Maybe you own a car that is several years old. It’s in pretty good shape, but you might have caught yourself dreaming about trading in the same-ol’-same-ol’ for something a little sexier. Or a vehicle that’s more practical. Or a car without a vomit-inducing color.
But maybe you’re telling yourself, “It’s just not the right time.” Well, here’s a news flash: now IS the right time to get rid of your old car! In fact, there has never been a better time in this millennium to sell your used vehicle! [Disclaimer: This is not a pitch by a dealer to get you to buy a car.]
An analyst with the National Automotive Dealers Association, the organization widely known for its “blue book” listing of used car values, says that prices for used vehicles are the highest they have been in the past 16 years. The average price that dealers are paying for a used vehicle is $11,660 – which is almost 30% higher than December of 2008.
There are several reasons for this phenomenon. Cars manufactured in recent years are better built, so they tend to last longer than those in the past. The average age of all vehicles on the road today is 10.6 years — compared to 9.8 about four years ago. Also, the federal government’s Cash For Clunkers program spurred many Americans to turn in their older vehicles and buy more fuel-efficient ones. The trade-ins involved with that program were not resold but were instead destroyed, leaving a shortage of used cars on the market. And as the supply of used cars decreases, demand (and prices) increase.
Now that you’ve got dollar signs in your eyes, let’s go over a few suggestions for successfully selling your used vehicle.
1. Clean it up. If car shoppers see a car that’s dirty on the outside, they may assume (rightly or wrongly) that it’s not well-cared for on the inside. So get the car cleaned and detailed, tidy up under the hood, pull out minor dents, touch up paint nicks, and repair windshield dings.
2. Know your options. You can put an ad in your newspaper to sell your car, but be aware that there are plenty of other choices. Like an auto-buyer’s publication. Or Craigslist. Or eBay Motors. Or a car dealer. Or a broker like CarMax.
3. Gather paperwork. Rummage through your attic or filing cabinets for all of the relevant documents related to your vehicle. This includes the title, purchase agreement, current registration, and repair records.
4. Know the ownership transfer process. Every state is a little different in terms of what is required for someone to sell a vehicle to a buyer. You may also have to pay sales tax to your state government. Check out your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (or similarly-named agency) website to obtain all of this necessary information.
5. Don’t lie. When dealing with potential buyers, be as honest as you can. Don’t try to cover up past repairs or current mechanical issues. At best, buyers who think they have been cheated in a deal can make your life quite miserable; at worst, you could be exposing yourself to criminal charges of fraud.
Which leads us to the best part of putting your used car up for sale: figuring out which sexy/practical/non-ugly vehicle to buy with the money!