Making The Most When Selling A Used Car

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You Don't Have To Sell Your Car For Peanuts

This isn't flipping vehicles for profit. Instead, it's about being able to get the most money for your used car as possible if you do decide to sell it. Selling your used car doesn't mean getting back a paltry sum of money in return. Instead, you can actually receive a fair and decent amount if you follow these steps.

Upgrade Its Appearance

No, this isn't referring to just picking up old wrappers that may still be located underneath a seat in your vehicle. Instead, you should think of your car as a house that you're listing on the real estate market. Just like you would make sure that the house appears to be in great condition, you should do the same with your car. Some of the things that you can do include making sure that:

  • Stains from seats and other cushions are removed
  • The floor mats are clean
  • The engine is decreased
  • The interior is shampooed
  • The exterior appears as new as possible

One quick way to do most of the above is through getting your car detailed. This can be done at many car wash locations or through other professional detailing surfaces. They can even remove some small scratches on the paint and in the interior and other imperfections. The cost will be worth it, as that will allow you to command a higher price for your vehicle.

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Repair What's Most Important

It can cost a decent amount of money to do, but you will need to make sure that the major flaws of the vehicle are fixed. You will need to make your car both APPEAR and RUN as new as possible if you expect to sell it for a good price. This can entail making:

Cosmetic Changes

  • Paint touch ups
  • Fixing dents
  • Replacing cracked windshields

Mechanical Repairs / Tuneups

  • Have your vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic
  • Replace old brakes
  • Fix transmission

Remember, you can't fix everything in your car, so try and choose the ones that make the most sense from a financial standpoint.

Determine Its Worth

You can't expect to sell a used car for an unrealistic price, no matter how long you decide to wait it out. Rather, you will need to make a listing price that takes into account its current condition, including how it runs, its appearance, the repairs that have been made to it, and the how long it has been used.

There are a variety of websites online that can help you to get an estimate of how much it's worth. Some of these are the following:

You will need to be prepared to answer information about the vehicle's mileage, condition, and so forth when checking out the aforementioned sites.

Will You Trade It In Or Sell It?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. As a general rule of thumb, the more money that you put into the car in order to fix it, the more you should think about selling it. In order to decide what to do, however, you should consider the following:

Dealer Options

  • You can trade it in directly to the dealer. This usually results in less money than selling it, but you will have the benefit of being able to complete this process extremely fast, often in the same day. Some states even offer nice sales tax credit for any trade-ins.
  • You also have the option of selling it to the car dealership. However, once again, you may be receiving less money if you choose to do this than if you were to sell it privately to a person.
  • Some dealerships also offer the option of acting as the middle man in selling your vehicle, in which they will take a commission or a set upfront fee.

Private Individual Option

  • This option will most likely give you the highest financial return, though it does have the drawback of requiring much more effort on your part. Yet, with the internet, it's an easier process than ever before. There are a variety of websites available where you can list your car for a price, which can then be negotiated, before agreeing to a final sale. Craigslist, eBay, and sites such as are all options.
  • You can also choose to auction off your car, such as on

*Make sure to meet individuals in public places. Limit the amount of personal information that you provide, such as your home address.

Gather The Important Papers

You will need to have the right paperwork ready when selling your used cards. Some of the papers that you will need are the title/registration, service records, and even a CARFAX Vehicle History Report in some cases (

Having these records will put the potential buyer at ease and will allow you to complete the sale much faster.

Be Truthful And Cover Yourself Legally

You will need to make the sale officially recorded if you decide to sell to an individual buyer. One of the things that you should always create is a bill of sale, which should include:

  • The make, model, and year of the vehicle
  • The agreed upon purchase price
  • The name of the seller and the buyer
  • The date the transaction was made

Make sure to make an extra copy for yourself, in which you both should sign it. In order to understand how to better prepare a bill of sale, you should visit the department of motor vehicles' website from the state in which the sale is made.

You will also need to transfer the title, a process that can change depending on the state that you live in. Once again, visit the relevant website for your state's department of motor vehicles.

*Make sure to only provide the keys and title after the check clears from the individual buyer or the payment has been received. Also, make sure that your car insurance is then canceled.

Of course, given how many sales are made online these days, you may possibly need to ship your vehicle. A-1 Auto Transport will make that part of the process as painless as possible!

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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