By Tyler Shaw, Event Coordinator, Auto Fair

When selling a used car, there are many factors to consider.  First, realize your used car will be someone elses new car.  Consider investing a little time and money to prep your car for resale. You will always reap a reward beyond your investment.  The following can be used as a guide to optimize your chances of selling your car quickly.



Safety issues must be addressed first.  If your vehicle has a cracked or broken windshield, get it fixed.  Cracks not more than a couple inches long can usually be fixed at a fraction of the cost of buying a new windshield.  Replace bald tires.  They are unsafe, look bad and represent an immediate expense to a potential buyer. 



The first test a potential buyer gives your vehicle is the smell test.  If your car's interior smells bad or there is lingering pet hair, your potential buyer will lose interest immediately.  If you are a smoker, the interior smell may offend non-smokers and smokers alike.  Have the interior carpets cleaned as best possible.  While you're at it, clean the ashtray.  Also, make sure your personal effects are completely cleaned out.  Remember, this is someone's new car and they don't want to be reminded there was a previous owner.  Check your tape/CD player, center console, glove box, between seats, under seats and visors.



You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Wash it, wax it, have noticeable scratches fixed and spend a couple extra bucks on tire dressing.  You cannot overdo it when it comes to the exterior appearance.  If you spend $150 on a complete detail, you can expect to earn that back on the sale.



If you are within 1000 miles of your next scheduled service, get it done.  Your potential buyer will love seeing that little sticker in the corner of the windshield telling them they have another 3000 miles to go before the next service.  Most importantly, make sure all fluids are clean and filled to their proper levels.



There is nothing that sets a buyer at ease more than a stack of complete and organized maintenance records.  If you have kept service records on your vehicle, take time to make copies, put them in a binder in chronological order with the most recent records at the front. 


Asking Price

You can forget everything we've already covered if you ask an unreasonable price.  Most likely there are many other vehicles like yours out there to choose from, so price to sell.  Don't waste your time going to different price guides looking for the one that says your car is worth the most.  Go to the most familiar, Kelley Blue Book ( private-party value.  Your buyer will most likely be checking this source as well to determine how much they are willing to spend on your car.  They will also be checking classified publications to see what else is out there, so be familiar with the current market values and trends.  When setting your price, leave yourself some room to negotiate. 



The seller is responsible for a current smog certificate.  A smog certificate is considered current for a transfer only if it has been done within the past 90 days.  Here is the recent exception.  If you are going to sell a car in 2019 and the car is a 2016 model or newer, you do not have to get a smog check for the transfer.


"Remember, take safety precautions when meeting potential buyers.  Do not open your home to strangers.  Meet at a mutual the daytime."  

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