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Buying a car can be an exciting event but getting rid of your old car can be a difficult task. Depending on the type of vehicle you have, its age and condition, you could get more money for your car by selling it privately rather than trading it in at a dealership. Before listing your car on Craigslist or putting a "for sale" sign in the window, take these steps to prevent time-consuming headaches at the time of sale.

Paperwork

Hopefully if you own your car outright, you still have the title and registration. You will need these documents to transfer the title to the new owner. Other useful documents to have handy include a bill of sale, odometer statements, and release of liability (should damage occur between the sale and the change of registration). You may want to check with the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if you need to smog your car and obtain a smog certification.

Some buyers may request a vehicle history report from a site like Carfax or AutoCheck. Save yourself some time and bolster your trustworthiness by having it ready ahead of time.

Presentation

Depending on how much money you want to get out of your car, you may want to spend some time cleaning and prepping before showing it off. If you're trading the car in at a dealership, save yourself some time and money and keep the prepping to a minimum. They'll do all the work once you hand over the keys.

For a private sale, you should consider repairing any fixable dents, dings or scratches. You can find touch-up paint at your local auto supply store as well as dent removal kits. Spend some time thoroughly washing and vacuuming the car and remove any non-essential stickers and decals. You can always use a professional detail service to make sure it's looking its best.

Mechanics

There's nothing more disappointing than purchasing something and having it break down on you moments after the sale. Do all parties involved a favor by making sure everything is working properly including windshield wipers, headlights, blinkers, brakes, belts and hoses. If something is broken, disclose it in your ad or to the potential buyer up front.

Salesmanship

To maximize your profit and save you from spinning your wheels, tell the story of your car when the potential buyer takes it on a test drive. How long have you had the car? How has it been cared for? Have you gone on any long trips? Is there a lot of legroom or trunk space? Be sure to include photos when posting your ad and include basic details about the car.

You should also decide on price; what is the lowest you're willing to go and what would be your ideal sale price? Resources like TrueCar and Kelly Blue Book can help guide you to choosing the best price for your car.


Spending just a little time and minimal cash can really help you in the long run with selling your car. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes... a nice, clean car with all the necessary paperwork in hand? It's a no-brainer. Just be sure to remove the car from your car insurance policy once the sale is complete. You can use our online service request form and we'll remove the vehicle from your policy.

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Posted 8:13 AM

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81-096 Hwy 111, Suite K | Indio, CA 92201 | 760.342.0262
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