Selling Your Used Car

A simple guide to getting the most money for your used car

Before selling your used car, take a moment to go over the following tips. They are simple suggestions for getting the most value out of your vehicle. Some take a little time, some a little money and some both. You can incorporate as many as you like, whichever ones you prefer, but by putting a little thought into it before you place your used car ad, you can significantly increase your return.

  1. Turn the radio off so it doesn't blast when the prospective buyer turns on the car.
    Let them turn it on and tune in their favorite station, thus making them feel it's "their car".

  2. Make sure your used car is clean inside and out.
    A clean car indicates responsibility and care for the car, suggesting in the potential buyer's mind that the owner also probably maintained the car well. Also, it just looks more appealing to your potential buyer.

  3. Compare prices of other used cars that are the same make as yours.
    Check the maket value on Kelley Blue Book or other service. You can also check used car dealers for competitive pricing.

  4. Sell your used car privately, not to a used or new car dealer.
    It takes a bit more time and energy, but you will make a lot more money on your vehicle that way.

  5. Change the oil before selling.
    One thing almost every buyer does when considering a used car is to check the oil. When they see clean, full oil, they feel the owner of the used car was responsible in its maintenance. Of course, don't ever add or replace any fluids to mask a problem. (See number 10.)

  6. Make sure the tires are properly inflated.
    As with the oil, it shows owner care. Also, during a test drive, it will make the ride smoother and more responsive.

  7. Properly inflate the spare tire.
    If the potential buyer checks the spare and it's flat, they will assume that it's defective or damaged or that you haven't cared for anything else in the car.

  8. Air out your used car.
    If the weather allows, open all the windows or doors and let the air freshen up the inside. Stale, musty or foul smells in a car are an immediate turn off. Be careful with scented fresheners or sprays, though. Too much could also make your potential buyer think you're masking something.

  9. Fill the gas tank.
    If someone sees a full tank of gas, they assume the car has a lot of miles left in it. If the tank is on empty, they think the poor, sad used car is on its last leg.

  10. Be honest.
    This seems obvious, but is very important. When the prospective buyer asks you a question about the car, tell them the truth. This will help them trust you, letting them know the price you're asking for your used car is a fair one.

The above tips don't require too much time nor money, but there are several more things you can do to increase the value of your used car before you put it up for sale if the value of your car is high. Consider getting new tires, rotating the tires or having them aligned. You can also pay to have dents or scratches repaired, tears and stains in upholstery fixed and other improvements that may cost money. Before you invest in imporvements of these kinds, however, you will have to decide if the money invested will increase the final sales price enough so you don't take a loss. If your used car is fifteen years old with 150,000 miles on it, these repairs probably are not wise, but if it's only two years old with 30,000 miles, they could be well worth it.

If you found any of these tips useful, we'd like to hear about it. Let us know your experience selling your used car by sending an e-mail to We may not be able to respond to all your comments, but we may include some of them on the site. Be assured we will not disclose your e-mail address, nor will we sell it, give it away or use it for any reason except responding to your comments.


Good luck getting the most dollars out of your used car!



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