How to sell your car online, the right way


If you’ve ever searched for a used car online, you probably already know that the majority of people put very little thought into the ads they create.

The process for most typically consists of a five-minute photoshoot with a 1.3 megapixel camera phone, followed by a twenty-five word description in the form of one long run-on sentence.

But if you actually want to sell your car quickly and for the highest possible price, it’s going to take a little bit of planning and effort. Think of it this way though: that extra couple hours you spend taking good pictures and writing a detailed description will help your ad stand out from all the others.

Step 1: Choose the right sales platform

All online classified sites have their strengths and weaknesses. Autotrader, for example, is a great “vehicle only” platform but tends to mix your ad in a tsunami of dealer ads.  Craigslist and Kijiji are great no cost options but be prepared for an onslaught of lowballers and the occasional text message asking you to ship the car to Nigeria. If you’re more of a gambler and don’t mind the fees, auction style sites such as Ebay and might be for you.

Step 2: Take plenty of high quality pictures

It’s 2014, so you really have no excuse for poor quality images. Get yourself a good quality camera (if you don’t already) and take at least 20 images of the interior, exterior, and engine bay. Make sure your car is clean (because nobody wants to buy a car covered in pigeon turd) and take it somewhere nice for the photo shoot instead of the closest Burger King parking lot.

Step 3: Write a detailed description

“RUNS GR8, LOW KM” isn’t going to work unless your trying to sell your car to a 16-year-old.

Say how long you’ve had the vehicle, what work you’ve done, what’s good about it, and also what’s bad. It’s important to be honest because the more you disclose about the vehicle, the more the buyer will trust that you’re not completely hiding a lemon. Also, make sure to break the text up so that people can quickly find the information they are looking for.

Aside from your car’s year, make, and model, here are some things you will likely be asked about: 

• Mileage on the vehicle (and average gas mileage) 
• Maintenance records 
• Accident history 
• Recent repairs (and what still needs work) 
• Number of previous owners 
• VIN number 

Step 4: Set your price

It’s important to research how much other people are selling similar cars for. Just because you think your vehicle is worth a certain amount, doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Set your price too high, and you’ll probably wait weeks before getting even a single response. Remember that buyers have thousands of other cars to choose from, so if you price it too high they’ll just look elsewhere. Of course, if your vehicle has exceptionally low mileage or wear you might be able to justify a slightly higher cost.

Step 5: Respond to inquiries quickly

Promptly replying to people will help you sell your car much quicker. Most buyers end up contacting multiple sellers, so the quicker you respond, the better the chance they will buy your car. Keep your guard up when receiving and responding to inquiries. The marketplace is full of scammers, so if someone offers you more money than you asked for, or offers to transfer money through PayPal, it’s more than likely a scam.

Finally, delete your ad once the sale is complete – no one wants to find their dream car only to find out it’s already been sold.

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