Most people make the mistake of believing that a car is an asset – it isn’t. Or it’s a rapidly depreciating asset at best. Yes, it is expensive and yes, you can get some money from selling it. But it is extremely unlikely that it will ever be worth what you paid for, much less appreciate in value. Although some cars do become classics and eventually regain and even exceed their original sticker price, you’d have to keep your car in mint condition, and in truth, you’d have to have a pretty special vehicle to begin with. Your average Ford truck or Toyota sedan are not likely to become a classic any time soon. But the assumption that a vehicle is a valuable asset is only the first mistake most people make. And when it comes time to sell your car or truck you may stumble upon several other blunders that leave you with even less money than you should get from the sale of your automobile. Here are just a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
- Failing to consider all options. Some people feel like trading in an older vehicle for a new one is the only way to go. After all, it will help to knock down the purchase price of your new car, perhaps significantly. Right? In truth, you’ll nearly always get more money from a private sale for a couple of reasons. First, dealers know exactly what your car is worth, as well as how much they can likely sell it for, so they are going to lowball you. They also know you want a new car and they’ll use every trick in the book to convince you that you need the new vehicle more than you need a fair price on trade-in. A private sale, on the other hand, will likely involve a person who is actually going to drive the car, thus turning the tables in your favor. And while a dealer will check vehicle reports, most individuals buying a used car are more likely to take your word for it. The point is that you have a better starting point for negotiations when you make a private sale, so don’t discount the possibility.
- Making repairs. You might think that your vehicle has to be in perfect condition to sell, but this is patently untrue. For one thing, there are no lemon laws for used cars. An unsatisfied party could still sue you after the fact, but you aren’t breaking any laws by selling a car or truck that needs repairs. That said, you’re better off being up front about some issues (especially those that could hinder safety) at the time of sale. But there’s absolutely no reason you can’t sell “as is”. Even if you take less money as a result, you’ll come out ahead thanks to the money you didn’t spend on repairs.
- Dirty car. When you advertise an automobile for sale, you not only have to make yourself available to show it, but it should be in show-worthy condition. While you don’t necessarily have to make major repairs, you’re bound to get a better price if your car is presentable. So wash it, wax it, and clean the interior to the best of your ability.
- Bad listings. Whether you list your vehicle on CarMax or TruckerClassifieds.com, you need to make sure that you compile a good listing. You should include pertinent information like make, model, year, and mileage, as well as any extras you’ve added (LoJack, nav, or Bluetooth, for example). And you should include plenty of photos. Think about what you might want to see or know when you’re looking for a car; others want the same.
- Poor negotiations. The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to selling your car is failing to negotiate. Whether you take the first offer that comes along, even though it’s less than you wanted, or you stick firm to your asking price despite a decent offer, you’re making a classic blunder. You need to set a bottom line and then ask for more so that you have the option to negotiate. If you’re lucky, you’ll get more than your lowest acceptable price and the buyer will walk away feeling like he got a good deal in the process.