Hello Oh Ye Sajeev-full, (WOW – SM)
I bought myself a ’12 VW Golf TDI (4-dr, 6-sp) because, at the time, I was driving 2k miles a month around the CA Bay Area for work. I wanted fun, frugal, and practical all in one car, and the damn thing delivered (best mileage was 57, average was 46).
My wife and I had stable jobs and low expenses otherwise, and I “needed” a new car because I’m a perfect-condition kind of car owner. So, we bought it and financed it through my credit union. The total was just north of $29k, and we owe just north of $25k still.
Then everything changed. She was offered a more career-oriented position in New Orleans, we moved, and concurrently other expenses increased. I found a contract position that doesn’t pay as much as my job in the BA and she has her full-time position.
Our gross income is less; my income is less stable; our rent, car insurance, and health insurance contribution are way higher; and because we both work a mile from our apartment, I’ve found myself driving once a week.
We no longer need two cars, nor can we afford to keep them both, and we’ve settled on getting rid of my Golf. Her car (Smart ForTwo) is made for an urban environment, works well for our needs, and is nearly paid off.
To sell the Golf, should I bring it to the VW dealer? The car is immaculate but it has 12k miles on it already.
Should I try to sell it private party? It’s still within the 30k free maintenance, but why would someone drop $25k in a private party transaction when that’s the entry TDI price at a dealer?
Also, I haven’t sold a car that still has a loan on it. Do I need to get approval from the lien-holder? How’s this process work?
Good question, with simple answers. Definitely sell private party, to get the most money back. Which I assume you’ll need, considering the chances that you are either upside-down on the loan right now, or will be after accepting a dealer’s trade-in offer. But why bother regurgitating information when we can Google stuff on how to sell a car with a lien? And to find a decent appraisal tool to know the fair asking price?
Well then! Now that you’ll sell private party (provided you aren’t more financially desperate than indicated) do some basic things before placing your ad. First, pick out your locations, the forums (VWVortex, perhaps?) and major car websites in your area (probably Cars.com, AutoTrader.com and always Craigslist). Then spend the effort needed to make an appealing advertisement. My somewhat-not-Googlable advice?
- Clean the car inside and out, including the engine (yes, really) before taking photos. Shine up the tires, but don’t make the engine or interior glow with radioactive glee…just make a clean, honest, like-new looking car. Nobody wants to see a Mop ‘N Glow shine on the dash and under the hood. It’s distracting and disingenuous.
- Take photos during dusk or dawn, most smartphones take good photos for this task, if you let the best natural light present the car.
- Write ad copy that tells the vehicle’s story since rolling off the dealer’s lot: why you bought it, what you’ve done to it, how you cared for it and why you are selling. Be truthful, but not desperate or weak. No need to become prey for bloodsucking buyers on the Internet, until absolutely necessary. Put another way, a Simpson’s meme:
And with that, off to the Best and Brightest.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.