How do I get my car ready to sell?

Getting your car ready to sell.


So, you want to sell your car?

Evaluate the condition of your vehicle and determine your asking price

Research on the internet can provide information on recommended values for your vehicle. There are sites such as NADA and Kelly Blue Book that compare values of vehicles in your areas based on the condition of your car.

It is also valuable to compare your vehicle to others that are actually for sale.  Many media sites have classified sections, as well as, sites such as the Auto Trader and Edmunds.

Get a Professional Evaluation

A professional evaluation can go a long way in helping you determine the condition of your vehicle and can help reassure a prospective buyer that your car is a great deal.  Even if your car has a small problem or makes a funny noise, knowing exactly what is wrong can put a buyer’s mind at ease, making them more comfortable with the purchase.

Pre-purchase inspections are offered at many quality independent repair facilities. They typically run under $100 and cover the inspection of the vehicle very well. It is a great investment whether you are buying or selling a car.  If they find that your vehicle needs a repair, get an estimate to present to potential buyers.  You may not have to spend the money to fix it if the new purchaser trusts what needs to be done.

Mechanical health:
Check your hoses, belts and air filters – replace if needed
Change your oil
Have a reputable mechanic run a check to find any problems – Pre-purchase Check Over
Keep a copy of his findings and any repair you make

Obtain a Vehicle History Report

Just liket the Pre-purchase Inspection Reports this reassures new buyers that your vehicle has a clean history. It evaluates collision damage and many other repair and maintenance issues.  There are several sources, such as CarFax and Auto Check. Reports typically run between $30 and $60 depending on how many vehicles you want a report for.

Decide Where to Sell Your Car

The price you get will vary significantly based on the effort you spend selling your vehicle.  But, life is very busy and most of us just do not have time to meet with countless buyers to find the perfect fit. Sometimes it is a great fit to list your car on-line, place it in a consignment lot, or trade it in.

Clean, clean, and then clean some more

Your vehicle can not be too clean.  When someone buys your car it is a lot like when they buy your house.  They have to be able to see themselves in the vehicle.  If it full of your clutter, there is not any room for them (both figuratively and literally).

Exterior of your vehicle:
Wash and wax – make it shine
Use matching touch-up paint and repair small dings
Invest in new tires, if needed
Interior of your vehicle:
Vacuum the crumbs, use a toothbrush to get into crevices
Have your maintenance records handy – clean your glove box
Replace old floor mats and use air freshener
It may be worth paying for a professional detail service.  Prices and quality vary from under a $100 to over $300.  Consider your potential buyer, the price point of your vehicle and invest what makes the most sense for your situation.



Always meet the potential driver someplace safe.

Do not drive your vehicle someplace that makes you feel uncomfortable.


Completing the Sale

Insist on cash or a cashier’s check as payment.

Keep your license plate

Peel the registration decal from your windshield

If you know about a problem with your vehicle you have a moral and legal obligation to share that with the new purchaser.

Protect yourself by properly completing the state forms such as the Application for Texas Title and the Vehicle Transfer Notification.

It is a great idea to go to the courthouse and transfer the title with both the seller and purchaser present.  If this is not possible, be certain to notify the state of the sale by filing the Vehicle Transfer Notification form, either on-line or through the mail.  If the new buyer does not transfer the title right away, it can cause you a pile of legal issues.

Lynn Beckwith – That Car Lady


Comments 3

  1. Roger Conant

    Good info, Lynn. I might also add that if the buyer has to finance the purchase, a credit union is an excellent place to start. Also, if the seller belongs to a credit union…they can often post their vehicle for sale on the credit union website.

  2. Naomi Champy

    Another reminder would be to take your potential customers in a stride. Give them only truthful information about your car’s history, and as much as possible, don’t try to outright sell them the vehicle as that might turn them off.

  3. Post

    Thanks Naomi. Not only do sellers have an obligation to share the correct information with buyers – it is just the right thing to do. An example: If you know that your car needs an air conditioning repair and all you did was top off the refrigerant level to keep it working for a while – you have a legal and moral obligation to tell the potential buyer.

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