Monday, April 16, 2012

Tips on How Not to Sell a Car

Recently, a costly repair to our 17 year old Chevy Tahoe gave us a decision to either make a repair that is more than is worth the value of the beastly vehicle or to sell the gas guzzler for a fuel efficient car.

Here's the challenge:  Buy a good running vehicle for $2400 (as much cash as I have on hand) plus whatever money I make from selling the Tahoe.  We want to sell the Tahoe for as much as possible as there are very few, if any, reliable vehicles out there for $2400 - and we are refusing to take out a loan to buy a car.

The Tahoe - our blue beast.
Problem - SUV's don't really get good gas mileage and are not selling for their Kelly Blue Book value.  2nd problem - This 167,000 mile vehicle has many repairs that need to be made for safe, comfortable riding.  Repairs such as brakes, transfer case, air-conditioning, muffler, tires, and a new radio add up to about $2,800+.  The engine runs like a top, and there is very little rust on it.  Our hope is to get $1000 from the sale.

Here's what NOT to do when selling your car or truck.
We called around to area dealerships to see what they would give us for a Tahoe with plenty of fix-ups.  All the dealerships were willing to trade it in for a new car.  Most would give us $500-$600 only if we bought a car with them.  However, one dealership's website (located in Faribault) advertised that they will buy your vehicle for you and write you a check.  We decided to drive down to see what they would give us.  Upon arriving at the dealership we are greeted right away.  To make a long story short, they really pushed us into trading our vehicle and were not interested in buying the Tahoe outright.  This was disappointing as I took the morning off, drove 50 minutes to this dealership, and they did NOT want the vehicle.  So lesson learned, do NOT bring your vehicle to a dealership unless you plan on trading it in.

What you SHOULD do when selling a vehicle.
After spending drive time to and back from Faribault, we parked the car in front of the house, decided to post the Tahoe on Craigslist and put a large "For Sale" sign along with the price in the windshield.  In about 10 minutes we received at least 20 email messages from the Craigslist posting and 2 people pulled their car over when they noticed the price in the window.

Obviously, this proved to be a winning strategy.

Negotiating the sale
We still had the dealer's voice in our heads saying that he wouldn't buy our vehicle from us because of low demand for SUVs.  When the first offer was thrown our way, we were so excited to get any money that we accepted it.  We posted the Tahoe for $1000, and this first offer was for $400.

Minutes after we accepted the offer we received a call from a guy offering us $1200.   He told us he wasn't available for a few days to pick up the Tahoe, but he would pay us with cash.  Realizing that we shouldn't have taken the low $400 offer, we informed the guy who offered us $400 of this much larger offer and said we could no longer sell for $400.  Fortunately for us, he was very understanding and walked away.

Two days later they guy who offered us $1200 isn't returning our phone calls and isn't showing up.  This isn't a good sign, so we post the Tahoe again on Craigslist.  Again within minutes we get many emails asking about the Tahoe.  This time we post the Tahoe for $1200 realizing that people will low ball us on their offer.  I sort through all the Craigslist emails and call the person whose email seems most likely to buy the Tahoe right away.  We end up selling the SUV within two hours of posting on Craigslist to a mechanic who gave us $1000 in cash. 

Here's a short Recap
  • To get the most for your money for an SUV, do not sell or trade in your vehicle to a dealer.
  • Don't be so anxious to sell your vehicle if the first offer is below what you want.
  • Craigslist is a free and effective way to advertise your car.
  • Post your vehicle for $200 more that you hope to receive.
  • Accept only cash or a cashier's check made out to you for payment.
  • Upon selling the vehicle, both the seller and the buyer should go to the nearest government center and transfer the title to the buyer, that way, if anything happens to the vehicle the buyer is liable and not you.
Stay tuned, in the next blog post, I will share the mistakes I made when purchasing a car.   Have any other good tips?  Leave them in the comments section - I have a feeling I may be selling a car in the not too distant future.

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