Sooner or later, we all turn our gaze to our vehicles and think, “I’d like something else.” Garage space and spousal spats notwithstanding, to bring a new rig on, the old one has to go. The issue then becomes one of how to do so properly–taking the right pictures, typing the right description, meeting the right buyer, and most importantly, making sure that cold, hard cash trades hands without a hitch.
Many of us have had experience with how the process goes, and if we know anything, it’s that there are a million ways it can go south and very few ways that it can go well. If you’ve done it before or want to get a few helpful pointers for your maiden voyage into selling a vehicle, we here at Off Road Xtreme have brought our collective experience to bear on how best to handle these situations.
In this piece, we’ll be going over how to prepare your vehicle, where and how to list it, how to set up the trade-off, and what to do after the dust settles. If all goes well, you’ll have mucho dinero and a cold beer in hand as you reflect on a successful sale.
Taking your property to market dictates that you have a price in mind for what you’re planning to sell. As is often the case with four-wheelers in the hands of off-roading folk, there’s been a litany of mods, upgrades, or otherwise non-stock items bolted, welded, and affixed to a vehicle. You should take the time beforehand to determine if your next rig will be able to host any of the outgoing one’s parts, and decide if you’d rather leave them on to enhance the original’s value, or take them away to reinstall on the next one.
Next To Godliness
Degreaser: Fast 505 is a great option to go for. It works on just about any part of a vehicle, from tires to engine bay to body panels, and doesn’t leave any residue or streaking after usage. Spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, scrub, and rinse off; it’s that simple. We found it for sale at home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
Adhesive Remover: Goo Gone is where it’s at. It’s a little on the pricey side and can be a little unwieldy in large amounts, but it does the job as advertised. Great for any decals, bumper stickers, and other stick-on stuff you want to get rid of.
Glass: Windex is a prime selection. You can buy it just about anywhere, it’s inexpensive, and it doesn’t leave streaks when used properly. It also works just fine for basic interior cleaning on vinyl and plastic surfaces. And to go the extra mile, using a clay bar will work wonders to restore sheen and clarity.
Interior: Melamine sponges work great on hard plastic including the dashboard, steering wheel, console, and so on. Be warned that it does wear on paint if used aggressively enough. Ozium does the trick for pure, obliterating smell removal when left to sit inside the car overnight, and it doesn’t leave an aroma of its own.
Grab some towels and dry everything off after washing. If you notice trouble areas, use degreaser or glass cleaner to handle little stains here and there.
With your rig sitting pretty, there’s no better time for a Kodak moment than right now. Bust out your camera or smartphone and start snapping pics of everything you want featured: the front interior, back seat(s), trunk area or bed, quarter panels, badging, roof, hood, bumpers, wheels and tires, and engine bay.
Try to put yourself in the mind of buyer for this step. One way to look at it is that anything you leave out will be filled in by the prospective buyer, and those thoughts tend toward the negative. For example, taking pictures of only one side will leave the buyer to think that the opposite side is in bad shape, even when it’s not.
Next, pick which method will net you the right kind of buyer. This being the age of the internet means that your best and fastest route will be to go online. The choices are many, but we’ll focus on three of them to illustrate some pros and cons: Craigslist, eBay Motors, and Auto Trader.
Craigslist has blossomed a great deal since its start in 1995. As a way for selling automobiles, its prevalence cannot be understated. At the very least, it’s a good place to start for gauging interest and offers from the outside (albeit local) world. On the plus side, Craigslist lets you post on multiple cities and regions free of charge, can handle up to 24 images per post, and will stay live online for 45 days before being automatically deleted. On the negative side, it tends to attract some folks out there who lowball or troll sellers, and can lead to awkward encounters between both parties.
EBay Motors, on the other hand, works much differently. Users can set their vehicle for sale as an auction with or without a reserve, a Buy It Now price, OBO (Or Best Offer), or sometimes all three. Depending on your parameters, you can select to have the car be shipped across the country or around the world, or specify “Local Pickup Only” too.
Pros include financial security through PayPal (which releases funds after both parties are satisfied) and Second Chance offers, which allow the seller to make an offer to bidders if the vehicle didn’t go past a reserve. Cons include fees assessed by both eBay and PayPal, which will eat into your profit margin, as well as a timer maximum of only 30 days.
Finally, there’s Auto Trader. Having been in business for longer than both eBay Motors and Craigslist, it carries with it an air of professionalism and mutual respect to both buyers and sellers. A post can be made to “run ’til it sells,” have an AutoCheck (think Carfax) report tied to it for others to view, and even have it run on the Kelley Blue Book website as well.
Pros include a variety of options to improve the odds of a sale, as well as exposure to millions of prospective buyers through multiple websites. Cons include significant up-front costs for posts and add-ons to promote your vehicle over others. Time invested in making a successful listing may also be a turn-off for some.
Step 3: The Sale
Now comes the fun part: the sale. Whether by text, phone, or email, you’ve established contact with a buyer and he wants to see what you’ve got. So what now?
Find a day that works for you both and allows for maximum sunshine. Look at the weather forecast for the day planned and nail down the time you’d like to start the inspection–the earlier, the better.
As far as location goes, that’s up to you and the buyer. If they’re far away and the vehicle can be driven or hauled out, it’s courteous to drive to a halfway point to meet them. You should always err on the side of caution and select a spot that’s public with several witnesses. Additionally, it should be close to a highway or freeway where it can be test-driven.
When you meet the buyer in person, be as cordial and helpful as possible. Point out the strengths of your vehicle and answer any and all questions to the best of your knowledge. Your worst mistake would be to lie or mislead the buyer, since it goes against the Golden Rule and seriously–you don’t want to be considered a jackass or worse, taken to court.
During the test drive, the buyer is nothing if not alert. Every little creak, groan, tick, or otherwise irritant can and will be detected by the buyer. Do your best to explain what the issue is or may be, but don’t sell your rig short; the buyer came this far to check it out, and he wants it. Maintain the positives of the vehicle and press on.
Hopefully, you’ve specified that you want cold, hard cash for the vehicle. Verify that it’s all there and then begin the paperwork: title transfer and some sort of buyer’s agreement, the latter of which states the vehicle is being sold as-is and liability is being released to the buyer. Don’t forget to shake hands and hand him the keys!
Step 4: The Celebration
Congratulations on a successful sale. You did every bit of it professionally and courteously, and you can go home not just with cash, but a clean conscience as well.
Using what you’ve learned from making a car sale, you now know what you want when it comes time for the next truck or SUV you purchase. And as with all things, maintain courage, competence, and ethics when dealing with people; it’s what they deserve, and what you look for in a transaction.