Sell Your Car Yourself, Screw the Dealership – Part 1

2004 Isuzu Rodeo

Let’s face it, you aren’t going to get squat for your car at the dealership so the only way you can maximize your profit is to sell it yourself.  When I was getting ready to buy my wife’s new car we talked to the dealership and they were thinking $3,500 or less, we talked to CarMax and they were willing to put up $4k. Kelley Blue Book value for the car, private party, was $7k in excellent shape. That is a pretty damn big disparity between what the dealerships would give me and what I should be able to get. I decided to say screw the dealerships and sell my car myself.

Don’t make any mistakes, it isn’t a cake walk to sell it on your own, but then again when was last time three grand fell in your lap while you were lazing around doing nothing. While it does take some work it is actually pretty easy to unload that old car in a pretty short amount of time. If you are asking yourself how you to can master the art of being a car salesman, you are in luck but first lets look at how you shouldn’t do it and tomorrow we will look at how you should go about selling your car.

The Old Way

Way back in the day, ok maybe not all that long ago, people who wanted to sell a car on their own had to rely on some pretty in effective methods for selling their cars. One method involves creating a sign you put in the window, or write on the window, advertising your vehicle is for sale. This sounds like a good idea but you are really just hoping that someone in a car passing you on the Interstate is in the market for a car. The likelihood is pretty low that you are going to find that killer buyer randomly driving down the road you are driving on. In method that is the same but different people put signs in the car window then park it near a busy street. This way you are increasing views as well as ensuring someone could stop and actually write down the number to call. The problem here is you are still relying on your buyer just happening on your car, odds are they aren’t out cruising up and down the road looking for a car to buy.

These first two methods are like walking into a crowded room of random people and asking each one of them if they want to buy a car. Odds are you going to go through a whole lot of people before you find one who says they are interested in a car. Even when you find that one person they may want a minivan when you are selling an SUV. You get a lot of looks but interested parties are hard to come by.

The most effective of the “old ways” was to list your car for sale in the classifieds section of your local newspaper. This method works because you are putting your vehicle in a listing where people who want a car will be looking. The problem is words can only be so descriptive. If you say great condition I don’t know it is without coming to see it. If you say it is a red convertible, is it candy apple red, blood red, brick red, or pinkish red? I can’t tell from the words in the ad. In addition to the lack of visual sales appeal a lot of papers charge for your ad to run, that cuts into your profits.

I am not trying to say you shouldn’t do these things.  I immediately put a sign in my cars window when I was selling my car. It didn’t hurt anything and you never know when you might drive by that car thirsty teenager with a wad of cash. If you don’t need to drive your car around by all means park it in an place where you can advertise it’s availability. Just don’t rely on it as your sole method of selling the car, there are such better ways, but more on that tomorrow.

Have you ever successfully sold a vehicle using one of these traditional tactics? Tell us about it in the comments.


1 Odysseustoday May 12, 2010 at 8:13 am

Great post, I agree 100% sell the thing yourself!

I plan on driving my current car (1998 MAZDA 626) for at least 2 more years. I only paid $4,000 for it 3 years ago, and really don’t anticipate anything for it. I am thinking to unload it quick I would just throw a $1,000 sign on it and then start posting it on craigslist.

I added you to my daily e-mails and am looking forward to more tips.
.-= Odysseustoday´s last blog ..How to pick a Graduation Gift =-.

2 Mike - Saving Money Today May 12, 2010 at 8:38 am

The only time I had to sell a car to a third party it was to my father in law so there wasn’t much effort. But we’ve actually reaquired that car so I will be either selling it or my current car. I’ll do the old sign in the window and put an ad up on Criagslist, but I’m interested in what other tips you have.
.-= Mike – Saving Money Today´s last blog ..What Scrooge McDuck Taught Me About Finances =-.

3 Vera May 12, 2010 at 11:18 am

Thanks for this post! The dealership obviously wants to make money on your car, so they always low ball. I sold my grandma’s car a few years back. I posted it on Craiglist and put in ad in the local newspaper. I think this is very unusual, but I had dozens of calls within a day and sold the car in 3 days. So we lucked out!

4 ctreit May 12, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I have sold a car very successfully through classified ads a while ago – before the internet was big. When I bought my current car, I traded in the old one for two reasons. (1) The dealer gave me a price that was pretty close to Kelly’s Blue Book. (2) My old car had some problems and I would have felt bad selling it to a person whom I would know personally. I figure a dealer could fix up the car cheaper and better before selling it on to somebody else.

5 Frank Lerner July 7, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I recently had to sell my honda accord and I got pretty decent amount for it too, almost $1700 more than what the dealer offered me. On top of that while I was at the dealership I was constantly brow beaten and was almost scolded like a little child about small mishaps on a 4 year old car. I could not believe it to be honest the car obviously had been used I drove it daily. See I’m pretty good with maintaining my vehicle some would even say obsessed, so I had every service record since the car had been purchased. I felt I deserved more and it definitely meant I could not sell my car to a dealership, but with my current work schedule I work 6 days a week so posting ads and following u with people who want to buy my car didn’t seem even possible.
I suggest using a auto buying and selling service if you want to sell your car with minimal stress. I used co. called No Hassle Auto Sale and they really made the whole thing a lot more convenient for me and all I had to do was supply the pictures they took care of the making online postings, people calling and emailing for more info, and setting up the meetings with people who seriously were ready to buy. I actually sold it to the second person who saw the car. I’m not certain of the website but try if that’s not it try googling it. Also make sure to be as up front as possible in your ads that way people won’t feel like they’ve wasted their time coming to see your vehicle.

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