How I Sold My Car (Without Really Trying)

On May 18, 2011, Yahoo! News published an article about how high used car prices make this an ideal time to sell your car. Car for SaleFortunately for me, this was exactly 5 days after I sold my car.  I knew that the car was worth a decent sum, but I didn’t realize that the relative market price this year is higher than in years past.  Still, I had figured that it was a good idea to sell my 5-year-old car while it was still in good condition, with relatively low mileage, and without the need for major repairs.  And this proved to be a wise decision.

I spoke to several car salesmen, all of whom wanted to pay me significantly less than book value, undoubtedly so that they could resell the car at a reasonable price while still turning a profit.  Since I wasn’t in a specific rush, I decided to advertise it locally, and to post it on a used car website, asking a few hundred dollars under book value.  I figured that if I didn’t sell it relatively quickly, I could always lower the price or (gasp!) return to one of the car salesmen.

Even though I wasn’t in a specific rush, every day that nobody called felt like an eternity.  When the calls did start coming, most of the inquiries were from people hoping to pay thousands of dollars below book value.  Considering that I’d never had a single problem with the car (except for some flat tires), I made the ‘brave’ decision to wait longer, in the hopes that a savvy consumer would realize the value in the car.

About 3 weeks after I’d posted the car online, I got the call I’d been waiting for – a buyer was willing to pay our asking price if his mechanic approved the car.  During the inspection, I felt like I was the one being tested.  Did I maintain the car properly?  Were there any hidden flaws that I was trying to conceal?  Fortunately, the mechanic proclaimed the car to be as good as ‘almost new’, and suddenly I was carless.

It’s been nearly a month now, and I haven’t yet gotten a new one.  I have my eye on the one that I want (a used car, but 4 years newer than mine), but it’s not yet available.  In the past month, I’ve tried to focus on how much money I’m saving on gas and insurance, and to appreciate the value of my time a bit more.  It takes me longer to get places now, but I find a surprising beauty in the way I’m no longer rushing all the time, since I know I can’t be.  I also sit in less traffic and have found that I am buying less at the grocery store, since it’s harder to get it home.  Overall, I’ve found this to be a (slightly stressful but) positive experience, and if you’re considering selling your car, I hope you have an equally successful one.

Lessons Learned:

  • Patience is a virtue.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of keeping your car in good condition.
  • Keep the paperwork from every maintenance – this is a great way to build customer confidence.
  • Advertise your car in 1-2 places each week.  Publicizing it everywhere at once will prevent fresh eyes from seeing it if it’s not sold immediately.
  • Keep a car salesman’s phone number on hand in case of emergency.

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