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5 Worst Mistakes When Selling Your Car

5 Worst Mistakes When Selling Your Car

It’s time for a new set of wheels. Maybe you’re ready for something newer, faster, bigger. Or maybe your current ride is collecting problems faster than your paycheck can cover. Either way, you need to get as much money as possible from your old car. But stumble into one of these common pitfalls, and you could lose hundreds of dollars or blow the sale entirely.

Here are five of the worst mistakes to make when you are selling a car, and how you can avoid them:

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Skip the Wash


If your car is full of dog hair, stale cheerios and food wrappers, the trash distracts a potential buyer from seeing your car’s actual condition. A washed car always looks better and a clean interior always smells better, making your ride more enticing all around. This also shows the buyer that you take care of your car.

At the very least, do a thorough vacuum and scrubdown. With this illustrated guide, washing and drying will take you about an hour. Plan on a full detailing if your asking price is more than $5,000. This includes shining the interior, washing the windows inside and out, and applying a glossy new coat of wax.

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Head Straight to the Dealer


One of the easiest ways to unload your old car is to trade it in at the car dealer, where selling and buying happen in one step. However, this gets you the least amount of money for your car. Trading in a 2009 Hyundai Elantra (for example) nets you a $5,400 credit at the dealer, but puts $6,800 in your pocket if you sell the car yourself. Overall you’ll save several hundred dollars, even if you need to rent a car for a few days before you buy your next set of wheels.

Use the Wrong Price

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Tips for selling your car

    Many people don’t realize there is more than one blue book — using the right price from the right book makes a big difference. The well-known NADA Guide lists retail prices for dealers and banks but isn’t a good source when selling your own car. Use a site like Kelley Blue Book to find the private party value (the term for selling your car directly to another person). Enter in your zip code, select your car’s options and estimate its condition to determine fair market value.

    Forgetting the Paperwork


    Before you list your car, get all of the paperwork together. Make sure you know where the title is and get two copies of a bill of sale (one for you, one for the buyer). These are often available for free at your local DMV office; if you use a blank template, make sure it’s valid for your state. Keeping a copy of the bill of sale is important for two reasons: first, it helps protect you from liability if the buyer is in an accident before they transfer the title into their name. Second, the “as-is, where-is” clause reiterates that you aren’t including any warranty or making any promises about the condition of the car.  Ultimately, it’s up to the buyer to inspect the car for mechanical issues before they buy.

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    Take a Check

    Tips for selling your car

      Scams with cashier’s checks have been in the news for years. If you aren’t familiar with this rip-off, it goes like this: You get an email from someone that’s living in another town or out of the country or otherwise unavailable. They want to buy your car sight unseen and send you a cashier’s check for the full asking price. It sounds too good to be true because it is — resist the temptation of this seemingly quick sale. But even if a buyer meets you in person, it’s generally not a good idea to accept a cashier’s check (which may be forged) or a personal check (which can have the payment stopped after they drive away). It’s best to take cash only. If you feel uncomfortable driving around with thousands of dollars in your pocket, have the buyer meet you at your bank to finalize the sale.

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      How to Develop a Millionaire Mindset in 6 Simple Steps

      How to Develop a Millionaire Mindset in 6 Simple Steps

      We all like to dream about being financially wealthy. For most people though, it remains a dream and nothing more. Why is that?

      It’s because most people don’t set their mind to achieving that goal. They might not be happy in their current situation but they’re comfortable – and comfort is one of the biggest enemies of growth.

      How do you go about developing that millionaire mindset? By following these simple steps:

      1. Focus On What You Want – And Take It!

      So many people are too timid to admit they want something and go for it. When there is something that you want to accomplish don’t think “I could never actually do that”, think “I could do that and I WILL do that”.

      Millionaires play to win, not to avoid defeat.

      This doesn’t mean to have to become a selfish jerk. What it means is becoming more assertive and honest with yourself. You don’t have to grab off other people. There is a big pot of unclaimed gold in the middle of the table — why shouldn’t you be the one to claim it? You deserve it!

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      2. Become Goal-Orientated

      It’s almost impossible to achieve anything if you don’t set firm goals. Only lottery winners become millionaires overnight. By setting yourself attainable goals, you will get there eventually. Don’t try to get rich quickly — get rich slowly.

      Let’s take the idea of making your first million dollars and expand on what kind of goals you might set to get there. Let’s also say you’re starting at a break-even position – you’re making enough to get by with a few luxuries, but nothing more.

      Your goal for the first year can be having $10,000 in the bank within a year. It won’t be easy but it is doable. Next, you need to figure out the steps you need to take to achieve that goal.

      Always look at ways to make growth before cutbacks. With that in mind, you might want to see if you can negotiate a pay rise with your boss, or if there’s another job out there that will pay better. You might be comfortable in your old job but remember, comfort stunts growth.

      You may also have other skills outside of your workplace that you can monetize to boost your bank balance. Maybe you can design websites for people, at a fee of course, or make alterations to clothes.

      If this is still not enough to make the money you need to save $10,000 in a year, then it’s time to look at cutbacks. Do you have a bunch of old junk that someone else might love? Sell it! Do you really need to spend $10 on your lunch everyday when you could make your own for a fraction of the cost?

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      If you are to become a millionaire, you need to start accumulating money.

      Here’re some tips to help you: How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life

      3. Don’t Spend Your Money – Invest It

      The reason you need to accumulate money is for step three. Millionaires tend to be frugal people, and that’s because they know the true value of money is in investing. Being your own boss goes hand-in-hand with becoming a millionaire. You’ll want to quit your regular job at some point.

      Stop working for your money and make your money work for you.

      Rather than buying yourself a new iPad, that $500 could be used to invest in the stock market. Find the right shares (more on that later), and that money could easily double within a year.

      There’s not just the stock market — there’s also property, and your own education.

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      4. Never Stop Learning

      The best thing you can invest in is yourself.

      Once most people leave the education system, they think their learning days are over. Well theirs might be, but yours shouldn’t be. Successful people continually learn and adapt.

      Billionaire Warren Buffet estimates that he read at least 100 books on investing before he turned twenty. Most people never read another book after they’ve left school. Who would you rather be?

      Learn everything you can about how economics works, how the stocks markets work, how they trend.

      Learn new skills. If you have an interest in it, learn everything you can about it. You’d be surprised at how often, seemingly useless skills, can become extremely useful in the right situation.

      Start developing the habit of learning continuously: How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You

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      5. Think Big

      While I advise to start off with small goals, you absolutely should have a big goal in mind. If you have a business idea, then that is your ultimate goal – to start that business and make a success of it. If you want to invest your way to millions of dollars and do little work other than research, then that is your big goal.

      There is no shame in not achieving a big goal. If you run a business and aim to make $1 million profit in a year and “only” make $200,000, then you’re still significantly ahead of most people.

      Aim for the stars, if you fail you’ll still be over the moon.

      6. Enjoy the Attention

      To be successful, you have to be willing to promote yourself and enjoy the attention to a certain extent. Now the attention doesn’t need to be on yourself, it could be on your brand, but attention definitely attracts money.

      Never be embarrassed to get your name out there. That means finding a spotlight and being brave enough to step right up underneath it.

      If you run a business, try contacting the local papers. You’d be surprised at how amenable they often are to running a story about you and your business, and it’s all free publicity.

      Above all, remember: You control your own destiny. Push hard enough for anything and you’ll get it.

      More About Thinking Smart

      Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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