current car, you may need guidance on what steps to take to make it happen.

So, how to sell your car for a fair market price and without issues with title transfers?

Let's explore the most important things you should consider below.

4 Things to Do Before you Sell Your Car

When figuring out how to sell a car, there are a few steps you need to take that will help avoid issues and give you the best chance of making the sale, no matter the current market conditions.

Let's look at the steps that will help you in the process of selling your car.

Find the Paperwork

Selling your car without the proper paperwork, such as the vehicle title, will be much more complicated. And if you're selling the car for someone else, you will need to have the paperwork if you want to have any chance of the sale going through.

Therefore, before starting your search, you need to perform a thorough inventory and collect all the necessary paperwork that you'll need for the sale to go through.

To increase the car's value, you should also find all service history documents that can help show the future owner what you've done to the vehicle over the years. That can help put you in a better negotiating position and increase the amount you can get through a private sale.

Look into the Market

Figuring out how much to charge for motor vehicles is not easy, especially if you aren't experienced in selling cars and don't typically have to deal with figuring out fair market rates for different types of vehicles.

That's why one of the first steps you should do to figure out how to sell your car for a reasonable price is to look at how much similar cars are going for in the market today. Although many factors influence a car's price, its make, model, and year are a baseline that will at least provide you with a rough range of prices you could potentially ask for.

You can then use that range as a guide when you consider your car's unique features, its condition, and the problems the new owner will have to deal with.

Inspect Your Car

Whether you like it or not, a prospective private buyer will likely want to perform a pre-sale inspection to ensure there are no hidden issues with your car that would require repairs, serving as an additional cost to the buyer. And while you could allow the buyer to discover the actual condition and problems with the car on their own, that would put you at a disadvantage from a negotiation perspective, as learning about unexpected problems would damage the buyer confidence.

Therefore, it's usually better to inspect the car so that you can either fix issues or make them known to prospective buyers beforehand. That way, private buyers will know what to expect, and the price you list will be closer to what they are willing to pay as they show up for an in-person vehicle inspection.

What's more, by addressing some of the issues that are easier or more affordable to fix, you can make your car more appealing because the new owner won't have to deal with them on their own.

Figure Out a Sales Method

One of the biggest problems when selling a car is finding the right buyer. You can sometimes spend weeks trying to find an interested party, and other times even people who show interest aren't really a good fit to buy the vehicle you're trying to sell.

Because of that, one of the most crucial aspects of selling your car is figuring out which sales method works best in your situation. And the good news is that there are a few options you can choose from, each offering unique benefits that can be appealing in different situations and depending on your priorities.

The first route when selling your car is to list it on your social media, informing your friends, family, and acquaintances that you want to get rid of your vehicle and asking if anyone would be interested. On one hand, this can be appealing because it requires the least amount of work, and there's a built-in trust factor because you're selling to someone who knows you.

However, finding interested buyers in such a small pool might not always be realistic and will often come down to chance.

Then, you can list your car on private sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, where people in your area can find it through a search. This method can be effective if you research how much to charge, write an appealing ad, and take the time to field offers until you find the right buyer.

The problem is that you may have to spend weeks dealing with different people, unreasonable offers, last-minute ghosting, and other frustrating situations.

The third and most convenient option is to sell your car to a reputable junk car buyer. These types of professional buyers specialize in buying cars in absolutely any condition and have a refined process that allows going through the sale in a matter of days or even hours.

After sharing some basic information about your car, you can get an instant cash offer for your vehicle. And if you accept the offer, you can start arranging for the car to be picked up in a matter of hours.

How to Prepare Your Car for Selling

Some of the most frequently asked questions about selling scrap cars and other motor vehicles are how much you can get for them, where to sell them, and how to get the best offer from a private party buyer. But just as importantly, as a vehicle owner, you need to know how to prepare your car for selling so that you put yourself in the best position to go through the process without a hitch.

Let's look at a few simple steps you can take to prepare your car for sale quickly.

Clean Your Car

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When selling your car, first impressions matter. In fact, they can sometimes play a deciding role in whether a prospective buyer likes the car and is willing to pay the asking price, even considering its imperfections.

And that's why one of the best things you can do to dramatically boost your chances of success is to thoroughly clean and wash your car before taking pictures for the ads or showing it to buyers. A nice, clean-looking vehicle on the inside and out will make a big difference to how it will be perceived and whether it can generate excitement for the buyer.

Even two virtually identical cars can go for completely different prices based only on how they look during the inspection. For example, a dusty, dirty car that's full of garbage inside will sow doubt even in the most enthusiastic buyer. Meanwhile, if your car is shiny and has a clean interior, even an older vehicle can look nice and make an excellent first impression.

Fix Minor Problems

One of the main reasons people sell cars in the first place is that they no longer want to deal with expensive repairs, which tend to become more frequent as the vehicle gets older. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't at least evaluate your car's issues and consider which ones would be an easy and inexpensive fix before selling.

Removing at least a few problems the new owner will have to deal with can make the car much more appealing and show that you took the time to prepare the vehicle for sale. You can even emphasize the recent part replacements or improvements in the description, helping your listing stand out and generate more attention.

Consider What You'll Do After the Sale

Finally, you must consider what will happen once the sale is finalized. For example, if you use the car you're selling to get around, you will need to figure out how to replace the car by either going to a motor vehicle dealer, using a temporary replacement vehicle or going on the ads sites and exploring the thousands of cars available for sale in your area.

There are many possible paths you could take, and the only important thing is to have a plan so that you're able to get around after you suddenly sell your car.

Bottom Line

Selling your car can seem like a long and complicated process you don't want to go through. But with a bit of preparation and an understanding of how to sell faster and for a better price, you can avoid most of the problems novice car sellers face.

By finding the paperwork, such as the certificate of title, understanding market conditions, inspecting your car for glaring issues, and ensuring your vehicle is clean, you will already be ahead of most online sellers, generating plenty of interest for your car, no matter its condition.

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