How NOT to sell a car
Doing it properly takes work and a little common sense.
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?'"
- Bing: Shop for a used car
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.
- How to sell a car you don't own
- Keep your old clunker or buy a new car?
- Cash in your old gas guzzler
- Used car vs. new car: Join the debate
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Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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