I write a monthly article for Roger Beasley Mazda in Austin Woman Magazine on various car related topics that I think are important for people to know, and as such, I have decided to share them on my blog as well! The following is an article I wrote for the March issue: 5 Mistakes People Make When Selling A Car.
1. Selling it yourself
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Of course, she’s going to say that. She works for a dealership.” Let me explain. Yes, you might be able to get a little more money selling your car privately, but there are more risks that don’t make that small amount worth it.
First, there’s the safety issue. Once you advertise your car and find an interested party, you have to meet up with a complete stranger to show him or her the car. Please, should you decide to sell privately, don’t ever go alone to meet a potential buyer, and always make sure to meet in a public place.
Next, there are concerns about scams and fraud. Unfortunately, car-selling scams happen a lot more than you may like to think. With a dealership, you might not get as much in trade, but at least you know the check isn’t going to bounce.
2. Paying a lot to have your car detailed
Dealers are not going to offer you more money for your car just because the outside is sparkling clean and you’ve vacuumed the carpets. I’m not saying bring it in to be appraised looking like a total pigsty, just don’t spend a lot of money to get your car detailed.
Clean out all the trash and wipe down the inside, and if your car is terribly dirty on the outside, maybe run it through an inexpensive car wash. Spending any more than that won’t make a difference. The same goes for fixing minor dents and dings; don’t bother. It’s likely the dealership has a tool that can pop them back out in seconds.
3. Not having the proper documents
When going to sell or trade in your car, make sure you have all the necessary documents you need: the car’s title, service records, registration, etc. Nothing is more frustrating than going through all the effort to sell your vehicle only to realize you forgot the title at home. Don’t feel the need to get a vehicle history report, though, as the dealership will pull one.
Also, be sure to bring all the necessary accessories, like the spare keys and owner’s manual. Not having these might lower the appraised value.
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4. Not knowing how much your car is worth
This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Not having an idea of what your vehicle is worth beforehand can lead to either accepting an offer that’s too low, or setting your expectations too high for what your vehicle is actually worth.
Before even stepping foot in a dealership, you should print out quotes from several different car-value websites. Some I recommend include Kelley Blue Book, NADAguides, Autotrader, Edmunds, and cars.com. Another good idea is to look online to see how much your exact vehicle (same make, model and year) is selling for at dealerships in your area. Remember, though, these are estimates. There are many factors that go into appraising the value of a car: age, mileage, season (Convertibles in the winter are worth less than in the summer.), wear and tear, maintenance upkeep, accident history, current market demand and more.
Also, keep in mind these are retail values. Dealerships may offer you a little less than retail value because chances are they’ll end up selling it for less.
5. Only visiting one dealership
What? The woman who works for Roger Beasley is encouraging you to go to other dealerships? Yep, I sure am! What a dealership offers you on a trade-in can depend on many different factors, especially their current inventory. If a dealership already has a lot of vehicles similar to the one you’re selling, dealers will likely offer you less.
Even if you are set on trading in your car for a certain new make and model, getting quotes (in writing) from other dealerships will give you some leverage when negotiating the offer.
I hope these tips are helpful. As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or suggestions for topics!