Want to Sell Your Car? Don’t Do These Three Things

Orange, black, and white "FOR SALE" sign in the passenger window of a red car


Many believe that selling a car is a relatively simple task. You throw up an advertisement on Craigslist, you wait for the calls to roll in, and then you show the vehicle off to prospective buyers.

It’s true that you could limit your process to the basic steps above, but you’ll be doing yourself quite the disservice by following that strategy. If you’re looking to get the best possible value for your used vehicle, you’re going to want to commit more time and effort to selling the vehicle. This includes cleaning the car (and making it presentable to buyers), pricing it accurately, and determining a good place to advertise.

Unfortunately, many car sellers miss the mark, and they actually do several tasks that could potentially hurt the value of their vehicle. Below, you can learn the simple mistakes that can be easily avoided when selling a car. Then, when you decide “I want to sell my car for cash,” you’ll understand everything that goes into the complicated process…


Not Wash

Back door of red vehicle, covered in dirt, with "Wash Me!" written in the dirt

This is quite obvious, but there are apparently some sellers out there who don’t think about the tiny details. A clean, vacuumed vehicle is obviously going to be a lot more appealing to a potential customer than a dirt-covered, trash-filled car. No car buyer wants to have to avoid the Doritos on the ground or tolerate the smell of smoke, and if they’re willing to tolerate these issues, they’re probably going to be looking to get some kind of deal.

That’s why it’s important to clean and wash that vehicle before you show it to any potential buyers. We’re not saying that you should hire a cleaning service (although that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea), as  a simple quick trip through the car wash and a scrubbing of the interior should do the trick.

Some experts, including Sarah Shelton over at LifeHack.org  suggests a fuel detailing if you’re looking to sell that ride for more than $5,000. This would require you to shine the interior and wax the exterior. However, considering how much money you stand to gain (or lose if you avoid this strategy), it’s certainly worth the minimal time and effort.


Inaccurately Price the Vehicle

White plank sitting on a brown piece of wood with a red toy car on one side and gold coins on the other

It can be tough to determine a price for your vehicle, especially since you’re not going to find an exact replica of your car to use as a basis. Still, you could refer to the listings for similar vehicles to get a better idea of what to ask for. Websites like KBB.com or Edmunds.com will allow you to understand the value of a particular vehicle, and even eBay can be a valuable source as you scour through the prices of already-sold cars.

After you’ve done your research, you’ll come across the predicament: what do you price your car? If you ask for too low of a value, you’ll be losing out on a chunk of money. If you ask for too much, you may be scaring away prospective buyers. The best route is aggregating all of the values and prices, and then determining how you should value your vehicle from there.

The next step in the process is advertising, and there are several strategies you should be following to maximize your vehicle’s value. Nerissa Avisado of VisiHow.com explains that you’ll want to showcase your vehicle in a venue that will garner as many views as possible. Unless you’re trying to advertise to a specific crowd, you’ll want to make sure your message can get out to as many people as you can.

Avisado suggests an exposure that doesn’t cost money. There are several websites that will promise to advertise your vehicle, but it will cost you a fee. You can showcase your car organically, but you’ll want to make sure that your advertisement is professional. Make sure it’s eye-catching, and avoid any typos. You can then hang the homemade signs at stores, and you can use the electronic version to post the ad on Craigslist.


Sell During the Winter

Back-to-front view of a grey sedan driving on a snowy road with snow covered trees surrounding itNow, some circumstances may force you to sell a vehicle as soon as possible, in which case the timeframe will be irrelevant. However, if you’re in no rush to sell your car, you should be aware of the best times to make that sale.

Winter is typically a time of year you’ll want to avoid, as budgets are often tight around the holidays. Furthermore, most buyers don’t want to purchase a used car and subject it to the icy and slushy winter roads. Plus, the weather is just generally gloomier during the winter months, limiting the opportunities for potential customers to give your car a test drive.

It’s important to remember that you have all of the power as a seller. There’s no rush to sell that vehicle, and you can wait around until you secure the best possible deal. That’s why you shouldn’t hesitate to start advertising your vehicle right away, even if the car still needs to undergo several repairs or touch-ups.

All of the previously mentioned advice is rather obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many car sellers ignore these lessons and do their own thing. They may be missing out on an incredible deal for their vehicle by being lazy with the process. A used car that is dirty, inaccurately priced, and sold during a bad time of the year will surely sell for less than a vehicle that was previously owned by a dedicated and committed seller.


These suggestions aren’t particularly time consuming, especially when you focus on the money you could be making by dedicating the time and effort. When it comes down to it, a potential customer is going to trust a seller who hasn’t taken care of their vehicle, while they’re likely to avoid the seller who let their used car fall apart. Be this former seller and start working on your used car right away. This way, you can be assured that you’ll be getting the best possible price for your used car.