Selling Your Used Car

Word Count: 1026Process Essay
Thesis: The majority of the American population has very little, or no understanding of the used car trade. A simple understanding on when and where to sell, how to get your car ready, writing a classified ad, negotiating, and making a contract.


With consumer demand rising and supply constrained by several factors, including the tendency of new-car owners to hang on to them longer, prices for used vehicles have been climbing steadily. According to one recent study, nearly three times as many shoppers now want to buy a used, rather than a new, vehicle. (Dalglish)
In trying to find the perfect buyer, your options include: new-car dealers, used-car dealers, and friends and strangers. New-car dealers are generally eager and ready to buy. They are incredibly picky about every aspect of a cars condition. New-car dealers will be choosy about the make and model, preferring newer models in relatively good condition.(Makower) They will pay a relatively low price for the car. Used-car dealers are also eager to buy and incredibly picky about every aspect of a cars condition. But they arent very choosy about the cars they buy. However, they will pay a rock-bottom price for the car. Friends and strangers are usually eager and ready to buy. They will be much less picky, and rely more on your word for information. They will be choosy about the car, but will already be interested in the car through your ad. You will get the best price, through negotiations, but you have to work harder. The best time to sell is in the springtime when the weather turns nice. Other good times are in September when kids are going off to college; and in the dead of winter, when there is no competition.

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It is possible to turn the average used-car into a saleable commodity in just a few hours. You should dress up your car, regardless of the condition you normally keep it in. You want to make it clean, neat, and even smelling nice. You must do this to the entire car, inside and out, from one end to the other. Most car buyers understand that appearance is a good indicator of how well someone treated the car overall. Nine important steps to take are: washing and waxing, painting and touching up, cleaning your tires, a thorough cleaning of the interior, gather all the important documents, steam-clean under the hood, WD-40 anything that rattles or creaks, replace missing parts, and prepare a bill of sales. (Makower)
The art of writing a classified ad, is to cram a lot of information into a few words. The ads purpose is to get people interested in calling you, not to fully describe your car. Make the first few words stand out, the description is the most important part of the ad. Specifics are better than generalities. If you include the price, you will limit the number of callers you get. The most important things to cite in the body of the ad are: number of doors, mileage, condition, transmission, engine, accessories, price, and your phone number. (Robertson)When perspective buyers call, it is important to field any question they have directly. Dont let anyone else in your house give out the information about the car. You need to have a pen and paper ready to take down phone numbers and set up appointments.

Negotiating for a car can be exhausting or it can be a fun profitable game. Some people dont like to negotiate, and will do anything to get it over with, these are the kind of people that you will get the most money from. Without even knowing it you probably already have learned a lot about the process: standing your ground; giving in, but not too quickly or too much; not buying into others manipulative games; compromising; and cutting your losses. First off, be prepared. You should know what your car is worth, its basic condition and problems, the minimum you want to accept for it, and be ready to sing over the car on the spot. Keep in mind that a perfect deal is one where neither party gets exactly what it wanted. (Makower) Every used-car buyer has a need to buy a car, and you must find out what it is. Your attitude will play a major role in the negotiations. You should be nice, polite, and low-key. If you get hot and bothered, youll lose control of your actions and the buyer. Simple put, the five basic steps for the seller are: your asking price, the buyers counteroffer, bargaining, last-minute strategies, and the deal.

An oral agreement is only as good as the paper it is written on, so make sure that all the details are put into writing. Make it clear that you are selling the car as is. Dont sign over your title or give your car to anyone until all the purchasing arrangements have been made. Make it clear that the buyer is responsible for all inspections and registration once they buy the car. (Makower) Most importantly, make copies of everything you sign. The bill of sale is the basic car-buying document that records the transaction. The following should be included: the date of the sale, year and make and model of the car, state registration, VIN number, odometer reading, amount sale is for, extra conditions, and the buyers and sellers names and addresses and phone numbers. Make sure that each party gets a copy of the bill of sale.

A large percentage of the population uses the automobile regularly. The majority of the population, over 90%, has little or no understanding of the car buying art. (Robertson) Many people feel that selling their car themselves can be a real hassle. But, if you can realize that you will get several hundred dollars more than what a dealer might offer you, it just may be worth a little effort and time on your part.


Works Cited
Dalglish, Brenda. Better Than New: used-car prices jump as consumer demand grows.

Macleans 10 Jul. 1995: 22-24
Makower, Joel. How to Sell a Used Car. New York: Perigee Books, 1988.


Robertson, C.B. How to Deal on an Automobile. Lyons: Blue Mountain Publisher, 1988.

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