5 Things to Avoid When Selling Your Car Online

January 19th, 2016 by


If sell my car is on your to do list, then you’re in luck! Selling your car privately is easier than ever thanks to the internet. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a cake-walk. The only thing websites like Craigslist have done is make the advertising process easier; the amount of effort put in to selling a car remains the same. Which means if it’s time to sell your car, do it right and be prepared to put in the required amount of work. There are also some things you are going to want to avoid when trying to sell your car online. Some of these might seem obvious, and some might not. Regardless, they are all things you should avoid when trying to sell your vehicle.

Here’s five things to avoid when trying to sell your car online.

Not Cleaning Your Car

This should be an obvious one, but based on some of the ads out there; apparently it’s not. Not cleaning your car is a surefire way to have your car sit in purgatory on Craigslist for months. Think about it, what is the one thing self-respecting retail stores have in common? Cleanliness and order, all of their products are organized, neat, and clean. This is because they know customers would rather shop in a clean and orderly store, as opposed to a disorganized and dirty one.

You should think of it in the same way when it comes to selling your car. You are trying to appeal to the consumer, and the consumer wants to buy a clean and organized product. Therefore, it’s time to take it through a car wash. It doesn’t matter how old or weathered it looks, cleaning it up will help make it look better in your advertisement. That means the inside too, because people are going to want to see pictures of the inside as well. Polish the inside of the doors, the dashboard, seats (if they are leather), steering wheel/column, and anything else you can make look shiny. Just like polishing the outside of your car, this will make it pop more in the pictures you take. Don’t forget to clean out all the trash and vacuum it too, no one will be interested in buying a car that has a burger wrapper on the floor. Also, make sure to clean underneath the hood of your car. Get any corrosion off the battery, and any debris or built up grease that might be hanging around. Thoroughly clean your car.

This is one of the more obvious but most important factors when it comes to selling your car online. Remember, online the only way people are going to see your car is the pictures you put up. Those pictures are all potential buyers have when first deciding if they should come and check your car out or not, and making sure your car looks its best will help make a good first impression.

This is an example of a bad car picture; you can't fully see what it looks like because of the snow on the hood and roof.

This is an example of a bad car picture; you can’t fully see what it looks like because of the snow on the hood and roof.

Bad Pictures

Speaking of pictures, taking good and transparent pictures for your advertisement is important. Don’t get lazy and snap a few quick pictures with your phone, set up a little photo-shoot with your car. Since, like I said, these pictures are your only chance to make a good first impression, you need to make your car look good. Make sure you have the proper lighting, don’t take it at sunset or in your garage.

Also, take a lot of pictures. The more of your car the potential buyer can see online the more likely they are going to come see it in person, and hopefully purchase it. Take pictures from different and interesting angles, a picture from the backseat diagonally toward the steering wheel could make for an eye-catching look. Take a few shots under the hood too, that way people can see that your car is in good condition. Essentially, take pictures of the important things potential buyers will want to see. Exterior shots that cover the whole outside of the car, enough inside shots to show them the overall condition, and pictures under the hood.

Also, don’t avoid any rust spots or dents while taking pictures; you need to be as transparent as possible with your advertisement and these pictures. Think about how you would react if you saw a really nice car online and then drove out to see it, only to realize it had a huge dent you couldn’t see thanks to a trickster with a camera. Not only would this infuriate the potential buyer, but also give them a reason to knock your asking price down a bit.

A Dishonest Advertisement

Whether it’s through your words or your photos, you need to be as transparent as possible. That means no lying, misleading, or cheating with your advertisement. If your car has a dent on the side, or a different color quarter panel, don’t hide that. Show it, and explain what happened and how/when it got fixed. This is more likely to get you better traffic then the guy’s ad next to yours who only has a closeup of the front of the car because the rest of it’s a rust-bucket.

This goes for the rest of your advertisement too; don’t lie or leave anything out. Be completely honest and transparent. Make sure to list in your advertisement if your car has had any recent mechanical work done to it, or has been in any accidents during or before your ownership. Don’t lie about the mileage, give a precise one. Advertise if it has any type of issues, no matter how minor they might be.

Bottomline is, be honest. If not, you are only shooting yourself in the foot. 90% of the time potential buyers can hear, see, or find out any problems when they come to look at or test drive the car. If you lie about the mileage or any other easily recognizable facts, you are just asking for trouble. They will see you falsely advertised your vehicle and just walk away, or ask for a reduction in price.

Setting an Unreasonable Price

Finding out the book value of your car is a great estimate for the price of your car; and that’s all it is. An estimate. Therefore, this estimate should not be a concrete price. If your car is valued by Kelly Bluebook at $10,000 in near-new condition, but you’ve put on over 150,000 miles and it’s been in two accidents with an engine that makes a funny noise, chances are it won’t sell for $10,000. The price you set needs to be a reasonable one, so make sure when you find out this estimate, you adjust the price accordingly.

Speaking of adjusting the price, a sure-ire way to have your car not sell is be firm on your price. If you know how much you put into it and that your car still runs silky-smooth with absolutely zero problems, and it’s a brand someone will want, then chances are it will sell at the price you want it to.

However, having that OBO tacked on next to your advertisement is sure to draw in more potential buyers, giving you more chances to sell your car. Especially if it’s placed next to a well-written and honest ad with good pictures, and the potential buyer sees you are willing to work with them on a price.

Leaving the Paperwork Until the Last Minute

The fifth and final thing to avoid when trying to sell your car is waiting until last minute to get the paperwork together. If you have a potential buyer show up, you want to be ready with the title and any other paperwork required by your state. Don’t rush to find the title an hour before the buyer is supposed to show up, because chances are you won’t find it in time.

Being prepared with the paperwork will not only make your life easier along with the transaction, but the buyer will appreciate it as well.

Overall Transparency is Key

Being able to sell your car all boils down to honesty. If you want to sell your car and have intentions of making it an honest sale, then you won’t make 4/5 of the mistakes mentioned above. As far as not cleaning your car goes, that’s on you. Just remember, people are more likely to buy a car that looks like it’s been taken care of rather than one that just got moved from the backyard to the end of the driveway.

It really isn’t that hard when it comes to avoiding these five things when trying to sell your car online. If you do avoid them, your life will be a lot easier when it comes time for a potential buyer to look at your car, and you will have a higher chance of selling your car.

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