No matter how many cars you’ve bought and sold in your life, you still make mistakes each time that cost you money. Or some mistakes cost you time…time spent waiting for the buyer. Here’s 8 tips to help you get a car sold in the Portland market for max money and in as little time as possible:
1. Never, ever, under any circumstances should you trade your car in. Ever, ever, ever. No exceptions. Don’t believe for a fraction of a second the “valuation” used car managers throw at you, no matter how badly you want to jump into that new or used car THAT day. If they’re offering you something unusually high, it’s because they’re making boat loads on the sale of the “new” car. Walk away.
2. Avoid Craigslist at your peril. Sure, there’s scams, but with some common sense (accept a cashier’s check at the buyer’s bank; meet at a neutral place like a shopping mall parking lot; don’t work with anyone with an out-of-state number) you will get the most $ on Craigslist for your car. Why? Because the majority of buyers are there (Portland’s Craigslist is the 6th largest in the country), and more buyers bid up the price.
3. Try Auto Trader, but only after 2 weeks on Craigslist. Yes, Auto Trader can expose you to another 15% or 20% more buyers, but their listing fees aren’t worth it unless you’ve “struck out” on a free Craigslist ad for more than 2 weeks.
4. Always report the sale to the DMV. Just signing the title and handing it to the new owner DOES NOT CONSTITUTE TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP. The new owner has to title the new car, or you have to report the sale. Report the sale immediately online here: https://www.oregondmv.com/Online/Sell.htm.
5. Top off fluids and change the oil. When you’re buying a used car, you should always pull out the dipstick and look at the oil – is it old and dirty? Does it have water/gas/metal shavings in it? This is the same thing a person will do with your dipstick, so change your oil. A professional oil change can be less than $20 (look for coupons), and usually includes checking your other fluid levels too.
6. Fix simple problems. A “check engine” light is an obvious red flag for any buyer, so if you’ve got one, visit a mechanic. If it’s simple, fix it. If not, at least you’ll be prepared to honestly explain the problem and solution to potential buyers.
7. Fix lights and add finishing touches. If any of your lamps are out, replace the bulbs: They’re cheap. If you’re missing the owner’s manual, look for one online, either through eBay or this list of manual linksfrom Edmunds.com. For any other missing bits or pieces of plastic, check local junkyards.
8. Get records in order. A tidy and organized maintenance history implies you’ve taken care of your car. A vehicle history report from Carfax runs $35 (you can get 5 reports for $45, so you might cut a deal with friends and save) and shows you have nothing to hide. It reveals things like number of previous owners and length of ownership, accident and lien history, plus warranty and recall info. Don’t jump for a Carfax report immediately, though. Consider splitting the cost with a buyer if he shows serious interest.