5 Ways to Prep Your Car or Truck for Sale

We all know that vehicles lose value the second you drive them off the lot, and they continue to depreciate as time goes by. If you’re willing to buy a special car, keep it in mint condition, and wait about 30 years, it might become a classic eventually, but most of us don’t buy cars with this mentality. Rather, we see our automobiles as utilitarian objects or even toys that are meant to be used, enjoyed, and then traded off for something newer within just a few years. As a result, you will frequently find yourself in the unenviable position of having to sell a car. Of course, you can always make things easy on yourself and trade it in when you buy a new car, but the cost of convenience can be high. If you want to get the greatest possible value from your car and walk away with cash in-hand, your best bet is to engineer a private sale. Here are a few tips for prepping your car or truck.

  1. Clean and detail. The place to start is by getting your car in sale-worthy condition. This doesn’t mean spending an arm and a leg on repairs, though – that money will not come back to you at the time of the sale. You’re better off making sure the car looks great and then selling it “as is”, although you should probably be clear about any known issues at the time of sale in order to avoid a lawsuit later. If it’s not running, you might want to do the bare minimum to ensure that a buyer can drive it away (safely). But for the most part, you will not see a return on investment from repairs. What could net you a sale or even a higher price, though, is a car that looks shiny and new thanks to a thorough washing, waxing, and overall detailing.
  2. Do your homework. Before you select your asking price (not to mention your bottom line), it’s important to do some research in order to ensure that you’re asking a fair price and that your expectations are appropriate. You can start by looking up the value of your car or truck on Kelley Blue Book ( with information about the make, model, year, mileage, and general condition. But from there you should consider how similar vehicles are selling on sites like CarMax and eBay Motors, just for example. This can help you to temper expectations and perhaps make a speedy sale.
  3. Get records in order. When you sell your vehicle privately, your immaculate record-keeping will finally pay off. Showing that the car has a clear history of maintenance and repair will give you the leverage you need to negotiate a higher asking price.
  4. Take photos. Gone are the days when you could reasonably expect to sell a car by putting a “for sale” sign on it and parking it on the street. If you want the best chance of selling now you have to get savvy with online listings. This will require you to provide pertinent information about your vehicle, as well as post several photos for buyers. It may seem like overkill to take pictures from every angle, inside and out, but this is what buyers want. They expect a virtual tour of your car before they’ll even consider making an offer in person.
  5. List wisely. There is no shortage of website available to help you sell your car or truck, such as CarMax, eBay Motors, andcom, just to name a few. The trick is selecting the outlet that is most likely to deliver a swift and profitable sale, so you’ll want to do a little checking around to find the listing site that is best suited to your vehicle, location, and asking price.
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