If fuel economy, an aging vehicle, unreliability or just personal preference has persuaded you to buy a new car, congratulations! If you're like many car owners, you'll need to consider what to do with your old vehicle. If you trade it in at the dealership or sell it yourself, you'll need to prepare your car for sale.
What's the value?
The first step in selling your vehicle is to determine its value on the used car market. You can start your online research with Travis Credit Union.
From there, you'll be taken to TCU's AutoSMART Web site, where you can look up your car's value using a link from Kelly Blue Book®, one of the nation's leading sources for used vehicle pricing information. You'll get data about your car's trade-in and retail values, as well as an explanation of car-selling terms. Generally, the trade-in value is lower at dealerships because these businesses will be looking to make a profit off your used vehicle.
Clean and advertise
With a price in mind, it's time to get your car ready for showing. Clean your car inside and out. Empty the trunk completely and vacuum the interior. You can use a vinyl cleaner to add shine to the interior. On the outside, wash, wax and polish. Don't forget to scrub the rims and tires, where dirt collects easily.
Other steps you can take are to change the oil and perform other minor maintenance if they're needed. A final touch would be to place all of your car's maintenance records (with any personal or financial information removed) in a folder to show buyers you've taken good care of your vehicle and responded to any manufacturer recalls. Be sure to include any warranty information that may still be in effect.
Now it is time to advertise. There are several online bulletin boards where you can sell your car. They include Craigslist, AutoTrader and CarsDirect. Visit each and research others to find one that fits your needs. If you're considering
printed classified ads, consider your daily newspaper (choose the Sunday edition for largest readership) and weekly publications, some of which are devoted entirely on cars for sale.
Test drive and negotiations
When showing your car to a potential buyer, make them feel comfortable but be mindful of your personal safety. Show your car during the day in public areas and bring a friend if possible. Test-drives are a part of buying a car, so go along for the ride to help answer any questions. Also, it is not unusual for a buyer to want to take the car to a mechanic for an inspection. Make arrangements to meet the buyer at the garage. When negotiating a price, be prepared to listen to counter-offers. Think of the sale from the buyer's prospective. Try to obtain a win-win situation so you feel good about the sale and the buyer feels good about the purchase. The main goal is to sell your car.
Once you've settled on a price, be sure to ask for a cashier's check from a local financial institution to protect yourself from any type of fraud. If this will be a cash transaction, you may want to consider conducting the transaction at a TCU branch so you can deposit your money right away. Be wary of accepting other types of payment such as money orders or personal checks. Be sure these financial instruments clear before you hand over the keys.
Post-sale follow up
Be sure to follow up with the new owner to ensure the change of vehicle ownership has taken place. The last thing you need is a new parking ticket on a car you sold a month ago. You can learn more about what's required of the buyer and seller regarding the transfer of ownership on the California Department of Motor Vehicles Web site.
There are fees associated with the transfer application related to the new title, registration renewal and taxes. There is also a fee to replace a stolen or missing license plate. Also, the vehicle may be required to undergo a smog check before its title can be transferred.
Good luck on your car sale!