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How NOT to sell a car

Doing it properly takes work and a little common sense.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2009 6:19PM

Baker at Man vs. Debt sold his Nissan with 240,000 miles, a leaky brake line, leaking oil, transmission problems and cosmetic defects for $1,200 to a tech school student -- and he's thanking his lucky stars.


Baker did almost everything wrong a private person selling a car could do. His mistakes, as well as others that occurred to him later, are compiled in a post called "67 ways NOT to sell a car."


Remember: There are things Baker says you should NOT do, like "Put 'or best offer' on every ad" or "Answer the question, ‘What's the lowest you'll take?'" 

Our contribution would be allowing the buyer to pay some now and the rest later. We ended up having to track him down and confront him -- an uncomfortable experience for both of us.

More from Baker's excellent list, starting with another payment issue: DON'T:

  • Accept a personal check. (What do you think? Where we live, not accepting a check would likely be considered an insult.)
  • Be the first to mention a dollar figure once the dickering has begun.
  • Sell your four-wheel drive in the spring. Fall is better.
  • Agree to drop the price after the buyer says, "It's all the cash I have on me." (The guy we mentioned above also tried that one.)
  • Ignore the Kelley Blue Book private-party price as well as the going local rate for your make and model.
  • Sell it as is, including the dog hair, french fries and strange odors. Don't think that if it was good enough for you to ride around in, it's good enough for the dummy lucky fellow who buys it.
  • Do a happy dance at the end of the sale. Baker fortunately limited his to mental gyrations.

Note: If you have a gas guzzler and are in the market for a new car, you might wait to see if the "cash for clunkers" bill becomes law. Under this proposal, the federal government would give you $3,500 to $4,500 to trade in a vehicle that averages 18 miles per gallon or less when you buy a new car that's more fuel-efficient.


Related reading:

Published June 10, 2009
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