When it comes to buying used cars, nearly 100 percent of used car shoppers start their search online, according to McKinsey’s 2013 Retail Innovation Consumer Survey. Sometimes they even seal the deal online. If you want to sell your car, which site should you use, and how can you get the most money for it? Here, Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker, co-hosts and producers of the Everyday Driver car review films and podcast, demystify the process and share their secrets.
Pick the Right Platform
Deeken and Schmucker suggest choosing a site based on the type of car you’re selling. They say craigslist is a good option for reasonably priced autos. “If a car is selling for less than $5,000, try craigslist first,” says Deeken. “Ads are free to post and buyers are looking more at a price point than a particular kind of car.”
Primp Your Car
Give your car a good scrub. “It seems obvious, but many people don’t bother washing their vehicle,” says Deeken. When it’s showcased alongside other cars, you’ll want yours to appear bright and well-kept. Invest in a wax job, as well. “A $100 to $150 car detail is worth a couple thousand extra dollars when you sell it,” says Schmucker.
Stage a Shoot
While your smartphone’s camera could cut it, you’re better off using a good digital camera or enlisting help from a photographer friend.
Car buying is aspirational, so shoot your vehicle in a setting that will appeal to potential buyers. “Drive to a neighborhood full of expensive houses and photograph your car in front of a large, beautiful home,” says Schmucker.
Selling a truck or 4×4? Appeal to buyers’ adventurous sides and shoot off-road, with mountains or lakes in the distance. Advertising an executive sedan? Take it to an upscale city center and photograph the car in front of a gleaming high-rise or stately bank building.
Take sharp, low-angle photos to establish the car as the dominant subject. And the more images, the better. “Extra photos will help you avoid random questions from potential buyers,” says Deeken. Snap photos from a front corner, the opposite rear corner, the interior and the seats. And if there are any blemishes or imperfections, shoot them, too.
Write a Winning Listing
“Make a checklist of things that you would look for when buying a used car, and use that as a guide to write your listing,” says Schmucker. Include information about the car’s history, your reasons for selling it and a bit about your lifestyle. “A person’s story can sell a car and put a buyer at ease,” says Deeken. Be upfront about any issues and past repairs.
Seal the Deal
Meet potential buyers in public places, and ask for a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance before you allow anyone to test drive. “Nobody will be offended—they will probably appreciate your line of thinking and thank you for it,” says Schmucker.
Looking for a new vehicle to replace your current one? Check out these 3 Things To Look For When Test-Driving A Car.