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Used Car Sales

Get advice on how to navigate the world of used car sales.

Buying or selling a used car can seem daunting, but knowing some basic rules can help ease the process. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Buying or selling a used car can seem daunting, but knowing some basic rules can help ease the process.

Selling or buying a used car can be a daunting process. For most, a car is a large purchase and mistakes made in the selling or buying process can lead to substantial financial loss. When it comes to buying a used car, the process can become even more complicated. How can you sell your used car with the minimum effort and the maximum profit? How can you find the best deals on used cars but still be sure that the car you're buying is reliable and safe? In this article, we look at some of the best methods and tips for buying and selling used cars.

Selling a Used Car

There are many factors to consider when selling your used car. The first step is figuring out how much your car is worth, so you know how much to ask for. Car appraisal guides like Kelley Blue Book factor in the make, model and age of your car to determine an estimated value. This is not a hard and fast price, though. Your individual car's history and condition also affects the price.

The next step is deciding how to sell your car. Basically, there are two options: sell your car to a dealer or sell it privately. Selling your car to a dealer saves time and effort. Make sure, though, to take the car to multiple dealers to ensure you find the best price. Selling your car privately may take more time and effort, but it can lead to a bigger profit. Once you've made your decision, the final step is to prepare your car for sale. This includes washing the interior and exterior of the car, cleaning out trash and junk that has accumulated, and generally making the car look its best. It's also necessary to begin compiling maintenance records so you can have them on hand for potential buyers.

Tips for Selling a Used Car

While there is no magic trick that makes selling a used car effortlessly profitable, there are a number of car selling tips that can make things easier and may help you earn a couple of extra bucks. If you sell your car privately and you choose to place a classified ad in a print newspaper or online, it's a good idea to make your ad stand out with a nice picture of your car -- don't forget to wash the car before you take the picture. Being willing to negotiate is another good way to make the car selling process easier and more profitable. Don't cave into the very first offer you get, and don't be afraid to allow for some wiggle room in your asking price. It's also a good idea to use your intuition when meeting with prospective buyers and try to sell to someone who is reasonable and honest -- this makes for fewer problems during and after the sale.

Which Used Cars to Sell

The best used car to sell really depends on your situation. There's no formula that is going to tell you precisely if selling your used car is going to yield an acceptable profit. However, there are lists that compile some of the best values in used cars, and selling a quality car is the best way to get a quality price. The 2001-2005 Hyundai Elantra, the 2000-2005 Toyota Camry, and the 2000-2005 BMW 3 Series are three cars that Edmunds.com, a popular car buying guide, names as some the best values in used cars. Consulting Consumer Reports is a reliable way to find out not only the value, but also the durability of any given car. This can give you a good idea of which cars have a lasting value and which tend to depreciate in value.

Used Car Sales By Owners

The best place to look for used car sales by owners is in your local classified ads. Scanning through the classified ads in your city or community's local newspaper can lead you to a great deal from someone who lives close by. Checking out classified ads on the Internet can give you a broader view of the cars on the market and help you to find a better price, but it may require you to travel a little out of your way to view or purchase your dream car. Automotive.com is a helpful resource that focuses specifically on auto sales and allows you to customize your search to your ZIP code.

Buying a Used Car

The Federal Trade Commission has some insightful advice for used car shoppers. It suggests using a car inspection checklist (these can easily be found in automotive magazines or automotive Web sites -- for example, MSN offers a fairly comprehensive automotive checklist) and requesting all maintenance records from the previous owner so that you can familiarize yourself with the car's history and tune-up requirements. The FTC also suggests taking the car on rigorous test drives, being sure to test it in different kinds of traffic and driving conditions. Finally, it's a good idea to take the car to a professional mechanic to have it checked out.

In terms of cost, the FTC reminds people that there is more to keep in mind than the car's price alone. The type of car and the age and condition of the car all affect the cost of insurance. Today's constantly rising gas prices are also a consideration for any driver. Looking for a used car that is also gas friendly may cost a little extra, but it could save you money in the long run.

Online Used Car Sales

There are a number of Web sites dedicated to online car sales and listings. Automotive.com allows you to search for specific makes and models, and even features a ZIP code search function so you can view local car listings. Other Web sites like Autotrader.com and Usedcars.com offer similar services. These Web sites often offer valuable information about used car maintenance and the used car market.

Other Web sites that are not specifically devoted to cars can also be good resources. Cragislist offers free classified ads, so there are lots of private car sale listings for every major city. Even Ebay has a section of its site dedicated to used car auctions, which presents an even greater opportunity to find a great deal and possibly even a unique vehicle.

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