4 Tips for Selling Your First Car

A 2012 survey by automotive marketing firm R.L. Polk found that people are keeping their new cars an average of six years, the longest duration in the eight years the company has done the survey. Used car owners are also keeping their vehicles longer, from 32 months in 2003 to 50 months in 2011.

Some of the aforementioned data can be attributed to the recession, while some people simply need a little instruction to maximize both efficiency and the potential sale price. These four tips for selling your car will steer you in the right direction.

Know Your Car’s Value

In the old days, dealerships had all the advantages when it came to pricing vehicles. Today consumers can search used cars on Kelley Blue Book and get accurate valuation data based on criteria specific to their vehicles, including mileage and overall condition. Use this as a starting point for your asking price.

Meticulous car owners who keep all service receipts can charge a little more since the potential buyer knows exactly what they are getting. Regardless, always add a little to your asking price so there is room for negotiation. For instance, if you ultimately will take $2,000 for your car and the Blue Book value is $2,400, start the bidding at $2,700 so the buyer believes they are getting a deal when they offer something lower.

Preparation Is Key

An infographic by data analysis firm Kissmetric shows that 93 percent of consumer purchases are based solely on the color and appearance of a particular product. Moreover, a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Design concluded that companies have a competitive advantage when they place added emphasis on aesthetically-pleasing products.

Make certain to clean all the ash trays, vacuum the rugs, wash and wax the exterior (including the tires), and spray a “new car scent” air freshener inside before showing the vehicle. Top off all the fluids and clear all your belongings from the trunk. If you really want to give your car maximum curb appeal, pay for professional detailing before putting it on the market.

Photos and Videos

The more pictures you take and display of your car, the less skeptical a potential buyer will be. An ad with 15-20 pictures from every angle shows you have noting to hide and are being upfront. Highlight the car’s best features, but also show pictures of any scratches or dents.

If you want to get really creative, make a video instead. You can narrate while your camera shows the car’s best features. Give some anecdotes outlining your experiences with the vehicle to give it a personal touch.

Advertise Everywhere

Technology has made selling a car easier than ever before. Craigslist is the first place you should put an ad. The headline should contain detailed, specific information about your car (year, make, model, etc.) as Craigslist ads still index in Google searches despite the company’s actions to prevent this, reports CNet.

Autotrader.com and Cars.com are are also very popular, but require fees to list your car. Ebay motors has a wide reach, but also charges a fee based on several different factors. Utilize your Facebook and Twitter accounts to get the word out to friends and others that your car is available. Spend the $2 or $3 on one of those red “for sale” signs and place it in the back window.

Lastly, make certain you answer email inquiries as soon as possible, and be polite when fielding phone calls. A good first impression can make all the difference in whether or not a deal gets done.

About the Author: Steve Harris is an auto shop owner, freelance writer and expert chess player.