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10 Surprising Mistakes People Make When Selling A Car

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

In May 2019, brand-new vehicles cost an average of $37,185. That’s a $1,320 increase from the average price the year before!

With that kind of money on the line, it’s no wonder more buyers are settling for used vehicles. In fact, automotive experts say that this year, the used car sector could sell up to a whopping 41 million units.

That said, if you’re interested in selling a car that you’ve changed gears in for the past few years, now’s the time to do so. There’s a big market for used cars, and you should take advantage of that to get a good price on your ride.

To secure the best possible deal, however, there are some things you first need to do. Don’t worry, as that’s exactly what we’re here to share with you. So, be sure to keep reading this guide on the best way to sell your car!

1. Forgetting to Get Rid of Everything Inside the Vehicle

This may sound obvious, but many car sellers do forget this task before handing over the keys to the new owner. To put things in perspective, a study found that the average human forgets about four things in a day. Within a year, most of the study’s participants have forgotten a whopping 1,400 things.

This makes clearing out all the storage spots in your car even more important. For one, because you may have already forgotten about the stuff you placed in them in the past. Second, these items may be of sentimental or even financial value to you.

That said, be sure to check the center console, glove box, cup holders, and pockets on the doors. Look under all the seats and also check the areas between the cushions. Don’t forget to pop the trunk as well, as you may have important supplies, equipment, and car fluids there.

2. Neglecting to Give the Interior a Thorough Cleaning

Dusting and vacuuming the surfaces won’t be enough — you should wash the car seat covers and mats too. Air out the inside of your vehicle too, to get rid of all the odors that have accumulated in it for years. This is one of the most important used car selling hacks you shouldn’t skip.  

The smell of freshly-laundered seat covers can help reduce the “used” qualities of your car. It may not smell like brand-new, but at least, buyers won’t smell you in it. The smell of a clean car interior can make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves driving the car.

3. Skipping the Exterior Clean Up

Many car sellers regard waxing and polishing as only “sugarcoating.” They think that since they’re selling used, buyers expect their cars to look and feel like it.

This is not true. Appearance and cosmetics still make a huge difference. Especially since they possibly will drive your car back home (and no one wants to drive a filthy vehicle).

Plus, dirt can make your car look older and may even make buyers wonder if there are problems under the hood. Prevent this from happening by not skipping this step on how to sell your car.

4. Failure to Research the Car’s Current Ballpark Value

Coming up with your own estimate of your car’s value may not be enough to get an accurate figure. If you underestimate, you may end up agreeing to a price that’s lower than what your car is actually worth. Whereas overestimating can put off buyers, which could then make it harder for you to sell your car.

One of the best tips on how to sell a used car for the right price is to use Kelley Blue Book’s car valuing tool. It’ll give you a ballpark idea of how much your vehicle is worth based on actual market values.

5. Not Weighing in the Cost of Repairs

Granted, major repairs can boost your car’s selling price. But their cost may be too much that you can’t recoup your expenses even with a higher selling price.

One of the best ways on how to sell a car that needs work is to get written repair estimates. You can then use this as a negotiating tool if a buyer cites those problems to justify a lowball offer.

6. Agreeing to the First Offer or Letting a Hard Sell Sway You

Even if you need to sell a used car ASAP, don’t settle for the first offer you get. Neither should you yield to a seller placing intense pressure on you. Especially not if your ride is among the most popular cars for resale, as you can get better offers for it.

7. Using Low-Quality Images to Advertise the Vehicle

81% of Americans now own smartphones, and many of these gadgets can take super nice and clear photos. If you own one of these devices, there’s no excuse to post low-quality photos of your car for sale.

Of course, you shouldn’t over-edit the photos that the car in them looks different from the real thing. What you want (and what buyers are looking for) is to take as many images as you can in various angles. The better the lighting, the clearer and more accurate the photographs will be.  

These include full “body” shots, images of all four sides, and photos that capture the interior. Also, if your phone can take 360-degree photos, use that to showcase your car’s interiors. Don’t forget to take pictures of the cargo, trunk, and what’s under the hood.

8. Putting Up Inaccurate or Vague Vehicle Description on the Ads

“Selling my Ford F Series. Call or PM me for more details.”

Avoid that kind of description as it won’t push anyone to call you for anything. Instead, give potential buyers the crucial details, such as the make, model, year, and trim. List down all upgrades (like equipment or gadgets) that also come with your ride.

Include any detail that sets your ride apart, such as if it has low mileage or if you always park it in the garage.

9. Not Having All Vehicle Documents on Hand

Make sure you have the registration or title with you before selling your used car. Also, prove that you’ve taken good care of your car by showing maintenance records to buyers.

10. Being Too Trusting of All Buyers

Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of car buying scams that you need to be on the lookout for. Fake checks and overpayment ploys are just to name a few.

That’s why it’s crucial to screen each prospective buyer before you meet up with them. Call them (not text!) and see if you can find these people online, such as through social media or LinkedIn. Doing these can help you gauge if they’re serious buyers or if they’re scammers.

Follow All These Tips When Selling a Car to Secure the Best Deal

There you have it, your ultimate guide to selling a car the fast and efficient way. Best of all, these tips can help you weed out crooks while also raising your odds of getting the best deal. So, make sure you don’t skip any of the hacks we’ve listed above!

Ready to sell your car and wondering how much you can get for it? Then start by filling out this form so you can get a quote on your ride! You can also get in touch with us if you need more help in selling your used car.

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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