Before you sell your used car, you want to be sure you are as ready as possible. Here are seven things that people often forget before selling their used car–don’t make the same mistakes!
1. CLEANING UNDER THE HOOD
I (fairly) recently moved from Indiana to California and had to get the plates changed on my car. At the Department of Motor Vehicles (what an awful experience) they had to inspect my registration, title, and VIN to make sure everything checked out before transferring my info to the new state tags—and while doing so the nice man had to check under the hood. What we found there surprised us both. There were enough leaves to fill the Hollywood Bowl packed into every nook and cranny underneath my hood. The inspector kindly said, “You should probably clean this out.” I haven’t (yet), but when it comes time to sell your car, be sure to check under your hood and give it a solid cleaning so the buyer (and you) aren’t slapped in the face with whatever mess might lurk below!
2. CHECKING THE TRUNK
Just like making sure you clean under the hood of your used car, you want to be sure to check your trunk before trying to sell. For one, you want to make sure the buyer doesn’t drive off with your golf clubs, gym equipment, groceries, etc. And if you are in the mafia, this might be especially important (that would be one heck of a surprise for the buyer!). Also, you want to be sure the spare tire and jack and everything else that should be there is there and stored properly.
3. MAKING SURE THE HEATER WORKS IN SUMMER, AC IN WINTER
If the buyer has read any of our past articles then he will know to check the heater of the car, even in the scorching summer sun; and to check the air conditioner, ever in the dead cold of winter… because the time will come when the buyers needs one or the other and if one doesn’t work it might be quite costly to have it fixed. If the buyer knows to check this, you better check yourself so it doesn’t look like you are trying to pull a fast one! If one doesn’t work, be up front about it.
4. TOPPING OFF FLUIDS
This is just common courtesy, as well as a good precautionary measure before potential buyers are taking the used car out on a test drive. If you are out on the road with a possible buyer, the last thing you want to happen is to run out of gas! Or have no window washer fluid. The horror!
5. MAKING SURE IT STARTS/DRIVES (consistently)
This might sound like a no-brainer, but if you’re car has been sitting in your garage for a while collecting dust, be sure that it starts….consistently. If a potential buyer comes along and the car fails to turn over, I doubt he will buy it no matter how many times you say, “But it started this morning!” Also, if it does start, be sure to take it out for a few drives to know what to expect when the potential buyer test-drives it himself.
6. PREPARING FOR A HAGGLING BUYER
Be sure to research the fair market value of your used car for its condition. Kelley Blue Book is a great resource for this and we gave some good advice on how to use the site for selling your car. Also, be prepared for a savvy haggler. If he’s read our advice on how to haggle, then he will be coming hard with some great tactics. Be prepared to counter them to keep the negotiations in your favor.
7. REMOVING BUMPER STICKERS, DECALS, AND OTHER DECORATIONS
That bumper sticker that you think is oh-so-clever may not be such a big hit with potential buyers. We recommend you definitely remove your 1984 Walter Mondale presidential election bumper sticker, your college alma mater decals, those faux bullet hole stickers, and any other weird kitsch decorations, inside and out (beads on the rearview, that hula bobble head girl, etc). The cleaner and crisper the car, the better!
Let us know if we forgot anything that you might forget! Comment and share—thanks!