Thinking about selling your car in the near future? If so, you’ll want to follow the tips outlined below to ensure a safe, smooth transaction that leaves both you and the buyer happy.
Gather Maintenance Records
When shopping for a car, buyers want to know the vehicle was taken care of. This is why it’s a good idea to gather all of your maintenance and service records. Whether it’s a tune-up, transmission replacement, tire replacement, or just a routine 5,000-mile oil change, you should present this documentation to potential buyers. Doing so will give them peace of mind knowing that the car was properly maintained while in your possession.
Let’s face it, most people toss their maintenance records in the trash without thinking twice. As long as you had your car serviced by the dealer, though, they should provide you with copies upon request. Some dealers offer maintenance records for free, whereas others charge a small fee (up to $20). Call your dealer to see if they have records on file, and if so, how much they cost. Twenty bucks is a small price to pay for proof of maintenance.
Clean It Up!
No one wants to a buy a dirty car that’s riddled with old fast food wrappers and trash in the floorboard, which is why it’s a good idea to detail your car – inside and out – before selling it. This includes washing the exterior body, scrubbing the tires and wheels, cleaning the windows with a glass cleaner, drying it, and applying a fresh coat of wax.
For the interior, you’ll want to remove any and all trash that’s stuck between the seats, console and other hard-to-reach places, as well as vacuuming the seats and floors and cleaning the vinyl. For an added touch, spray some new car-scented air freshener inside – yes, there is air freshener made to smell like the interior of new cars.
If you don’t have the time to detail your car, you can always have it professionally detailed. A good detailing job will probably run you about $150, but that cost includes all aforementioned steps (e.g. washing, drying, waxing, vacuuming, etc.).
Take Pictures, Lots of Pictures
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. This holds true when selling a used car. Buyers often base their initial judgment on whether or not a car is the right choice for them from the photos provided by the seller. Whether you’re selling your car in the newspaper, classified ads, magazines, or online, make sure you have the most appealing photos of it possible. Hopefully, you’ve already detailed it, as this will greatly enhance the photographic look of your car. If not, wait until your car has been detailed before taking photos of it.
Beware of Scams
It’s not something most people want to think about, but car-buying scams do occur. One such scam involves fraudsters who pose as car buyers on Craigslist. When they arrange to buy a car, they give the seller what appears to be a legitimate check. Assuming the check is real, the seller signs over the title and gives the fraudster the keys, only to discover later that the check is fake.
To protect yourself against scams, the NICB recommends waiting until the check has cleared before signing over the title. This usually takes a couple of days, depending on the bank. Some buyers may naturally be hesitant to hand over a check in advance, but this is necessary to prevent fraudulent activities.
“Never sign over a title until you have the money in hand. Avoid accepting any kind of check, but if you do, take the time to make sure any alleged bank or cashier’s check has actually cleared and you have the cash. It may take a week to 10 days for a check to clear,” said the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in a press release warning about auto scams on Craigslist. “If it’s bogus, you could be left responsible for paying off the loan even though the car is long gone.”
Find a Notary Public
Depending on your state of residence, the services of a notary public may be required when selling a car. According to CarsDirect.com, you must issue a bill of sale to the buyer when selling a car; otherwise, the transaction may be deemed invalid. Bill of sale templates can be acquired through most Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or you can purchase/download them off the Internet. Once you’ve obtained a blank bill of sale, you can fill in the necessary information, at which point you and the buyer must also sign it. However, there are times when a notary public may also be required during this step.
As noted in the CarsDirect article mentioned above, six states currently require bill of sales to be notarized: Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Montana.
Thankfully, there are notary publics who are willing to meet you at your preferred location. Known as mobile notaries, they allow clients to schedule a time, date and location to perform the notarization. Instead of trying to coerce the buyer into meeting you at a local notary public’s office, you can simply ask the notary to come to you.