Selling Your Used Vehicle

Jarrod R. Franks
LTJG, JAGC, USN

If it’s time to sell your car, here are five steps to follow to turn your used car into cash.

1. Determine marketability and price. Determine how valuable your car truly is. Kelly Blue Book, kbb.com is widely accepted as the way to determine the true value of your car. Edmunds.com and other Internet sites allow you to search with specific criteria. For example, select the year and trim level of your car and see how many similar cars are currently on the market and the price others are asking for. There are many factors to consider when determining the price of your car: mileage, condition, special features, and location of the vehicle.
2. Decide where to sell. After you determine an asking price for your vehicle, you need to decide where to sell it. You may decide that an ad in the local newspaper or putting a “For Sale” sign in the window is the best way to achieve a quick sale. Also consider online listings such as AutoTrader.com, Craigslist.org, Carsdirect.com or Cars.com. If you need to sell your car immediately, consider bringing it to a dealer for a trade-in. However, the dealer will give you considerably less than the private resale value. Another option is to donate the vehicle to a non-profit organization or charity for a tax deduction.
3. Prepare for Sale. Once you decide where to sell, you should completely clean and detail your vehicle; wash and wax the body, shampoo the carpet and upholstery, shine the tires and hubcaps, and remove all personal belongings. Organize all your service records to document your maintenance and repairs to any prospective buyers and to pass on to the new owner. Consider providing a CARFAX Vehicle History Report to document clean title and ownership history (Carfax.com).
4. Close the deal. Remember that this is a negotiation, and the buyer wants to get the best value he or she can. It may reduce your anxiety in the sale if you determine your ultimate bottom line in advance; while you may come down from your initial price you should stick to this bottom line. Tell the buyer your preferred payment method and organize a bill of sale to document the title transfer. A free template is available at carbuyingtips.com/billofsale.xls.
5. Report the sale. Within five days of the sale, you must report the sale in the state the vehicle had been titled in. This report will protect you from liabilities that might arise from someone else’s use of the vehicle after you’ve sold it. You can report the sale, trade, trade-in, etc. in any written document that states the following information: (1) date of the sale or transfer; (2) name and address of seller; (3) name and address of buyer; and (4) a description of the vehicle including the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and license plate number. You can report the sale online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/rosprod/.

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About rlsonw

Navy JAG Corps
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