8 Ways that Explain How to Sell Used Cars

If you have a used car you’d like to sell, you’re not unlike millions of other Americans who do the same thing every year. Fortunately for you, there are lots of different ways to go about it. In the following paragraphs we’ll discuss eight of those ways, along with giving you some helpful tips to ensure a smooth and easy transaction.

As long as we’re talking about used cars, you can search for the best deal on auto insurance for your used vehicle by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool located on this page!

Before we get into the eight ways to sell your used car, keep in mind that there might be certain rules and regulations that apply in your state. Also keep in mind that, according to the Federal Trade Commission, federal rules require used car sellers in 48 states to follow certain dealer rules if they sell more than five used cars in a 12-month period. The two states exempt from federal regulations are Maine and Wisconsin (they have their own regulations in place).

#1 – List Your Vehicle in Your Local Newspaper

Though the days of printed newspapers are gradually coming to a close, there are still enough of them to consider listing your vehicle with one or two. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you should have several newspapers from which to choose. If you live in a rural area or a small town, you may only have one paper.

Better yet, many of the major newspapers print both paper and digital editions. The Washington Post is a great example, and they have one section dedicated exclusively to buying and selling cars. Listing your vehicle with a newspaper like this gives you maximum exposure.

#2 – List Your Vehicle in a Trade Magazine

Another great way to take advantage of print media is to list your car in a trade magazine like AutoShopper. First published in 1979, AutoShopper is one of the oldest such trade magazines in the business. They face a lot of stiff competition from online resources, but for people who don’t like using the Internet, they offer a great way to find a car.

Trade magazines like AutoShopper might be the best way to sell a used car in a small-town or rural environment.

The magazines are typically free to readers, so they’re supported by ads purchased by sellers. Most of them allow you to include one free picture; you can add more pictures for an additional charge.

#3 – List Your Vehicle on a Website

The Internet equivalent of a magazine like AutoShopper is a site like AutoTrader. According to Bloomberg Business Week, the AutoTrader website has been around since 1998, providing a marketplace for both private sellers and dealers.

The advantage of listing your used car on the Web is that your audience is so much larger. AutoTrader, for example, provides you with a listing on their site as well as a free listing on their partner sites whenever you buy a basic ad. Though it might be more costly than a local print magazine, the wider audience might make it worth it.

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#4 – List Your Vehicle on a Retail Auction Site

You can get maximum exposure without having to use a site like AutoTrader by going the auction route instead. We’re all familiar with sites like eBay, and many of them have automotive sections specifically designated for sellers of used cars.

If you plan to use an auction site, there are a couple of things you need to remember. First of all, it’s not uncommon to be allowed to list your vehicle for free and then be charged a fee based on the sales price of the car. The higher the selling price, the higher your fees.

Second, when you sell a car this way you are selling it sight unseen in most cases. If you’re not careful to list all of the details regarding your vehicle, and you’re not completely upfront and honest, you could find yourself entangled in dispute with an unhappy buyer down the road.

Finally, you’ll want to consider the fact that the buyer may not be in your city, or even in your state. If that’s the case, having a plan in place to ship your car a long distance may be a wise thing to do.

#5 – List Your Vehicle with an Auto Broker

The next method in our eight ways to sell your used vehicle is to list it with a local, state, or regional broker. As explained by career and employment website CV Tips, an auto broker acts as an independent sales agents for dealers and private sellers.

A broker’s responsibility is to match sellers and buyers according to the needs of both.

Although most states allow car dealers to also be licensed as brokers, the rules they must follow in a broker transaction are very specific. Legally, a broker cannot make any representations as to the quality of a used vehicle being sold. He can only act as a facilitator between buyer and seller.

The advantages of listing your car with a broker comes by way of the sheer number of connections he has.

#6 – Sell to a Cash-and-Carry Company

A brand-new option just beginning to gain traction in the United States is a cash-and-carry operation. These types of companies look for late-model used cars that they can clean up and turn around quickly. They are the automotive equivalent to house flippers, whose number one goal is to make money by keeping inventory moving.

Using a cash-and-carry operation is a great option if you don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to sell your car. Many of these companies will complete the transaction within 24 to 72 hours of being contacted. The downside is that you won’t get top dollar.

Remember that a cash-and-carry operation must make a decent profit in order to stay in business. They will pay you based on a wholesale price as determined by a number of factors. Then they turn around and resell your car at a retail price that will both cover their expenses and put some extra money in their pockets.

#7 – Sell Your Car to a Local Dealer

If you’re buying a new car, you should be able to dispose of your old used vehicle by taking advantage of the dealer’s trade-in option. But what if you’re not purchasing something? Can you still sell your used car to a local dealer?

In all likelihood, a franchised dealership (one that sells branded cars from companies like Ford and Chevrolet) won’t be interested in purchasing your used car if you’re not buying something else from them. As a matter of fact, they have no incentive for doing so. But local used car dealers are a different story.

Used car dealers tend to be independent, so they need to take advantage of as many sources of inventory as possible.

If your used car is in good condition, and is a brand and model that’s fairly easy to sell, a local used car dealer might be interested in purchasing it from you.

Like a broker, however, remember that you’re not going to get the best deal.

#8 – Sell Your Vehicle from Your Own Front Yard

Despite all of the options listed here, the one that remains the most popular among used car sellers is to simply park the car in the front yard with a “for sale” sign in the window. Owners have been selling cars this way for generations. As long as you live on a street with a decent amount of traffic, it is a good option.

The greatest advantage of selling this way is the fact that it costs you very little money. It also enables you to get a better price than selling to a dealer or broker, if you know how to negotiate. Unfortunately, selling your car from your yard does have its drawbacks.

First among them is the fact that you are completely responsible for the entire transaction. Consumer Reports Magazine deals with this very topic, along with offering a lot of great suggestions to help you sell your car more easily. Keep in mind that selling from your yard requires you to do your homework so you know what you have before you place the car in the yard.

Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Buyer

The last thing we want to address is the necessity for you to always put yourself in the shoes of the potential buyer. While it’s true that buyers can sometimes be unreasonable in terms of what they’re looking for and a price they want to pay, sellers are just as unreasonable at times.

Remember that your car is worth only what others are willing to pay; that price may not be exactly what you have in mind.

Also remember that the buyer wants to make sure he knows exactly what he’s getting for his money. So always be up front, honest, and of the highest integrity. If the buyer wants to have your car inspected by his own mechanic, by all means let him do so.

Though private sellers are not covered by lemon laws, you still don’t want to sell that stranger standing in your driveway a lousy car without telling him up front. The last thing you need is an angry customer showing up at your door, three weeks later, demanding his money back.

Whether you’re buying or selling a used car you can find the best deals on car insurance by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool.

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