How to Sell Your Used Car
Want to guarantee your used car will sell? Want it gone with as few problems as possible? Want to get your asking price? Here is the best guide to selling your used car by Howie from Howie’s Car Corral, a legend in Victoria for being the man in the know when it comes to used cars.
Prepare Your Car for Sale
- First impressions are everything. Before you take pictures and offer to show your vehicle to a potential buyer, make sure your vehicle is neat in appearance. Clean up the interior and exterior and remove any personal belongings. If you can afford to, a professional detail job can cost you $200-$300, but the return can be much greater.
- In order to overcome objections from a potential buyer, make sure your vehicle is up-to-date on maintenance. Selling a car with a check engine light, ABS light, dirty oil, air filter, etc., can be difficult (unless it’s being sold as parts, or a mechanics special). A car that needs a bunch of work right off the bat will only get you disappointing offers, if any at all. A good idea is to have a repair facility (preferably one you know) do a pre purchase inspection on your car so you that you know what is needed and can pass this onto a potential buyer.
- Do you know the complete history of the car you’re selling? It’s a question any knowledgeable buyer will ask. ICBC and CARFAX can provide vehicle history searches for any vehicle. CARFAX will search data bases across Canada and the U.S. for accident claims, liens, import records, etc. There is a fee for these services, however they are helpful in answering the tougher questions buyers will ask.
- Make sure your vehicle is insured so it can be test driven.
Marketing your Vehicle
- Establish a market value. The internet is the best place to determine an asking price for your vehicle. Sites like autotrader.ca, your local used.ca, etc., all have thousands of cars for sale at any time. Simply search for your vehicle in your region and look at all the comparisons, paying attention to mileage, options, and years. You will find a low to high price range. Based on all the comparisons you find, you should be able to come up with an asking price. If your car originated in Ontario, and has had a couple accidents, then it should be priced on the lower side. Whereas if your car is immaculate with low mileage and great history, it can be priced on the higher side. Allow for a little wiggle or haggling room on your price, people like to negotiate when purchasing vehicles. For example, if your bottom line is $7,500, do not ask $7,500 for it, ask for up to $7,900.
- Place your ad. Write a well-written, and descriptive ad explaining all the features and options of your vehicle. Take a few pictures, preferably in a location that will not hinder the photo quality (avoid underground parkade, dark and dreary day, or in a location where there are lots going on in the background). You want people to focus on the car, not on the background. Be sure to include all your contact info. Some people still like to pick up the phone, as well as email or text. A good old-fashioned ‘For Sale’ sign in the window is also a good idea. The more people you can expose the vehicle to, the more success you will have in finding a buyer.
- Now that your ads are up, you simply play the waiting game. How long of a wait? It could take a couple of weeks, or it could take 30 minutes, that’s the reality of the market. If your ads are up for a week with no interest or inquiries whatsoever, then you need to look at your pricing. Perhaps you were too aggressive off the bat, or you could be selling a vehicle that is common and the competition is greater.
Presenting the Vehicle
- Your ads are generating some leads and you have potential buyers coming over. Do not just throw them the keys and say, “it’s over there”. Someone needs to sell your vehicle, and who better than YOU, as the owner? Do a good thorough walk around, explaining all the features. You will hopefully have a recent inspection report and history report to present and perhaps you have retained all the service history records as well. This goes a long way in a buyer’s eyes because they are not left thinking that maybe this car needs lots of work.
- Offer to take the buyer for a test drive. Yes, go with them. Why would you hand the keys to your vehicle over to a complete stranger? Be prepared to answer lots of questions and perhaps deal with a couple of objections. Used cars aren’t perfect, and that noise your car makes when you turn left at 40 km/h may not be of any concern to you because it’s done it for three years, but to a buyer, that noise could be a deal breaker. The same could be said about the engine and other system malfunction lights. Nothing turns off a buyer faster than having noticeable faults.
Making Your Deal
- Assuming that the presentation and test drive went well, the buyer will likely want to talk about a final price, and from this point, it’s all about getting a fair deal that works for both parties. Generally, the buyer makes the offer, and you, the seller, can accept or counter. I say generally because sometimes buyers are too afraid to make an offer, and this comes from inexperience and fear on their part. Perhaps they didn’t do as much homework as you in this process and they need to study the market for themselves. You, the seller, may need to start the negotiation, and your knowledge of the market should give you the confidence in getting the price you are asking.
- Negotiating could go on for a few minutes or even a few days. Sometimes parties never agree on a price and that’s when you just move on to the next buyer. Is it true that the first offer is the best offer? Sometimes. The point is, if you’ve done your due diligence on the market and haven’t overpriced your vehicle, you should be able to get close to your asking price. Once you have established a selling price acceptable to both parties, you may be faced with conditions such as; the buyers need to talk to their bank for financing, the buyers may want to have the vehicle inspected, or simply want to take a day to think about it.
Finalizing the Deal
- You have an interested buyer and you’ve settled on a price. Now, it’s just down to the transfer of ownership and acceptance of payment. I would suggest dealing in cash or certified bank draft only (even bank drafts can be fake so you must take caution) but at this step of the process the buyer has developed a bit of a relationship with you and there should be no red flags. Ask for a person’s ID and write down the full name, current address and drivers license number (No ID? No Deal!). You will need this information on the transfer papers anyway. This move alone will separate the scammers from the real people. You then need to give the buyer the vehicle’s registration along with a signed APV9T transfer form. On private sales the buyer is responsible for paying the 12% sales taxes at the time of ownership transfer. Congrats! You have now sold your car.
I owe Money on my Car I’m Selling
- If you are selling a car with a lien on it, it’s your responsibility to provide clear title to the buyer. If you are in a position where you owe less than the selling price, it’s pretty easy. Pay off the loan with the proceeds of the sale and have the bank issue you a letter of release stating they have no further interest in the vehicle. If you are in a negative equity situation where you owe more than the car sold for, you may not get the release from the bank, and it could kill your deal completely. If the latter is your situation, before you even market the car for sale, you need to talk to the bank and make sure they will release the lien for the selling price and make a side arrangement for the shortfall, all while providing clear title to the new buyer. Bottom line, do some legwork when dealing with liens. It’s common for later model cars to depreciate faster than the loans are being paid down. With all vehicles, depreciation is unavoidable, unless of course, you’re dealing with classics and collectibles.
Hopefully, these tips will be useful to anyone wanting to sell their car privately. You will be offered all kinds of crazy propositions, weird trades, email scammers, and people that say they will show up Friday at 8 pm only to never show up or even answer their phone when you call. You will have people offer you $4,000 when you are asking $8,000. You will have so-called experts calling themselves mechanics tell you everything is wrong with your car without ever sitting in it or driving it.
Just exercise patience and do your due diligence, and you’ll be just fine.
If you want to sell your used car directly to us, contact us below with the details.