The Best Way to Sell a Car

Buying cars is hard enough. Selling an existing vehicle beforehand adds a whole extra layer of complications.

More Money and Fewer Hassles

Before buying cars, most drivers have to sell their old ones. The process can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Find out how to sell a car in seven simple steps.

Step One: Gather Documents and information.

The first step is to gather documents. Whether car owners decide to sell their cars to dealerships, trade them in, or go through the extra work to facilitate a private sale doesn’t matter. They’ll still need to have basic documents and information on hand.

Sellers should expect to provide important information like the vehicle identification number, current mileage, and lienholder information if they have active loans. Now is also the time to gather documents like the registration, title, and bill of sale.

Step Two: Determine the Vehicle’s Worth

Use the VIN and other essential info like the make, model, and trim level to determine how much the car is worth. Most dealers have free vehicle valuation tools that will offer information about what drivers can expect to get for their cars both in an outright sale and as a trade-in.

Step Three: Prepare the Car for Sale

The work required to complete this step varies depending on how car owners want to sell their cars. Even if they plan to trade them in, cleaning the interior, vacuuming the upholstery, and washing the exterior are good practices.

For private sales, sellers can expect the bar to be much higher. Most people who plan to buy cars will not spend serious money on one that’s in a state of disrepair. Most car owners have their vehicles professionally detailed before placing them up for sale.

Step Four: Find a Buyer

This step can be as easy or hard as sellers make it. Finding a buyer in a private sale is difficult. Finding a dealership that will offer a fair price for a vehicle is much easier.

Step Five: Work Out the Details

Once car owners have found qualified buyers, they can complete the sales. If that requires negotiation, plan on doing it in person. Sellers can tell buyers they are flexible on the price. Just don’t start the negotiation process online or by phone.

Step Six: Complete the Sale

When people buy cars, they expect the sellers to arrive with everything required to complete the sale. That usually includes a current title, vehicle registration, and bill of sale. Sellers who want to get the most for their vehicles should also be prepared to provide service records.

Dealerships typically take care of details like contacting lenders if drivers have car loans and helping them navigate the rest of the selling process. In private sales, the current owner takes care of all of that, including filing a notice of release of liability at the local DMV.

Why Do Things the Hard Way?

People often assume that private sales are the best way to get what a car is worth. Unfortunately, they’re not considering other facts. Private buyers have high expectations for things like detailing and complete service records.

Reputable dealerships offer fair prices without any of the hassles. While it’s true that sellers may not get as much money, those who plan to buy cars at the same time typically find that trading in their vehicles is the easiest option.


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