Tips for selling a used car
So, you’ve decided to sell your used car. Maybe it’s too small for your growing family, maybe you’re tired of the repair bills, or perhaps it’s just time for an upgrade. Whatever the reason, here are some tips to help you sell your used car quickly and for a fair price.
1. Find out what your car is worth
Do your research and make sure your listing price is competitive. Consider the factors that impact vehicle value before you set the price. It’s usually the first thing car shoppers look for, and if your car is priced higher than others that appear comparable, you risk having buyers skip your advertisements completely without digging deeper to determine what’s behind the price tag. On average, Canadian vehicles sell for 8% below listing price, so find out what comparable vehicles are actually selling for – not just what they’re listing for.
2. Be a used car expert
Build trust with potential buyers by providing all the information they need to know about the vehicle. They’ll want to know about its history, and you can show them you have nothing to hide by providing a CARFAX Vehicle History Report.
If your vehicle has been in an accident, this is a great opportunity to highlight that it’s been properly repaired and is safe to drive. Show the customer the CARFAX report and encourage them to bring it with them when they go for a pre-purchase inspection. The mechanic can confirm that the vehicle is in safe working order and you can prove to your customer that you’re a transparent seller.
3. Post a great used car listing
Most used car shoppers use online listing sites to search for their perfect vehicle, so make sure your vehicle is listed on these sites, and that your listing is creative, fun and comprehensive. Include quality photos of the car, and consider telling the vehicle’s story in an entertaining way to generate interest.
It’s also important to ensure your listing includes all the information shoppers are looking for. After all, if the listing above yours has the info and yours doesn’t – which do you think the buyer will act on? A recent study has shown that many online car shoppers will disqualify a vehicle listing if it doesn’t include a vehicle history report, so make sure you include that too. Does it come with winter tires? Winter mats? Any add-ons? Mention any detail that could help set your car apart from others like it.
4. Get your car ready to sell
Clean your car – and not just the outside! Yes, an external cleaning is important as every vehicle looks better when it’s nice and shiny – but don’t forget the interior. Wash those floor mats and cup holders, vacuum between the seats and shine those windows, inside and out. Empty out your backseat and trunk – it’ll make your car look and smell better for you and any potential buyers.
5. Visit your mechanic
Consider taking your car to a mechanic for a quick inspection before you hang up the “For Sale” sign. They can tell you if there are any issues that need attention. If your buyer chooses to pay for their own pre-purchase inspection, this will give you a heads-up on what the buyer’s mechanic will find.
If your mechanic does find serious problems, then you’ll want to weigh out the cost and benefits of fixing them – will it help you make the sale or does it make more sense to sell the vehicle as is? If you choose not to fix it, get an estimate from the mechanic so you can let the potential buyer know how much money they’ll need to put into the car, and consider this amount when you set your selling price. The same applies to any damage you have on the outside of the car and the bodywork required to fix it.
You can also ask your mechanic to give the car a quick tune-up. Get them to check all your fluids and filters (oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze/coolant, radiator coolant, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid and power steering fluid) to see if they need to be changed or topped up. Other areas to check include your brakes, hoses or belts under the hood and your tire pressure.
6. Get the paperwork ready
Potential buyers will want to know how well the vehicle was maintained and serviced while it was under your ownership. Gather any service or maintenance records you have so they are easily accessible if someone asks to see them. If you’ve been the one doing the regular oil changes and tune-ups, let them know how often you serviced the vehicle and what type of oil you used.
You should also put together notes on how you used the vehicle. The buyer will want to know what type of driving the car went through (ie. highway vs city) and how much mileage was put on the car annually. It will also help to have the owner’s manual handy along with extra keys and any other documents related to the car.
7. Don’t forget the little extras
Think like a buyer and go out of your way to make examining your car simple and easy. Dig out the backseat seatbelts from between the seats and move the driver and passenger seat position back so it’s easy to get in and out of the vehicle. Lubricate the door and trunk hinges to quiet that annoying creak. Get rid of any window or bumper stickers or personal touches you’ve added to the car.
The rules and regulations around finalizing a private used car sale in BC differs from other provinces, and you can find out what the requirements are where you live here.
Selling a used car usually comes down to price and condition, but going through these steps to make sure the vehicle is in tip-top shape before you list it can help make the process quicker and easier for both you and the buyer.
For more information about selling a used car, check out CARFAX’s free Used Car Selling Guide.