How to sell a car – hints & tips
Selling a car can be a daunting task, particularly if you haven’t done so before. CarsGuide.com.au is a great place to sell a car privately, but here are some top tips to show you how to sell a car easily.
How to sell a car privately
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Preparing your car for sale
Before you list your car for sale, it’s very important to prepare it to maximise its appeal.
- Consider having it detailed by a professional. For a couple of hundred dollars you can have your car cleaned from top to bottom and save you at least a couple of weekends doing it yourself.
- If you opt to clean it yourself make sure you clean in all the hard to get at areas, like door openings, boot openings, and the engine bay.
- Never leave anything lying around the interior or boot, which would make your car look untidy in the eyes of the buyer. Loose items can rattle and bang around and create a poor impression on a test drive.
- If you’re a smoker clean the ashtray and lighter and make sure the interior doesn’t smell of cigarette smoke. There’s no better way of putting a buyer off than to show them a car that smells of tobacco. If it does smell, get a deodoriser and leave it in the car for a week or two before advertising it in the hope the smell will go away. Don’t leave the deodoriser in the car when showing it to a potential buyer.
- Wash and polish the exterior including the wheels, windows and all chrome or stainless trim. Clean up any polish residue after you’re finished to avoid giving the impression you’ve just cleaned the car up to sell it.
- Time your sale so your vehicle has been recently serviced. Selling when a service is due suggests you’re trying to avoid something.
- Make sure the windscreen washer reservoir and radiator are topped up to the marks so it looks like you have cared about your car.
- Take the time to inflate the tyres to the correct pressure. There’s nothing worse than going on a test drive and being shaken and shimmied because the owner didn’t set the tyre pressures.
- Have the car’s service record paperwork on hand to show the potential buyer that you have had the car serviced regularly. It’s another way of demonstrating you’ve looked after it.
- Also have the car’s current registration papers on hand to prove that you are the owner of the car you’re selling.
- If there is any finance owing on the vehicle, it is best to be up front with any potential buyers. How you sell your car depends on the type of loan you have, and you’ll find the best advice on how to prepare right here.
- Consider investing in a vehicle history report. There are several online services that can provide this service in Australia.
Taking the best photos for your ad
Now that your car is clean and ready for inspection, it’s also the best time to photograph your car for your ad.
- Most modern smartphones come with excellent built-in cameras, so don’t feel the need to buy or borrow a camera.
- Try to shoot early in the morning, late in the afternoon or when it’s overcast to avoid harsh shadows that can hide details. Never shoot in the rain, as any car will look shiny and new when wet.
- Be sure to wipe your camera lens clean to prevent blurring or lens flare, and avoid using your flash.
- Only take Landscape (horizontally orientated) images, not Portait (vertical orientation).
- It’s easiest to try and replicate the camera angles used in our car reviews, which generally consist of at least a front ¾ view, rear ¾ view, side view, and interior shots.
- Take as many shots as your ad will allow, and add extra details like the other side view, front view, rear view, each wheel (to show any kerbing or lack thereof), a boot shot and close-ups of any damage or specific details of your car.
- When uploading your images to your ad, try to place them in a logical order, and make sure none are upside down. Once again, it’s best to copy the order of one of our car review galleries.
Writing your ad
You’ll get more attention and therefore sell your car faster if your advertisement is clear, concise and correct.
- Be precise in your description of your car, detailing the make, model and variant, year of manufacture, engine and transmission details, major options and its general condition. Include odometer reading, and highlight if it is low for the age.
- Avoid abbreviations and jargon that might make it hard to understand for the reader. Proof-read your words for typos and run a spell-check to avoid mistakes.
- Keep the words to a minimum. Buyers are less likely to read an entire epic tale than a concise description.
- Include a brief description of the car’s history, for example ‘one owner’, ‘mostly highway km’, ‘never been off-road’ etc.
- Be honest with any imperfections, and make sure you include photos. It’s better for buyers to know these details from reading the ad than to be disappointed after an inspection.
How much should I ask?
Putting an unrealistically high price in your ad will almost certainly mean you’ll waste your weekends waiting for the phone to ring, but put too low a price and a quick sale will leave your pockets lighter than you may like.
- You can research current industry values for your car from CarsGuide. Click here to value your car for FREE.
- It’s also a good idea to check current listings for cars like yours. If you ask more than others, your ad will be less appealing regardless of the condition of your car. If your car is genuinely better than the competing vehicles, you’ll need to articulate this clearly in your photos and the wording of your ad.
- If your car looks to be in similar condition to other competing listings, it is a good idea to set your price slightly beneath theirs to make your ad more appealing and automatically give it prominence on the page.
- If you are prepared to wait to make top dollar for your car, you may choose to match or exceed the advertised price of rival listings.
- It’s also a good idea to set your price slightly above the minimum you are willing to accept, as most buyers will haggle. Most buyers will find a degree of haggling satisfying, and this is one traditional element of the used car selling process that is hard to avoid.
How to protect yourself against scams and fraud
Once your ad has been published, it pays to be aware of the types of dodgy buyers and digital fraudsters that can prey on car sellers. We do our best to eliminate risk of these things, but you should still be careful in the same way you’d be careful who you hand the keys over to for a test drive.
- Only log-on to view or change your ad via a Carsguide.com.au URL such as: www.carsguide.com.au/sell-my-car/edit-or-renew-an-ad
- Never log on to your ad via a link contained within an email – even if the email appears to be from CarsGuide.com.au. This could be what’s known as a phishing email.
- If you receive an email asking you to click on a CarsGuide.com.au link please email us via our Contact Us page.
- If your ad has been accessed and details of your ad changed by an unauthorised person, please contact us immediately.
- If someone tries to keep all communication online (email or text) be wary. If they refuse to talk on the phone, it could indicate they’re trying to make a fraudulent transaction.
- If you receive an email enquiry about your car, call and speak to the person who enquired. If the number is disconnected or they are not reachable be wary. Ask for a contact number.
- Never transfer money to a potential buyer. This could be a scam. For more information on scams, visit our Help and Security Centre.
- If the offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- If you see the CarsGuide.com.au logo on a website, check with us if we do in fact endorse the site and it is a trusted partnership.
- If in doubt, contact our customer service team from the details listed on our site. Never use details from an email you have received. We are happy to help with even more tips for selling your car.
When a potential buyer organises to inspect the vehicle
- Find out their contact details such as name, phone number and if possible address or driver licence number
- Ring the number you are given to check it is this person’s real number
- Check with your insurer that your car insurance covers the person test driving your vehicle
- When you agree to a test drive always write record the driver’s licence details. A smartphone photo is a good idea.
- Retain something of value to the test driver such as their current vehicle’s car keys
- Accompany test driver yourself if you wish
- If have you doubts about the person looking to buy your car don’t rush into the test drive or sale
- Before finalising an exchange, request a second form of identification, preferably from a government agency such as a Medicare card, passport or original copy of a utilities bill (ie Electricity, Water or gas).
Safe payment methods
- The safest payment methods are via Bank Cheque or Cash
- Never send money through Paypal or Western Union.
- Never use an escrow company.
Remember, if you doubt the person offering to buy your vehicle is authentic, don’t be pushed into a sale. It is your car and your asset until you are happy with the terms of sale.