Simon Hopes

Cash in a Flash: The Best Way to Sell a Used Car For a Much-Needed Upgrade

So you've been driving the same car for seven years. It suited your needs at one time, and it still gets you from point A to point B, but you're in desperate need of an upgrade. We've heard this story before!

Don't worry, you don't have to be out a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars. You CAN sell your used car!

If it's your time for an upgrade, here's the best way to sell a used car in a hurry. Keep reading to learn the best routes to take and what common mistakes to avoid.

1. Appraisal

First thing's first, you need to appraise your car's value. The worst thing you could do is unknowingly sell your used car for far less than it's worth.

A car appraisal is a lot like a house appraisal. Taken into account (formally) is the year, the make, the model, and the miles. On top of that, you must take into account the wear and tear on your car and the condition it's in, interior and exterior.

Even if your car is a 2017 Lexus with leather interior and sun roof, the value will plummet if the interior is trashed beyond recognition. Or if it already has 100,000 miles on it.

To appraise your car you can do an online appraisal or simply look up your car on Kelly Blue Book. Both are pretty accurate and will at least give you a solid ballpark price range.

You may take one look at your car and think, "This isn't worth anything." But don't let looks or your bias deceive you! You may be pleasantly surprised what a person or a dealership would pay for it.

2. Check Out Your Market

Next, check out your market. Do you know what your type of car is going for? Do you know if it's in demand?

Again, don't let your bias fool you! That's a common mistake made by those selling their used cars. A minivan may not look or seem exciting, but they actually sell well because many families need a well-priced family sedan.

Go onto your local dealerships' websites and check out how your type of car is priced. Then check for the same thing on online sites like KSL.

A great thing about KSL listings is that you can see how many views and "saves" a certain post has had. This will tell you how popular your type of used car is in your area.

You can also compare prices -- has a nice version of your car been available for awhile but no takers? It's probably priced too high! Learn from other sellers' experience before doing your own trial and error.

3. Make Your Car Look Its Best

This one should be obvious. But you'd be surprised how many people try to sell dirty, trashy-looking vehicles. Make your car look its best before you get it appraised and before you show it!

Maybe you're thinking, "But my car is so old and run-down, I can't make it look great." That may be true, but you can certainly make it look better.

Invest some time and even money into deep cleaning the inside and outside of your car. For the inside, empty it out, vacuum, scrub at stains, dust, wipe everything down, clean the windows, and disinfect all surfaces. Consider getting it professionally cleaned!

For the outside, wash everything you can see. Spray it with water, scrub it with soap (including the tires!), clean the windows, and douse it with water again. Get all the bugs off your windshield and bird poop off your roof.

Can you afford to get some of the little dents and dings taken out? If so, do it! By enhancing the "curb appeal" of your car, it'll attract more attention and hopefully get you a better return.

Aren't sure if your car is ready to be replaced just yet? Read this article that'll teach you the eight signs it's time to junk it!

Now that you've prepared your car for sale, let's take a look at your sale options. Here are the four main types of used car sales.

Dealership Sale

Ever wondered how car dealerships get all their used cars? They buy them from people like you!

You can take your car into a dealership, they'll appraise it, then make you an offer if they want it. The downsides are that they don't always want it and even if they do, they may not offer you what you think it's worth.

A car dealership's offer is usually non-negotiable. You take it or leave it.

The upside to selling your used car to a dealership is that you complete the entire transaction through a professional company. This means there's none of the risk or guesswork involved in selling it to a private party.

This upside is worth it for many people. The process is legal, complete, and you'll leave with written records. No worrying about loose ends!

If, however, you're wanting to get top dollar for your vehicle, there are other options that may suit you better. Keep reading to learn what they are.

CarMax Sale

Selling your car to CarMax is a unique option. There's not one in every area, so you'll have to look up if there's one close to you. CarMax's thing is "any car, any condition."

You may think no one would pay for your junker, but think again! You can schedule a time to take your car in and have them do their own appraisal.

They'll then make you a formal offer based on their appraisal. It may not be the heaps of gold you imagined, but it'll be a monetary offer nonetheless.

The upside is that you have seven days to accept or deny the offer, you're not on the spot! Many dealerships don't work that way. So you can take a week to keep showing your car elsewhere, in search of any better offers.

If you accept their offer, you get paid immediately. You walk away with the money.

Now that's fast money! If you're looking to cash in on your used car as quick as possible, look into CarMax services. Read over some other sellers' experiences (good and bad) and decide if this is a good option for you.

Online Sale

Selling your car to a private party is usually the option that'll get you top dollar. Since you can negotiate with private parties, you don't have to settle for low-ball offers.

Another upside is not dealing with the legal jargon and forms that come with selling your car to a dealership or company. You can take pictures of your car, post it yourself, respond to inquiries, set up showings, and totally dictate your own process. You are very much in control in this scenario.

There are a few downsides to this method. Since you're trying to get top dollar, it may take a long time. Your post might be up for weeks, even months, and you may show your car 50 times.

If you're looking to sell your car for top dollar today, this isn't the route for you. This is for those who can afford to wait and hold onto their car for as long as it takes to get the right offer!

Another downside is the risk of dealing with a private party. Everything is off the books, so you're at risk for maybe a check bouncing or someone damaging your car while they test drive it. These things happen, so take precautions!


Did you know you can sometimes trade in your current car for a new one? Many people do this!

Of course your old car most likely doesn't hold the same value as the new one, so its value just goes toward the price of the new car. You'll then pay the difference.

This is a good option for people who want a simple, painless procedure. You'll work with one dealership (the one selling your desired new car) for both sales, instead of two separate parties. That makes things easier for you.

The downside is that you get the dealership's price for your used car, which tends to mean it's not as high as you'd like. They'll low-ball you because they know you want the process over and done with.

It also usually means the price is non-negotiable, so you don't have that advantage either. But for those who want to get rid of their old car and take home a new one relatively painlessly, then a dealership trade-in is the option for you.

You could be done with your process today if you're willing to go this route! Many people find it uncomplicated and smooth sailing.

The Best Way to Sell a Used Car Is To Do It Now!

Don't wait for your car to get even older with even more miles on it. If you want to upgrade, do it now. That's the best way to sell a used car!

Consider all these options we've gone over. Weigh your pros and cons and take into consideration the speed at which you want to sell.

Check out our other blogs and articles about cars, sales, and lifestyle! The more you know, the better off you'll be.

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