Hammer Time: A Time To Sell

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time a time to sell

Mark writes


We will be buying a new car soon and that will leave us with an extra one. My experience selling a car myself makes me think we don’t really have the motivation to do it ourselves this time around.

The car is located in CT and is a White 2007 Hyundai Sonata SE with ~73k miles on it. The only option is the Sunroof. For whatever reason the side mirrors seem to attract having the outer housing broken, they sre still functional but the housing rattles.. I’ve replaced one, unpainted grey , and will be replacing the other shortly. There are no other issues with the car as I can tell. The emissions test is due next month, so I’ll have to have that done.

Any tips?

Are you paid more than $300 an hour? If not it would make a lot of sense to sell the Sonata yourself. The difference between trade-in and retail for your Sonata comes to $7,325 vs. $10,850 according to the Manheim Market Report. That comes to $3525 which doesn’t include all those extra hours you must work for Uncle Sam and his state ‘sales tax’ sibling. Your real savings if the Sonata is retailed is well into the $4000+ range. Lucky for you, the selling process is pretty simple.

There are three simple steps to getting that premium return:

1) Bring the vehicle to ‘Day One’.2) Collect your service records3) Advertise and ‘be nice’.Step One: Keeping it Clean

First off get all the substandard crap off your car. Would you buy a car with rattles right near where you sit? Go here, here or ask this guy and find yourself the real McCoy. They’re cheap.

Second, get the vehicle washed and detailed by a reputable place. You want to eliminate all vestiges of your existence on this vehicle. Why? Because clean cars sell for more money. Folks want a near-new car. Not Uncle Joey’s smelly ride. Spend $100 to $200 on a stem to stern cleansing of your ride.

Finally to bring it to Day One, you may want to consider a ‘dent doctor’. If you only have very minor scratches and dings, skip it. But if the car has met too many objects in it’s time, you can concentrate on a panel or two that is heavily dented. Get three estimates, check references, and have it done. It’s a lot cheaper than most folks realize.

Step Two: Get Records

The second step in this process is likely the easiest one of all. Get records. The place where you get your oil changed? They have a record of your car. Same with the place where you got your tires. Dealers and independents are always a big plus. But if you want to get the premium return, fill in the holes by having the other places fax you those records most folks don’t bother to keep. Nothing eliminates a consumer’s uncertainty like a good track record of routine maintenance.

Step Three: Advertise

Finally when you sell… ignore the BIG CAP DEALER ADS and acr, on, ymed, li, st, ings. Take about 12 good pictures and offer a quick synopsis of your vehicle. Keep it to no more than 3 sentences.

“We have diligently maintained this vehicle since Day One. It has been garage kept, dealer maintained, and comes with a clean Carfax history. $10,800 Phone # XXX – XXX -XXXX”

If you don’t like giving your number then sign up for ‘Google Voice’ and then have that number forwarded to your cell phone. You can also screen wankers of varying sorts by having it record the messages from the prospective customers and then calling them back. I’ve eliminated virtually all the nutters by doing this when I’m on vacation.

Autotrader can be a great source. Craigslist offers plenty of exposure for a day or so. Other places to consider are local community web sites (your county/ city.com), the workplace, university newspapers and bulletin boards, supermarkets, and in some markets the daily newspaper. Despite the technology of the modern day, I have found that local and personal connections tend to be particularly strong. Don’t forget them.

Finally when it comes time to sell… what should you do? Keep the kiddies away. When an appointment is made you want your buyer to have some quiet time with the vehicle. Everyone has their risk tolerances. So at the very least either write down their license information or be willing to go for the ride.

When it comes to finalize the deal, each state offers their own Bill of Sale form. In practice you can take their linked form and do it yourself. But two stipulations I would always put down are ‘this vehicle is sold AS/IS with no warranty expressed or implied.’ and ‘Buyer agrees to obtain insurance for the vehicle before it leaves the lot’. You want to avoid any potential headaches in the future and expressing the transfer of your vehicle in writing is an absolute must.

Have you been paid yet? Oh yeah. That part. The only time you should ever accept a cashier’s check is if you go directly to the bank that issued it.. and get cash. Make sure you do this before giving the keys and title away. Finally if your sales price is over $10k in cash, your bank may file a Form 8300. This is not a big deal. Auto auctions, car dealerships and jewelers collectively file thousands of these forms weekly as do their banks. The IRS is far more concerned about professional money launderers than Joe Blow from Idaho.

Now that you have that nice five figured sum in your bank account, enjoy it. You’ve earned it. Don’t forget to tip the author.

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4 of 39 comments
  • Super555 Super555 on Mar 23, 2011

    Thanks for the great info guys! After reading your suggestions I came up with an ad for Craigslist and will have a link to a photo album. What do you guys think about my ad? 2006 Dodge Ram SLT MegaCab. 66,000 miles. Original owner. Never wrecked and has a clean CarFax. Heavy duty 2500/3500 frame, 4 wheel ABS disc brakes and rear axles. Towing package with hitch/step rear bumper and digital trailer brake controller included. Cold front and rear A/C, power windows, power door locks, power sliding rear window, tilt steering wheel, cruise control and dark legal window tint by professionals. 345 horsepower/375 torque Hemi 5.7 liter V8 with 5 speed automatic transmission. Oil changed every 3,000 miles with Castrol Syntec along with air filter. 17" polished 8 lug aluminum wheels and fairly new Goodyear Fortera tires w/Dupont Kevlar. The tires have lifetime free rotations at Discount Tire. Immaculate Inferno Red Metallic clearcoat paint with some door dings. Parked underground in covered parking at work and covered at the house. Comes with Ram MegaCab truckcover. Slate grey interior with uplevel bucket seats/uplevel cloth and power driver's seat ($900 extra when new). Has dual level front center console and upgraded Infinity sound system with 6 disc indash CD changer. Mopar bedcover, rear mudflaps and OEM floormats. Great truck for a family man! The MegaCab has as much rear legroom as a Lincoln TownCar limousine. Plenty of room for carseats or booster seats and the mother-in-law's wide ass! Put your bicycle in the truck bed and when needed for security it can be rolled onto and fit on the floor in front of the rear seat no problem! Rear seats can fold 70/30 or 100% down with a wide closing storage bin behind them. Six cupholders! $14,500 negotiable. Buy privately owned with no sales tax and save $800 over buying from a dealer!

    • See 1 previous
    • Bill Safreed Bill Safreed on Mar 23, 2011

      In Ohio the state takes their tax when the title is transferred. Tough to get out of unless everyone lies about the sale price.

  • Super555 Super555 on Mar 23, 2011

    Thanks Steve! Sounds good! Will make the changes!

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