Try Selling Your Used Car Privately To Get Top Dollar

So despite the current economic turn down, you decide you’re in the market to purchase a brand new car. So your immediate thought is trading in your existing used car at the dealership. If you are short of time, or are okay to losing potentially hundred to thousands of dollars, then go ahead and exchange your existing car for a new one at the local dealership. If you do so, one advantage you have is you save on the trade in portion of the sales tax. So say if you receive a $2000 trade in for your old car, you will save as much as $160 based on an 8% sales tax rate. But if the same $2,000 trade in can be sold privately for $3,000, wouldn’t you want to make that nice additional chunk of change?

If you are interested in getting that extra $1,000 in your pocket, the first step is researching for the true fair market value of your used car using a site such as Enter all the details of your vehicle, including the features, mileage, location and overall body shape to obtain an accurate trade-in figure. Make sure you get a printout of the page including the estimated price. Once you have all the details of your car, this is the estimated market value of your vehicle based on the price that sellers in your area are willing to pay. The price is based on a private sale only.

Now contact your local newspaper or online classifieds and buy a classified ad in the automotive section, preferably on a Sunday. Some papers will extend your ad for an additional week or so for a nominal charge, or even for free if the vehicle is not sold. Give the exact details such as: the make, model, the year, exact mileage, engine size, etc. Also check out online car sales sites such as and Get the title of your car paperwork and keep it handy so you can access it easily if a prospective buyer wants to buy the car immediately.

Before you put it up for sale, make sure you give it a through cleaning, both the interior and exterior. Remove every thing from the trunk and the back seats and floor. The car should only have the floor mats. Make sure the spare tire has air in it and is secured properly in the truck with the jack in place. Don’t spend any more money on fixing any mechanical and electrical repairs, unless it’s minor such as replacing a fuse or a bulb etc.. Also take the car for a quick oil change and top up the other fluids. Most of these quick oil services will also top up your anti-freeze, transmission and power steering fluids etc. Make sure your tires are inflated to the proper recommended level.

When any prospective buyers call you, answer all questions about your vehicle honstly. Try to make appointments at specific times, don’t be vague like, “come after work”. Instead setup an exact time like 6PM, and get their cell phone number if possible. Try to get the buyer to come during the day when its light out and not at night. However, there’s no point getting upset if the prospective buyer does not show up on time or shows up at all. Remember that a the prospective buyer is your customer and… “the customer is always right.”

Before you allow the buyer to take the car for a test drive, check his or her driver’s license for validity. Accompany the buyer during the test drive and also direct the buyer on where to go. Don’t allow the potential buyer to take the car wherever they want. When negotiating the price, try to be as flexible as possible. Depending on the market resale value of your car, you should be able to swing a couple of hundred dollars or more less than your advertised price. Accept only cash or registered, certified checks.


If you receive inquires from prospective buyers from the online advertisement, be cautious. There are a lot of scams online. If the potential online buyer proposes to send you a certified or registered check, car unseen, for more than the asking price, you know it is definitely a scam. The check is most likely forged and they will take your money and run.

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