by Heather Conary
When you buy your next car, you might think about trading your older one in to a dealership. While this is convenient, and may be the best option for you, it can be more lucrative to sell your car as a private party. Using the same process and techniques that dealerships use to sell cars, you can make sure you get top dollar for your investment!
In Part 1, we talked about how to get your car in tip-top selling condition. In Part 2, we’ll talk about how to get your information organized and ready!
To get a printable checklist to walk through Part 2: Gather All Your Information, visit www.illuminationdesign.com/askpatty
Gather All Your Information
Having your information gathered and at hand will be convenient when you get ready to write up the description and advertise your car. It also allows you to refresh your memory to be able to answer any questions that you may be asked about the vehicle.
To start, find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) for your car. This will be a 17-digit number (for any car produced after the early 1980s), and acts as a serial number for your car. This can usually be found on your dash or on the driver’s side door jamb. If you have difficulty finding it, check your insurance cards or any service history paperwork, it’s usually on there.
Next, gather the basic information on your vehicle:
What’s the transmission (is it a manual or automatic)?
• What’s the engine (V6? V8?)?
• Note the mileage.
• What features and options does your car have, like luxury features like power windows or locks, sunroof or moonroof, leather or heated seats; or convenience features like a remote starter or remote door locks?
• Note when the inspection runs out.
• What is the gas mileage? If you have not calculated this, check your manual.
To get all of your information ready, you’ll want to do a full walk-around of your car. Start from one corner of the vehicle exterior, and work your way around the outside slowly.
• Note anything problems or wear that stands out (dings, scratches, dents, rust), as well as the location and severity. Things like these will not prevent you from selling a car, as long as you’re honest about it.
• Note anything special about your car: non-factory wheels, modifications, or other enhancements you’ve made.
• Note any major work that you see that will need to be done in the near future. If the tire treads are low, this is a good indicator that new ones will be needed soon.
Once you’ve completed this, follow the same process for the interior.
• Are there any rips, tears, holes or stains in the seats?
• Is the interior paneling discolored or scratched?
• Note any non-factory upgrades, like seat covers, floor mats, or audio systems.
Trunk, Engine & Underneath
Follow the same process for your trunk, engine compartment, and underneath.
• Is the trunk fabric stained or torn anywhere?
• Is the spare tire missing?
• Is the engine compartment clean?
• Have you had any performance parts or upgrades?
• Do you notice any leaks? Are there puddles under your car after you’re parked somewhere?
Are you including any extras (such as a second set of tires, or snow tires)? Is the warranty still valid on this car? Are there extra keys included?
You may drive this car frequently (or even every day), but you will still want to take a test drive for this specific purpose. Go without passengers, especially children, and keep the radio off.
• Listen for any noises, while driving, accelerating, idling, braking or turning.
• Look on the dash for any indicator lights.
• Check your gauges and make sure they are all within normal limits.
History & Maintenance
If you have had your services all done through a shop or dealership, gather copies of your service history (oil changes, inspections, maintenance) and records. Include any receipts for additional parts you may have purchased elsewhere (such as wipers and tires). Knowing that a vehicle has been well-maintained can make the difference to some buyers! If you have had your work done through a shop or dealership, but have not maintained your copies of the records, try calling them - most places can and will pull off a copy of your service history for you.
Stay tuned for Part 3, where we’ll talk about taking great photos!