How to Get the Most For Your Car in a Private Sale

While trading your car at a dealership may be the most convenient way to sell your vehicle, it certainly won’t get you anything close to its real value. Plus, there’s also a matter of pride. You’ve taken great care of your car for years, and selling it for less than its real worth can dent the honor of any self-respecting gearhead.

How do you ensure that you get as close to the book value of your vehicle as possible? As much as we’d hate to admit it, knowing how to do this is something used car dealers are exceptional at.

If you’re an inexperienced seller looking to maximize the returns on your car, you’re going to find this post very helpful.
American Muscle

Know Your Vehicle’s the Market Value

There’s no point in aiming for an unrealistic price, while asking too little defeats the entire purpose of selling privately.

To ensure you’re hitting the sweet spot between what you want and what you can get, make sure that you consult the experts when assessing the value of your car.

The best way to do this is to visit the Kelley Blue Book website. For close to a century, this organization has been the standard when determining a vehicle’s value and will no doubt be able to determine exactly what you can expect for yours.

Once this is established, you’ll negotiate much more effectively.

Pay Attention to the Little Things

Making sure the car’s interior looks and smells great, the body looks like a mirror, and the tires are shining like a new dime, may swing the opinion of a hesitant buyer. Suddenly, they may just be willing to pay what you’re asking.

While the first two things above may seem obvious and easy to do, many novice sellers forget how “cared for” a vehicle with freshly buffed tires can look.

Tire shining is ideally done with with specialized products. Do some research online to find out about the best tire shine picks on the market.

Get a Tune-up

While a major overhaul may not be worthwhile in terms of seeing a return, a tune-up is absolutely essential. The last thing you want is for the test-drive to reveal some small issue that would have cost a mere $200 to resolve.

Replacing the spark plugs and other minor parts, as well as changing the oil often, leads to a much improved sound from your engine. This is something a potential buyer is sure to notice. They may be more willing to pay your price.

List the Vehicle Correctly

This is essentially an exercise in marketing. If you want top dollar, you’ll want to reach as many potential buyers as possible. Simply getting your car’s specs and your contact details onto Craigslist isn’t going to cut it.

Write using appropriately descriptive words. Look at how the used dealers describe their vehicles, but be careful not to be too flowery in your prose.

Have good quality photographs taken. Park the vehicle at an attractive location and ensure there is plenty of light. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to take photos of pretty much anything, your car included.

Don’t stop with Craigslist, though. It’s likely that there are dozens of publications, digital and print, that list vehicles for sale in your area. Don’t be put off if one or two of these charge a nominal fee for the listing, especially if it is one that specializes in vehicle listings.

Bulletin boards at your local supermarket or church are also excellent places for a well designed and written advert.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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