• Nov 19th 2007 at 4:35PM
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There probably aren't half as many articles out there about selling your vehicle as there are ones on how to tell you to buy one. Many of us aren't car salesman but all of us should know the basics of getting a car prepped for sale. When the time does come to make a vehicle switch, we should know a little bit about what we're doing. AOL Autos has highlighted five steps that should help get your car ready for sale and keep you focused on what attracts potential buyers.

Tip 1: Make it Look Good

This is an obvious one. The car needs to look good (inside and out) and it should even smell good, or at least not smell bad. Think of it this way: People are trying to visualize your car as their car. If you have a McDonald's bag in the backseat, coffee stains on the dash and a bumper sticker that tells everyone who you voted for in 2004, a potential buyer will have a hard time changing gears from "their car" to "my car."

Check out our car cleaning tips for a complete list of tips to spruce up your vehicle and bring out its best qualities. Spending a little time cleaning up your car will make a good impression and can help you sell it that much faster.

Tip 2: Get All the Paperwork Together

This is one of the most important steps if you still owe money on the car. Make sure to contact the lien owner and find out the details of selling your car. If you owe a fair amount of money on the vehicle, find out if you're "upside down" on your loan, meaning that you owe more on the loan than the car is worth. If that's the case, paying off the loan and selling the car later may be your best bet.

If you own the car, selling it is going to be a whole lot smoother. Contact your state's DMV or hop onto their Web site to find out exactly what you'll need to switch everything over legally. Having the bill of sale and other proper documentation ready for potential buyers will show them you're on top of things and will help make the sale go faster.

Tip 3: Prove You've Maintained the Vehicle

Sorting through maintenance records on your vehicle is not fun. But if you have documentation of major and minor repairs on the vehicle, you can prove two things to potential buyers: The vehicle they're considering purchasing has been properly maintained, and documented maintenance usually means less money for repairs later. Show a potential buyer all the maintenance records when they come to look at the car, or at least let them know you have them if they want to see them.

If the car needs work and you're selling it that way, get a quote from your mechanic and include that with the paperwork. This eliminates a guessing game between you and the buyer as to how much a repair is going to cost and how much the car is worth.

Along with routine maintenance records, make sure you've had any recall fixes taken care of before you try to sell the vehicle. Provide paperwork for these to ensure the buyer that they don't need to worry about any recall-related problems.

Tip 4: Watch How You Drive

If you're selling the car yourself and not through a dealer, many people will put their car ads online or in a professional listing like Autotrader and maybe even put a "For Sale" sign in the window. If you're advertising your car while you're driving it around town you should be mindful of how you're driving. If a potential buyer sees you cut someone off, drive erratically or simply drive to fast, they may be less likely to call. Buyers want to know you've taken care of the car they're buying; letting your road rage show isn't going to support that idea.

Tip 5: Be Honest

One of the most important details of selling your car is to be open and honest with potential buyers. In the past, it was more difficult to determine how much a vehicle was worth, if had been in any accidents, etc. Now Joe Carbuyer can go online find out the value of his car and get full a report on the car's VIN number using CarFax.

Know what your car is worth as well and what you're willing to sell it for. In some cases, the buyer may want to take the car to his mechanic to have it checked out. Don't take this as an insult; most people don't like making a big purchase without an expert opinion. If you're not willing to let them have the vehicle checked out by a mechanic, the odds of you selling the car will drop dramatically.

Always remember to be patient with the selling process. If your price is reasonable, the right buyer will come along. Preparing your car for sale doesn't have to be a frustrating process. Just clean up your car as best as you can, stay organized with the paperwork, and be honest with potential buyers.



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