Time to move your motor on? Well, there’s your first mistake. Never say ‘time to move my motor on’ in a car ad. Let Shed guide you through the psychology of buying and selling cars with his Top Car Selling Tips…
First, own your car. Seems obvious, but you’d be amazed how many sellers don’t. It’s all a bit odd, really, because despite rumours to the contrary, it is perfectly possible to sell a car with unpaid HP instalments as long as you sort it out with the finance providers first.
But the presence of outstanding finance is something that some vendors prefer you to find out for yourself, ideally when they’ve had plenty of time to get far away after the ‘sale’.
Assuming you do own the car, do you also have its vehicle registration certificate? Again, many don’t. Nor, it would seem, do they have the time to get one. Which is extraordinary.
There may be a perfectly good reason why you don’t have the VRC. You may have left it in your pants for washing, it spontaneously combusted, the ink fell off it, etc. These are all entirely plausible excuses.
Go through all your car’s papers in advance so you don’t get surprised by any untoward appearances during the paperwork reveal.
Sort out your ad
Alright, we’re going to assume you do have all the paperwork and you’ve wisely chosen JustMotors as your selling medium. Now it’s time to tell people about your car.
Potential buyers might be coming from a long way away, and may well be bigger than you. So, unless you get some sort of kick from the idea of confronting a tattooed hulk who is on medication or day release, describe your car as accurately as possible.
Stick to the facts. Quote the year, the number plate suffix, how many months are left on the NCT and how much tax there is. And the mileage. Put in the mileage. What is the point of ‘forgetting’ to include the mileage? It’s going to come out eventually, so why not at the beginning? If a mileage box isn’t filled in on any ad I’m looking at, the default assumptions that the number is big.
Be as honest about the bad stuff on your car as you are about the good stuff. Under-describing a car will pique a buyer’s curiosity much more than one that spouts meaningless gibberish like ‘first to see will buy’.
Don’t use the phrase ‘easy fix’ to describe a job that clearly isn’t easy, eg. ‘tiny rust patch on sill, easy fix’ or ‘bottom end a bit grumbly, easy fix’ or ‘only goes into third on alternate Tuesdays, easy fix’. If those fixes really were that easy, you’d have easily fixed them yourself by now.
Rather than 14 subtle angles of the outside and nothing else, take some interior pics – that’s the part of the car we like to look at. Shots down the side of the car are actually quite useful for showing the absence of dents, but contrary to popular myth, they do not demonstrate to potential buyers that you are a used car pro and therefore not to be messed with.
If you live in Ireland’s most dangerous estate, drive to a less daunting background. If you’re going to photograph the engine, take the top layer of dirt off it first. If you’re going to cover up your numberplate, make an effort to make it look like you spent more than ten seconds doing it. If your pics ‘come out blurry’, take some more that aren’t. If it’s dark and raining, wait until it isn’t.
Set the price
Price your car realistically with a bit of haggle room built in. Always have an absolute lowest price in mind, and stick to it. Be strong and make yourself believe that you don’t really need or even want to sell your car. Don’t put ‘or best offer’ or some equally needy-sounding rider on there. You will only get abused by a succession of ludicrous offers that will tax your patience.
Prepare your car
Most of us clean the car at least once a year, whether it needs it or not. You’d think cleaning a car before displaying it to the buying massive would be a given, but judging by some of the festering heaps you see advertised, this message clearly hasn’t made it through to all areas yet.
Ask for the bod’s contact details well in advance if you’re planning to let them test drive your car. That should include a landline number as well as their name and address so you can call him back on the landline number to confirm the arrangements.
Needless to say, you should always go with them on a test drive. When you swap seats, take the keys with you until you’ve got back in the car.
How to get paid
Right. All your elbow grease and advertising honesty has paid off. Your car has been bought.
Cash is king – or is it? If your Waitrose carrier bag of dirty tenners is large enough, many crims won’t baulk at old-fashioned robbery – and some of them are psychos. An electronic transfer can often be made between cooperating banks as quickly as handing over that bag. It’s generally a lot safer too.
If you don’t like the sound of internet banking, a bank or building cheque is your next option. Obviously that’s a lot slower, as only a fool would release a car before the cheque has cleared.