Five Sneaky Ways To Save Hundreds When Selling Your Car

by Hank Coleman

Five Sneaky Tips For Selling Your CarRecently I sold my beloved BMW and am currently looking for a new car to replace it. I took my car to one of those places with signs out front that say, “buy, sell, or trade”. So, I sold it to them. I had them make me an offer, and the offer was fair. It was also several hundred dollars more than what I had expected to receive. But, what are some tips for selling your car to earn a little more money? 

I ended up leasing a new car. Could I have gotten more for my car? Could I have saved myself some money by preparing for the sale earlier? How far are you willing to go to save a few hundred dollars?

Tips for Selling Your Car and More Save Money

Here are a few tips for selling your car that can help you squeeze out a little more profit into your pocket when you are selling your car.

Delay Some Non-Critical Maintenance

Now I am not saying to drive around in a car that is unsafe and about to fall apart. Don’t drive a car shouldn’t be on the road because you are waiting to get some critical car maintenance done to save a few bucks.

Ultimate Checklist for Your Finances

Take back control of your finances!

Get a FREE checklist for the money moves to make in the New Year.

Also get new articles, advice, and tips delivered right in your email inbox with our newsletter!

But, I would recommend timing your routine car maintenance so that you sell your car before you have to complete the maintenance. For example, an oil change for a late model BMW is over $125.

If you delayed changing that oil until you sold your car, that is money that you didn’t spend and money that stays in your pocket. Do you need new tires? Have you been putting off getting a tune up or your air conditioner looked at for the summer? 

These can be simple car maintenance items to put off to keep more money for yourself and save. Of course, you could also find yourself having to concede money for whoever you sell your car to for the needed repairs if they are significant and obvious.

Want to get more money when selling your car? Here are a few sneaky tips for selling your car!Click To Tweet

Show Up With An Empty Gas Tank

With a lot of cars and the price of gasoline nowadays, you can actually save a lot of money by showing up on fumes to the car lot when you want to trade in or sell your used car. For example, if gas is $4 per gallon and you have a 20-gallon tank, you just saved yourself $80 in gas.

Some of us also have a gas guzzler that can cost even more than $80 to fill up. This is a simple way to save a good size chunk of change when you are selling your car.

Get A Car Wash And Clean The Inside

You would be surprised by how many people drive onto the car lot with a dirty car. It only takes a few minutes of your time and less than a roll of quarters to get a good car wash and vacuum. It is, without a doubt, money well spent. You have to think about the first impression that you are making with your car when you show it to a potential buyer.

This time, we are not talking about delaying paying for a cost. We are talking about spending a little bit of money to earn a higher amount when you sell your car. Are there scuff marks on the seats, leftover cereal from your kids, etc.? Cleaning the car or even paying for a detail can help you earn a larger price when you sell.

The old saying is often true that you have to sometimes spend money to make money. This is definitely the case when you are selling your car and want to receive the most amount of money possible for your car and time getting it ready.

Fix The Obvious Things Before You Go

Another thing that you want to do is to fix simple issues that a dealer or potential buyer will see right away. Certain automobile insurance companies can fix cosmetic issues for a minor deductible.

To get an idea of an insurance company that covers these cosmetic issues, check out these automobile insurance quotes from the Hartford. Fixing the obvious issues with your car such as needing new windshield wipers can help you make a great first impression and can help you receive the most amount for your trade in.

Sell Your Car Right Before Your Loan Payment

If you can sell your car right before your car loan payment is due, then that money you were going to spend can stay in your pocket right where it belongs. This is one of the easiest ways to save money when you sell your car.

Like when you are paying your rent, you pay your car loan for the next month. So, if you pay your loan payment on the first of the money, you are paying for the rest of the month (the four months following).

Three Moves To Make After Selling Your Car

So, what are you going to do now that you have sold your car and have no car payment? What are you going to do with the extra savings from the car payment that you used to pay and the lower car insurance premium when I switch from comprehensive coverage to just collision? These are some of the big questions that my wife, friends, and family have been asking lately.

Do you want to change your financial situation after selling your car? Isn’t that the whole reason in most cases for selling a great newer model car to begin with? There are a few critical steps that you need to make after selling your car. Here are the steps to take right now after selling my car. Here are three things that you need to do immediately before it is too late in order to set yourself up for financial success.

Open A New Savings Account

When you have been making a car payment for years, you may feel a hole in your routine when that first payment after you have sold your car is due. What do you do with that money? In most cases, that can be a significant amount of money with the average car payment in America hovering around $400 or more.

The trick, of course, is to continue making that payment to yourself of course. You should immediately set up a brand new savings account with an automatic payment from your paycheck or your main checking account where you receive your paycheck to deposit automatically into that savings account. You may also want to give your savings account a nickname such as “Brand New Car For Cash” or “Repair Fund” to help you keep your grubby hands off of it in the meantime.

Lower Your Car Insurance Costs

The second phone call I made after selling my car was to my car insurance company. I ended up paying cash for a very used car to replace the one that I just sold. Since it was very old and I paid for cash, I was able to get rid of my comprehensive coverage and just opted for collision and liability insurance.

This will save me hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. Just be careful dropping your car insurance coverage level. Make sure that you have an adequate emergency fund to cover any repairs that you will have to make to your car for the accidents you cause.

And, you should still consider keeping enough liability insurance to protect yourself from lawsuits. My wife and I still have an umbrella insurance policy that covers us which I would highly recommend to everyone.

Do Something You Enjoy

Now that you are out from under your car payment, you should also do something that you have always wanted to do or something that you will enjoy. I am actually currently on the hunt for a classic Ford Mustang to rebuild and tinker with.

I know absolutely nothing about cars. But, I want to learn desperately. It has been on my bucket list for years and years, and now I want to tackle it.

And, now I have the funds to do so thanks to not having a huge monthly car payment. Maybe you take a small (very small) portion of that old car payment and do something that you always wanted to do.

Have you ever woke up one day to find out that you are just sick of having a car payment? That’s basically what happened to me.

Have you ever sold a car either to a dealership or in a private sale to someone else? Have you tried to make a few bucks extra here or there on the sale? How did you do it?

How did you get top dollar for your car when you sold? What tips for selling your car do you have? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 589 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


Subscribe To Money Q&A

If you want to learn more about taking back control of your money please subscribe to Money Q&A’s RSS feed or via email to receive all the latest articles! You can also subscribe to our Free Weekly Newsletter.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

John S @ Frugal Rules

Great tips. I’d alsoo add, that if you’re trading in against the “new” car purchase to not negotiate the trade in until after you negotiate the purchase price of your car. We sold our old Jeep a few years ago through a private sale. We made sure it was clean and emphasized the added things we put in to it.

Reply

Hank Coleman

That’s a great point, John. I was once told a great example of the car buying process. It is like a balloon in three sections: your trade in, the new car price, and financing. If you are not careful, the car dealership will squeeze the balloon at one point to give you a good deal on the car price and then making their profit up on another portion of the balloon that blows up bigger when the other section was squeezed.

Reply

Sean @ One Smart Dollar

Before we sold our car a few months ago I took it and got it detailed. I think that instantly added more than the $100 spent to the value. We also sold it to the first person to come and look at it.

Reply

Hank Coleman

It is definitely worth it in my opinion. Money well spent!

Reply

Money Beagle

Last time we sold a car we didn’t have a loan payment because it was already paid off. Don’t forget to aim for that 🙂

Reply

Hank Coleman

That definitely gives you some negotiating power when you do not need the dealership to pay off your old car loan note.

Reply

Pete

Always get a Carmax appraisal on your current vehicle. Even if you don’t plan to sell your car to Carmax knowing what Carmax is appraising it for is a good starting point in terms of negotiating the selling price with another dealer. I always make it known that I’ve had a Carmax appraisal done. With that groundwork in place I’ve always managed to get an offer from another dealer at least $1,000 above the Carmax offer.

Also, if you are planning to shop for a new car in a large urban area make sure you use the zip code of that area to obtain Truecar pricing. If you use your current zip code as opposed to the zip code of the area you plan to purchase the vehicle in, Truecar may show you a price several hundred if not several thousand dollars higher.

Reply

Christian L.

Hank,
I sold my car that had been totaled. I got rear-ended and because of the age and mileage of my car, the insurance company deemed it totaled even though everything was A-OK mechanically.

I needed it for a road trip that weekend, so I kept it. But when I sold it, I got the difference between what the insurance company offered me to keep it and the offer to give it to them immediately.

-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

Reply

Hank Coleman

That’s an interesting story. So, maybe you can even add the price of a rental car that you did not have to rent into the total amount of money that you saved selling your car…or, more accurately, delaying the sale of your car.

Reply

Elizabeth @ Simple Finance

My car desperately needed new tires, but we knew we were about to trade it in – and when we did, those tires were BALD! But there was no way I was going to shell out $500 for tires on a car I wasn’t going to be driving for much longer!

Reply

Randolph Hoover

Well, most likely get the maintenance done. Get the damages fixed and telling the truth will work. It’ll give you a good reputation as a person too if you sold a quality product.

Reply

Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: