How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Used Vehicle

How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Used Vehicle

How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Used Vehicle

Most people, whether they bought their car new or used, will eventually find themselves wanting (or needing) a new vehicle. While many people will trade-in their old vehicle when they purchase a new one, this is not the best financial decision. It's much more convenient to simply trade-in your used car, but you will never get fair market value for it if you do.

When you trade-in your car to a dealer, they are looking to resell the vehicle for a profit, and will always give you less than it's actually worth in order to do so. Even in the rare instance that a dealership is willing to give you fair market value for your used vehicle, they're making the money back somewhere on the new vehicle they're selling you, usually in the form of unnecessary dealer add-ons.

Some people are willing to accept less than their vehicle is worth in order to avoid the hassle of selling it. For those of you who want to get the most money for your used car, here are some tips:

·         Appearance is Key: When selling a home, you will often hear about curb appeal. If the home looks good while a buyer is standing on the sidewalk looking at it, they are much more likely to take a look inside. The same idea can be applied to a car. If your car looks good from the outside, you are more likely to hear from buyers looking for a test drive.


There are several ways to increase the curb appeal of your used vehicle. The simplest way is to wash your car—inside and out—before trying to sell it. This is especially important if you are placing an ad with a picture. People will judge your car by the picture. If it looks dirty and poorly maintained, they won't bother calling you.


A dirty car may give people the impression that the vehicle has not been looked after. Subconsciously, prospective buyers may assume that your car is in poor mechanical shape, simply based on the fact that the outside is not in showroom condition.


Getting your car detailed will further increase its curb appeal. You can usually get your vehicle detailed for around $50, and it will often allow you to get several hundred dollars more for the car.


·         Tune It Up: It's a fact of life that a used car will probably not run as well as a brand new one. Very few buyers expect a used car to run like it's new. Having said that, if your brakes squeal every time you come to a stop, or your taillights are burnt out, potential buyers are not going to be willing to spend as much money as they would if those problems were dealt with.


Getting any minor problems fixed before you sell the car will help increase its value. It will also make the buyer more confident that the vehicle has been well maintained. If they see that you haven't bothered to replace your burnt out taillights, they may wonder if you've neglected larger issues.


If your vehicle does have more serious problems, you'll have to weigh the cost of repairs against the potential increase in the selling price. Sometimes, costly repairs won't increase the value of your car enough to be profitable. If the market value of your car is only $2000, for example, you probably won't want to spend $3000 replacing a faulty transmission. In these cases, it will be better to sell it as a “fixer-upper” and get a bit less, than to lose money on the repairs.


·         Know Your Vehicle's Value: If you want to get the most money for your vehicle, you'll need to determine what its current market value is. This will help you avoid selling it for less than it's worth. The easiest way to find out your car's value is to look in the Kelly Blue Book. Be honest with yourself when assessing the condition of your vehicle in order to determine the fair value. Most used cars are not in excellent condition. If your vehicle has been well maintained, it will probably be in good to fair condition, so this is the price you should be looking for.


It may also be wise to check your local classifieds to see what prices similar vehicles are selling for, as the market value in a particular region will not always match the Blue Book value. If people aren't willing to pay as much where you live, you'll have to lower your price. If you're lucky, you might find that the market value is slightly higher than normal in your region, and you'll be able to earn a few dollars extra.


·         Write Up a Bill of Sale: It's important that you provide your buyer with proper documentation of the sale. The simplest way to do this is to write up a Bill of Sale. You should include as much information as possible on your Bill of Sale (Make, Model, VIN, odometer reading, etc.), as it will act as proof ownership for the buyer until the change in registration is processed. Online Bill of Sale forms that allow you to quickly enter the pertinent information are available from websites like


This list is hardly comprehensive. There are a number of other ways that you can increase the value of your used vehicle. This is a list of the simplest methods, which are most likely to provide a high return on investment. Being aware of the market value, getting a basic tune-up, and having the vehicle detailed are all fairly easy and inexpensive, but doing these things will often allow you to sell your vehicle for hundreds more than you'd have otherwise been able to. By taking these simple steps, you'll be able to get much more for your used vehicle than if you'd simply traded it in at a dealership.