October 4th, 2017 by

The best way to sell a used car fast is to sell or trade-in the vehicle you’d like to sell to a reputable dealer. You don’t have to do any advertising, nor do you have people coming around to visit your house, each of which causes delays in the transaction.

If time is of the essence, there’s no route better than the dealer route.

How can somebody get the best price for a used car they want to sell?

If you’re lucky enough to have a friend, family member or co-worker interested in your used car, you’ll probably get the highest price possible, because you will have zero marketing costs. (You might have other complications, for example, if the car you sold to your aunt has a problem, guess who she’s going to be calling for an explanation and possibly a remedial act, or even a refund!)

For those who aren’t lucky enough to have a buyer close at hand, it’s important for people to keep in mind that they’re not just looking for the “best price” on a used car sale, but the “highest net” (computed by subtracting all the costs associated with the transaction from the final sales price).

Some of these costs are tangible (for example, eBay fees or classified ad fees), others are intangible but perhaps highly material: for example, if your salary is $100 an hour, and it takes you 10 hours to sell your car, that’s $1,000 more you’ll need to get from the transaction to break even).

Another factor that’s important is the tax benefit you get when trading in a used car to a dealer for a new one. For example, if you’re buying a new car for $30K and your dealer gives you $10K on your trade-in, you only pay sales tax on the $20,000 difference (not the $30K the car is actually worth).

What’s the best way you know of for someone to advertise a car they have to sell?

Obviously, you want to advertise locally/regionally, e.g. using Craigslist, car-specific sites, via Buy-Lines, or even But again, there are two downsides to this that need to be restated: 1) Advertising costs, and 2) Loss of control over who sees your ad (and who might show up to inspect your car unannounced). And, of course, there’s no guarantee that any of this will go quickly.

What are the “must do” things that a used car-seller must do before putting their car on the market?

The car you wish to sell needs to look good, smell fine, and work well. The last thing you want is for a buyer to start the car and see a warning indicator on the dash, so have a qualified mechanic look over your car and make any necessary repairs. New tires are important, from both a visual and functional perspective. Bodywork is also very important – if there are dents and dings, have them corrected by professional.

I recommend that you go beyond simply cleaning your car. Hire a detailer to provide real TLC. The paint should look flawless, your undercarriage should be clean, and your interior immaculate and deodorized.

Of course, keep in mind that none of these professionals work for free. And while the work they put into your used car might be reflected in a higher sale price for you, there are no guarantees. Again, these are issues you won’t have to address if you simply sell or trade-in with a dealership.

Once interest from buyers has been secured, what’s the best way for a seller to present the used car they want to sell?

Photography is of course very important. You need to take lots of photos showing every aspect of the car, for example, the interior, outside from multiple angles, tire treads, the engine, odometer, and other features. Try to select an attractive setting for your photo shoot – it’s a subtle point, but details matter.

Visuals count a lot – especially online — but again, they’re just the lure. It’s vitally important that your car exceed any expectations set for it when people show up to actually inspect/test drive it (see points made earlier).

Your used car’s paperwork is extremely important. The better your car’s paperwork is organized, the easier time you’ll have selling it for top dollar. Make sure you have a copy of a clean CARFAX report showing your car’s accident and ownership history. Also make sure you have a complete service record for your car, showing its repair and maintenance history.

A well-maintained, one-owner car is something to brag about, so if your paperwork can prove same you’ll be in an excellent position as a seller.

Do you have any other tips for people who want to sell their cars?

Knowing the market is also very important. Pay attention to seasonality’s effect on buyer psychology. For example, the best time to sell a convertible is just before Spring arrives. Conversely, the best time to sell an SUV is just after the first snowfall in the Fall. If you time your sale to synch with these seasonal trends, you’ll be in a better position to reap the maximum value from the transaction.

By the way, you’re always welcome to come by City Buick GMC if you’d like to talk about selling your used car to us. We’ll value your trade fairly, and have many great used cars on our lot for your consideration. Call us at 866-590-2588 or use this website’s online contact form.

Sam Fox, President of City Cadillac

Posted in Tips