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Usually, when buying a car, most people sell their old one, whether it’s via a trade-in at a dealership, an instant cash offer, or selling to a private party. To make the most money from the business transaction, U.S. News & World Report put together a list of the mistakes to avoid when selling a car. 

How can I get the most money when selling a car?

For sale signs on red VW Beetle, highlighting U.S. News car-selling mistakes
“For Sale” signs on VW Beetle | Tim Graham/Getty Images

Even though a car depreciates considerably over its lifespan, you can usually get a great deal of money back when selling it. The key is to avoid mistakes. U.S. News compiled a very long and comprehensive list of “33 mistakes people make when selling a car.”

  1. Not knowing the value of your car
  2. Letting your emotions do the pricing
  3. Not having a pricing strategy
  4. Making costly repairs before you sell
  5. Not looking at the car-selling options
  6. Not considering the tax advantages of a trade-in
  7. Not getting the title from your lender
  8. Not gathering your car maintenance records
  9. Not getting the car washed
  10. Advertising with lousy photos
  11. Not telling the truth or including enough information
  12. Not taking advantage of free selling tools
  13. Not advertising if there’s a warranty
  14. Not responding quickly to inquiries
  15. Accepting the opening offer
  16. Being bullied by buyers
  17. Falling for an emotional plea
  18. Listening to the lowballers
  19. Giving in at the last minute
  20. Fibbing about the car’s accident history
  21. Lying about other offers
  22. Not meeting in a safe space
  23. Not taking solo test drive precautions
  24. Not safeguarding your personal information
  25. Failing to clear your personal data
  26. Not letting a potential buyer get an inspection
  27. Not asking enough questions about the buyer
  28. Not reading the documents before you sign
  29. Not being clear that the sale is “as is”
  30. Falling prey to a payment scam
  31. Allowing a payment plan
  32. Failing to complete the paperwork
  33. Not walking away from a bad deal

Don’t let emotions influence you when selling your car

For sale sign on green Land Rover, highlighting U.S. News car-selling mistakes
“For Sale” sign on Land Rover | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Many of the car-selling mistakes from U.S News deal with emotions. Selling your car can be stressful — and it’s easy to get overcome by emotions. However, getting overly emotional can affect your judgment and lead to mistakes. When selling your car, try to adhere to the adage, “It’s not personal. It’s business.”

Be well-prepared when selling your car

Another large chunk of the U.S. News car-selling mistakes pertain to preparation. This includes such things as “not knowing the value of your car,” “not getting the title from your lender,” and “not gathering your car maintenance records.” Also, you want to make sure that your car is presentable and as attractive as possible to potential buyers. Before selling your car, give it a car wash, and use high-quality photos when listing your car. Good preparation is one of the keys to success, and this holds true when selling your car.

Selling your car: Safety and security precautions

U.S News also lists many car-selling mistakes that pertain to safety and security. Examples include “not meeting in a safe space,” “not taking solo test drive precautions,” “not safeguarding your personal information,” and “failing to clear your personal data.” Like many other business transactions, there is an element of risk involved, so take the necessary safety and precautions. 

As you can see from the very long list from U.S. News, there is an abundance of mistakes that you can make when selling your car. If you’re not careful, there are many things that can go wrong. However, if you avoid these mistakes, you’ll have a good chance of getting a decent amount of money from the sale of your car. 


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