If you want your car donation to benefit a charity and its cause, be careful to whom you donate. In some cases, most of the proceeds from these gifts may go to a for-profit telemarketer working for the charity, rather than the charity itself.
Auto Donation Dollars Hit a Fork in the Road
"About one-third of the charities we follow use telemarketing companies," says Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing and chief financial officer for the nonprofit monitoring organization Charity Navigator. According to Miniutti, these for-profit companies take an average of 60 percent of funds raised through phone campaigns.
Sometimes they take everything. In a telemarketing campaign, there may be a dollar target set by the charity, and if it isn't reached, "the for-profit takes it all," Miniutti says. "Some charities actually lose money."
Charities that take car donations instead of money may get 50 percent of the value of all contributed vehicles, according to Daniel Borochoff, president of the nonprofit watchdog CharityWatch. That's still not much. After all, when you donate a car with a charity's benefit in mind, you probably don't want half the proceeds to go to a for-profit business.
The more heart-rending the cause, the more likely it is that the charity uses a telemarketing company. "Everyone is sympathetic to those causes," Borochoff says. "More controversial causes are much less likely to use for-profits, because the companies can't make much money from them." For the same reason, telemarketing and other fundraising companies work primarily with large nonprofits.
To find out if a charity uses a telemarketing company, check CharityWatch (membership required to view ratings) and Charity Navigator . Each has its own approach to researching and reporting on nonprofits. Also, Charity Navigator does not rate charities that have less than $1 million in revenues, and some charities that specialize in car donations fall into that category.
Cut Through the Telemarketing Spiel
If you find yourself on the phone talking to a telemarketer who is trying to convince you to donate a car to charity, you can perform some due diligence in real time. "Ask who's doing the asking," says Borochoff, "and if it's a company, ask what percentage goes to the charity and how much cash is going to 'program services.'"
You might think "program services" means something such as medical care, research into a disease or special equipment for an injured veteran or a child with leukemia. But these "services" may be nothing more than "educating the public that injured veterans have needs — not actually meeting those needs," Borochoff says. "Home in on what they're actually doing." If they say research, Borochoff says, check to make sure that it's medical research, and not marketing research.
Perhaps the simplest, easiest response to a phone solicitor "is to just hang up," says Miniutti. There is no reason to agree to a telephone solicitation to donate a car.
When the Telemarketer Relationship Works
Nonprofit Southern California Public Radio regularly grosses 80 percent from the proceeds of its vehicle donations, totaling $1 million annually.
"A reasonable return on car donations is 60 percent to 80 percent," says Rob Risko, director of membership for Southern California Public Radio. To get those numbers, the organization heavily researches potential for-profit partners and engages them in small one-month trial campaigns. If Southern California Public Radio hires the company, it monitors the contractor's activities daily. For example, Risko and other staff are in the "to-call" lists, so "we can hear how they sound and work," he says. If the for-profit's costs rise above 25-28 cents for each dollar raised, "we call vendors to find out why," he says.
As Southern California Public Radio shows, charities can benefit from using telemarketing and other fundraising companies. Nevertheless, if you are solicited for a car donation by phone, mail or advertising, make sure you know who's asking and where the money really goes.
Here are 10 simple steps that will help you turn your used car into cash. Everything from pricing to advertising and negotiating is covered in this short, easy-to-follow process.
Steps to Selling Your Car Know the Market Price Your Car Competitively Give Your Car "Curb Appeal" Where to Advertise Your Car Create Ads That Sell Showing Your Car Negotiate for Your Best Price Handling Complications Finalize the Sale After the Sale
Step 1: Know the Market Is your car going to be easy to sell? Is it a hot commodity? Or will you have to drop your price and search out additional avenues to sell it? Here are a few general rules to answer these questions: Family sedans, while unexciting to many, are in constant demand by people needing basic, inexpensive transportation. The sale of convertibles and sports cars is seasonal. Sunny weather brings out the buyers. Fall and winter months will be slow. Trucks and vans, used for work, are steady sellers and command competitive prices. Don't underestimate their value. Collector cars will take longer to sell and are often difficult to price. However, these cars can have unexpected value if you find the right buyer. Your first step is to check on-line classified ads to see how much other sellers are asking for your type of car. Keep in mind that dealers will have different prices than private party listings. The eBay.com classifieds 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. Take note of their condition, mileage, geographi location and selling price so you can list your car at a price that will sell it quickly
Step 2: Price Your Car Competitively Once you have surveyed the on-line classified ads, use the Edmunds Appraisal tool to determine the fair value of your car. Edmunds.com adjusts its TMV prices for mileage, color, region, options and condition. There are always some exceptions to the rules of pricing, so you should follow your intuition. And be sure to leave a little wiggle room in your asking price. Ask for slightly more money than you are actually willing to accept. If you want to get $12,000 for the car, you should list the car at $13,500. People tend to negotiate in big chunks ($500-$1,000) rather than small increments ($100-$200). That way, when a person makes you a lower offer, it will be closer to your actual price, rather than below it. You may have noticed how creative used-car dealers get in pricing cars. Their prices usually end in "995," as in $12,995. Are we not supposed to notice that the car basically costs $13,000? There is a lot of psychology in setting prices. A product that doesn't sell well at $20 might jump off the shelf at $19.95. On the other hand, as a private party seller, you don't want to look like a car dealer. Therefore, you might want to take a simple approach and set your price at a round figure such as $14,000 or $13,500.
Step 3: Give Your Car "Curb Appeal" When people come to look at your car, they will probably make up their minds to buy it or not within the first few seconds. This is based on their first look at the car. So you want this first look to be positive. You want your car to have "curb appeal." Before you advertise your car for sale, make sure it looks clean and attractive. This goes beyond just taking it to the car wash. Here is a to-do list to help you turn your heap into a cream puff: Wash and vacuum the car and consider having it detailed. Make sure your car is both mechanically sound and free from dents, dings and scrapes. Consider making low-cost repairs yourself rather than selling it "as is." Shovel out all the junk from the inside of the car. That way, when a prospective buyer goes for a test-drive, they can visualize the car as theirs. Wipe the brake dust off the wheel covers and treat the tires with a tire gloss product. Thoroughly clean the windows (inside and out) and all the mirrored surfaces. Wipe down the dashboard and empty the ashtrays. Have all your maintenance records ready to show prospective buyers. If the car needs servicing or even a routine oil change, take care of that before putting it up for sale. Have your mechanic check out the car and issue a report about its condition. You can use this to motivate a buyer who is on the fence. Order a vehicle history report from Autocheck.com and show it to the buyer to prove the car's title is clean and the odometer reading is accurate.
Step 4: Where to Advertise Your Car Now that your car is looking great and running well, it's time to advertise it for sale. In the past, people advertised in expensive newspaper classified ads. But now, on-line classified ads are the preferred method, not only for convenience, but also because they have a wider geographical reach. Here are the main markets for advertising used cars: Web sites: AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, Craigslist.com and eBay Classifieds are the most popular. Craigslist and eBay classifieds are free. The others are not. Social media: Use Facebook and Twitter to let your circle know you are selling your car. Ask your contacts to spread the word. Peer-to-peer sites: Companies such as Beepi , Carvana , Tred and Zipflip connect buyer and sellers and are a growing presence in the used-car marketplace online. Each operates a little differently, so check the sites for details of their services. These can include car inspections, warranties and return policies for buyers. Message boards: Many online car forums have classified sections in which you can list your car. Word of mouth: Tell your friends, co-workers and family. The car itself: It's old-fashioned, but putting a "For Sale" sign in the car window can be an effective way to sell it. One last word of advice about advertising: if you run a classified ad, be sure you are available to take phone calls — and texts — from possible buyers. Many people won't leave a message for a return call. So answer the phone or reply quickly to a text — and be polite. Creating a good first impression is the first step in getting buyers to see the car in person.
Step 5: Create Ads That Sell Think about what you are telling people when you write your ad. Little words convey a lot. Besides the price, your ad should also include the year, make, model and trim level of the car you are selling along with the mileage, color, condition and popular options. When creating "For Sale" signs or putting an ad online, you have an opportunity to show how eager you are to sell the car. Do this with the following abbreviations and phrases: Must Sell!: This often means the seller is leaving town and needs to dump the car at a fire sale price. OBO: This stands for "or best offer" and it indicates that you are willing to entertain offers below the stated price. This usually means you are eager to sell the car. Asking price: This also communicates the feeling that you will negotiate, but it is one notch below OBO on the eagerness scale. Firm: This word is used to rebuff attempts to negotiate. It indicates that you aren't in a hurry to sell the car — you are most interested in getting your price.
Step 6: Showing Your Car There are many unexpected bumps in the road that can arise while selling a used car. These will be handled easily if you are dealing with a reasonable person. So, as you are contacted by prospective buyers, use your intuition to evaluate them. If they seem difficult, pushy or even shady, wait for another buyer. With the right person, selling a used car should be simple. Some sellers feel uncomfortable about having buyers come to their house to see the car. However, you can generally screen buyers on the phone. If they sound suspicious, don't do business with them. If you don't want people knowing where you live, arrange to show the car at a park or shopping center near your home. However, keep in mind that people will eventually see your address when you sign the title over to them. Keep in mind that when you sell your car, people will also be evaluating you. They will be thinking, "Here's the person who's owned this car for the past few years. Do I trust him or her?" Buyers will probably be uneasy about making a big decision and spending money. Put them at ease and answer their questions openly. Potential buyers will want to test-drive the car. If in doubt, check to make sure they have a driver license. Ride along with them so you can answer any questions about the car's history and performance. Also, they may not know the area, so you might have to guide them. Some buyers will want to take the car to a mechanic to have it inspected. If you have an inspection report from your mechanic, this might put their doubts to rest. However, if they still want to take the car to their mechanic, this is a reasonable request. By now, you should have a feeling for the person's trustworthiness. If you feel uncomfortable or have reason to think they will steal the car, decline the offer or go along with them. Be ready for trick questions such as, "So, what's really wrong with the car?" If you get this, refer them to the mechanic's report or invite them to look over the car more carefully.
Step 7: Negotiate for Your Best Price If a person comes to look at the car and it passes their approval after a test-drive, you can expect them to make an offer. Most people are uncomfortable negotiating, so their opening offer might take several forms. "I like the car, but..." This is the softest way to negotiate on the price. They may not even state that the price seems too high. If they say, "I like the car, but..." and then lapse into uncomfortable silence, you might consider an appropriate response. If you really want to move the car, you could say, "How much would you be willing to pay?" "What's your best price?" This is a more direct way to probe the seller to find out how much he or she will come down. If you get this from a prospective buyer, don't seem too eager to reduce your price. "Would you accept...?" Now we're getting somewhere. This buyer has thought it over and is making an offer. But the offer is being presented in a polite manner designed to allow for a counter offer. "Take it or leave it." This buyer is making an offer that supposedly leaves no room for a counter offer. In reality, this buyer might be bluffing. Still, they are sending a message that they are close to their final price. The only way to know for sure whether it really is a "take it or leave it" offer is to leave it — and let them leave. They may return tomorrow ready to pay your price. The above are just a few of the openers you might encounter. Think of your responses ahead of time so you won't be caught unprepared. In general, it's a good idea to hold to your price when your car first goes up for sale. If you don't get any buyers right away, you'll know you have to be flexible about the price. If you post an online ad you might get people trying to negotiate via e-mail. The problem with this is that they haven't even seen the car yet. If you discount the price by e-mail, they may ask for another price reduction after they've inspected it. Instead, respond by saying, "Come see the car first and then we can discuss the price."
Step 8: Handling Complications In some cases, you might reach an agreement with a buyer that is contingent on performing repair work on the car. This can lead to misunderstandings down the line, so avoid this if you can. The best thing to do is have your car in good running order while being fully aware of any necessary repairs. If you state clearly in your ads that the car is being sold "as is," you can refer to this statement when it's time to close the deal. Still, a trip to the prospective buyer's mechanic might turn up a new question about the car's condition. What to do? This must be handled on a case-by-case basis. If the repair is needed and you trust the mechanic's assessment, you could propose reducing the agreed-upon price by all, or part, of the amount for the repair. If the repair is questionable but the buyer is insistent, split the difference, or have the car taken to your mechanic for further evaluation. Remember, the older the car, the more a mechanic is likely to find. At some point, you have to draw the line. You may have to say to the buyer, "True, this work could be done. But the car drives well as it is. And the proposed repair isn't addressing a safety concern." After all, a used car — particularly an old one — isn't expected to be perfect.
Step 9: Finalize the Sale Rules governing the sale of motor vehicles vary from state to state. Make sure you check with the department of motor vehicles (DMV) in your state, and keep in mind that much of the information is now available on DMV Web sites. When selling your car, it's important to limit your liability. If someone drives away in the car you just sold and they get into an accident, can you be held responsible? There are two ways to deal with this concern. Once you have the money from the sale (it's customary to request either cash or a cashier's check), record the odometer reading and sign the car's title over to the buyer. In some states, the license plates go along with the car. A new title will be issued and mailed to the new owner. Additionally, in most states, a release-of-liability form can be downloaded from the DMV Web site or filled out online. This establishes the time the car left your possession. But what if you still owe money on the car, and the bank is holding the title? One way to deal with this is to conclude the sale at the bank where the title is held. Call ahead and have the title ready. Then, once money has changed hands and the bank has been paid the balance of the loan, sign the title over to the buyer. In some cases, however, an out-of-state bank might hold the title. In this instance, we recommend you go with the buyer to the DMV and get a temporary operating permit based on a bill of sale. Then, after you pay off the balance of the loan with the proceeds from the car sale, have the title mailed to the new owner. Sign it over to the new owner and the transaction is complete. Finally, remember to contact your insurance agent to cancel your policy on the vehicle you have sold (or transfer the coverage to your new car).
Step 10: After the Sale In most states, the condition of a used car for sale is considered "as is" and no warranty is provided or implied. Therefore, if the car breaks down after you have sold it, you are under no obligation to refund the buyer's money or pay to have it repaired. If you have sold a car to someone who took it for inspection at a garage and the mechanic found nothing wrong with it, you have done all you can to protect yourself and the buyer. Be open about the condition of the car before the sale as well as timely and complete in transferring DMV paperwork after the sale. Doing everything correctly when you sell your used car will give you peace of mind when you are done. When done correctly, selling a used car can be a win-win situation. You have turned your used car into cash and provided reliable transportation for the next owner. Focus on the benefits to both parties and you are likely to have a smooth and profitable experience.
Checklist Consider market factors affecting the sale of your car (don't try to sell a convertible in the winter), for example. Check online classified ads to see what others in your area are asking for your type of vehicle. Determine a selling price for your car using Edmunds.com's Appraisal tool . Give your car "curb appeal" by cleaning and detailing it. Fix any problems or drop the price and sell it "as is." Get a smog inspection if required by your state DMV. Consider buying an Autocheck.com vehicle history report, or getting a mechanic's inspection report to show prospective buyers. Create a "For Sale" sign for your car window. Post an eye-catching online classified advertisement. Make yourself available to answer calls from potential buyers. Arrange to show the car to prospective buyers. Negotiate your best selling price by knowing the market and not dropping your price too quickly. Be patient. Don't let yourself be pressured. Collect payment for the car by getting a cashier's check or cash. Finalize the sale by fulfilling all state motor vehicles department paperwork to transfer ownership and limit your liability. Remove all personal items from your car before the new owner drives it away. If you have any questions as you sell your car, please reach out to the Edmunds.com Live Help team for free assistance. They'll work hard to make experience trouble free.
Just like Sweet 16 or the Big 4-Oh, a used car has significant turning points in its lifetime. In the case of a used car, these aren't birthdays but instead mileage milestones, and they can affect the car's value. If you're planning to sell or trade in your car soon, keep your eye on the odometer and sell before hitting these significant mileage points. If you're buying a used car, you should also know about these milestones and understand that extensive maintenance may soon be due — or should have been done already. While the mileage always affects the price of a used car, and is factored into the Edmunds.com True Market Value (TMV ® ) appraisal tool , three mileage markers have a greater impact on a used car's price. Here's the breakdown
First Turning Point: 30,000-40,000 Miles Most cars come with a bumper-to-bumper factory warranty that expires at either 36,000 miles or three years, whichever comes first. This is the point at which many cars are returned to the dealer from the first "owner," meaning the person who leased the car. In addition, a car's first major service visit usually comes in the range of 30,000-40,000 miles. This is when the carmaker calls for more than just an oil change and tire rotation, and it's not uncommon for this major service to cost more than $350. In addition, certain "wear items" may soon need service. Wear items are things such as brakes and tires that are expected to wear out, as opposed to things that break and need to be repaired. With this in mind, anyone getting ready to sell a car would want to put it up for sale a few thousand miles before the 36,000-mile mark or before the major service visit. Anyone shopping for used cars in this range should check that the required maintenance has been done. A savvy buyer could use the fact that the service hasn't been done yet as a bargaining chip to make a lower opening offer. To find out more about the major service visits for different cars, check the Edmunds.com Maintenance Guide .
Second Turning Point: 60,000-70,000 Miles The second major service visit is sometimes even more expensive than the first. This is particularly true of cars that have timing belts, which coordinate the turning of the pistons and the camshaft. If this belt is not changed, it will eventually snap and could cause engine damage. This service item alone costs at least $300. By the time a car has 60,000 miles it will almost certainly need tires and brakes, although more modern cars are going farther with less maintenance. Still, a seller can save money by selling or trading in a car well before this work is required. Edmunds' article, "Fix Up or Trade Up," can help guide the decision. A buyer shopping for a good used car should look up the major service visits for the specific make and model and make sure the work has been done on the car under consideration. Also, buyers should check tires and brakes and use the information on their condition when negotiating the price.
Third Turning Point: 100,000 Miles Twenty years ago, if a car had 100,000 miles on it, it was likely to be running on borrowed time. But cars are becoming more reliable and long-lived, so today's 100,000-mile car is likely still in its prime. Perceptions haven't kept pace with engineering, however, and at the 100,000-mile mark, there is a significant drop in a car's value. For example, CarMax , the used-car store, will buy cars with 100,000 miles on them, but it won't resell them to consumers. It will send them to used-car auctions , where other dealers might buy them at deeply discounted prices. With this information in mind, consider selling your car while it still has fewer than 95,000 miles on it. By doing so, shoppers using online sites will find your car if they set mileage limits below the dreaded 100,000-mile mark.
To Infinity and Beyond Once a car hits 100,000 miles, the service schedules begin to repeat themselves, requiring a major service every 30,000 or 40,000 miles. But by this time, the car's interior and exterior condition begin to overshadow other factors. After 100,000 miles, the paint might be showing its age. There's likely to be some wear and tear to the seats and other parts of the interior. In many cases, it will need other repairs as well, so the standard milestones become less important. Knowing a car's milestones and anticipating when your car will reach them can help you get the maximum value for your car when you sell it. The milestones are also important for used-car shoppers, helping them make smarter decisions when they're negotiating and buying. By keeping an eye on the odometer, both seller and buyer can strike a better deal.
Setting the right price for a used car is almost an art — a blend of research and intuition. Set the right price and you will quickly get the full value of your car. Set it the wrong way and you'll wait weeks for a call or e-mail from a buyer. Your goal is to list your car at a competitive price, but one that's on the high end of the price range. This allows you room to negotiate and still wind up with a good chunk of change. So decide where you want to close the deal and work backward from there. Say you want to sell your car for $5,000. You should list it at about $5,750. With more expensive cars, you need to leave more room, so to get $15,000, you should list the car at $16,500. There are plenty of tools and resources for finding the sweet spot for pricing your used car. Here's a step-by-step guide to this important process
1. Consider the market. Is your car in demand? Can you ask for top dollar? Is this the right time to sell it? Here are a few general rules to help you answer these questions. Family sedans, while boring to many car enthusiasts, are in constant demand by people who need basic, inexpensive transportation. Getting a good price for a convertible or sports car depends on the season in which you sell it. Sunny, summerlike weather brings out the buyers. If you sell in the fall and winter, prepare for the process to take longer. Trucks and vans, which people often use for work, sell quickly and command competitive prices. Don't underestimate their value. Collector cars take longer to sell and are tricky to price. However, these cars can bring good sale prices — if you find the right buyer. Take into account any other market conditions that might have an impact on your car. For example, if your car gets good fuel economy and gas prices are high, you will be able to ask more for it than when gas is cheap. Similarly, selling a supersize SUV for top dollar is going to be tough if gas prices are sky high. 2. Check the Pricing Guides. Use Edmunds.com True Market Value (TMV ® ) pricing to determine the fair value of your car. TMV prices are adjusted for mileage, color, options, condition and even region of the country. Keep in mind that TMV is a transaction price — not an asking price. It's where you want to wind up after negotiations. And don't forget to take a look at other pricing guides for comparison sake. 3. Survey your competition. Review classified ads on such Web sites as Auto Trader , Craigslist and eBay Motors to see the asking prices for other cars like yours. Most sites offer advanced searches to find close matches to your vehicle. But keep in mind that these are asking prices, not selling prices, and might just be wishful thinking by the seller. Compare the cars' condition, mileage, geographic location and asking price to your vehicle to guide you in setting the right price. 4. Price your car competitively. As mentioned earlier, be sure to leave wiggle room for negotiations. Ask for slightly more money than you expect. If you get your asking price, that's great. But if you have to go lower, it won't be a terrible loss. Also consider the psychological aspects of car pricing by staying just below benchmark numbers such as $10,000 (price it at $9,900) or $20,000 (price it at $19,900). Car dealers take this philosophy to an extreme by listing everything on their lots with a price that ends in "999" ($12,999, for example; apparently, we shoppers are not supposed to notice that the car basically costs $13,000). Still, this tactic demonstrates the psychology of setting prices. A product that doesn't sell well at $20 might jump off the shelf at $19.95. As a private-party seller, however, you don't want to look like a car dealer. Therefore, you might want to take a simplified approach and set your price at round figures such as $12,750 or $12,500. 5. Tap your intuition. Once you have considered all the hard data, it's time to consult your intuition. Perhaps you have a hunch that your car is desirable, or that the time is right for you to ask a certain price. As you do this gut check, remember that it's always a good idea to err on the side of a higher asking price. If necessary, you can lower the price until you get callers. On the other hand, if you err on the low side, you'll sell it quickly but won't get the car's full value.
What To Do About Hard-To-Price Cars If you have a very old car or unusual car, you might not find it in some pricing guides or be able to locate others of its kind on sales sites for comparison. However, you can check AutoTrader Classics and also Hemmings . Both have online listings of collector cars. You also can try talking to other collectors or mechanics. And you can always just type the year, make and model of the car into the Google search box and then add: "for sale." For example, if you type "1967 Saab 96 for sale," you'll get many local classified ad listings.
Research Equals Reward Whether you're selling a 2001 Toyota Camry or a 1963 Studebaker Avanti, take the time to do some research before you set a price for your used car. If you do your job correctly, the car will almost seem to sell itself.
Many people who have browsed online private-party listings for used cars have run into this. A car catches your attention. You click on the link to see more photos, but there is only one image, with the car not fully in the frame. Or worse, there are a number of photos, but they are blurry and were taken at night with a low-quality cell phone camera. Poor photos make your car less appealing to a buyer, prolong the selling process and lead to customers who aren't exactly sure what they're getting. You don't have to be an expert photographer to create an effective used-car listing. You just need to know what to focus on and when to take the picture. The following tips will show you how to photograph your car, which creates a better used car listing and in turn sells your car much more quickly.
There are two important points we need to make before you even start. First, wash the car. Make sure it's nice and clean, and the wheels and tires are shiny. And second, roll up the windows. It gives the car a smooth, solid look
Use the Right Camera These days, the most convenient option is to pull a smartphone out of your pocket and use it to take photos of your car. And if you've purchased a smartphone in the last few years, it should suffice. But we all know someone who has held onto a phone for way too long. Grainy photos shot on an iPhone 3G or old Blackberry aren't going to cut it. Instead, use a point-and-shoot digital camera, even if it is a few years old. The image will be superior to any taken on an old cell phone.
The Golden Hour Where and when you take your photos can make all the difference in your shots. Don't go out on your lunch break and snap photos of the car in a parking lot. The light is too harsh at midday and your photos will look washed out. Similarly, don't take photos at night, because a camera's flash is a poor substitute for the sun. In photography, the "golden hour" is when the sun rises and when it is about to set. Photos taken at this time are less likely to be overexposed, and the light has a warm look that enhances the colors in the photo. The Golden Hour Calculator can help you determine the perfect time in your area. If your schedule doesn't allow you to take photos during the golden hour, your best bet is between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Cloudy mornings work well, too. The location of your photo shoot can also help the car stand out among the crowded online listings. Try to find an isolated location or parking lot. This allows your car to be the focal point in the photos. The Edmunds offices are a few miles from the beach, so we often use it as a location. If you are landlocked, a nearby park is a good choice. In a pinch an empty parking lot will suffice.
Quantity and Variety The more photos your listing has, the more likely it is that your car will sell. If the online listing is free, upload the maximum number of photos the site allows. With sites that charge for listings, it's worth the extra cost to have more photos in the ad. You don't have to spring for the top package, either. Something that gives you about 10 photos should be sufficient. Take photos of the car at eye level. There's no need to get creative with fancy high and low angles. Start out in front of the car and make your way around it, snapping a photo from every angle. You may not use them all in the ad, but you can sort that out later. Make sure you get the basic car-selling angles covered. This includes the front, back, side profile and wheels. Turn the wheels left slightly so that you can take a photo of the tire tread. Finally, open up the hood and take a photo of the engine. Inside the car, make sure you take a photo of the seats, paying close attention to the driver seat, which tends to get more wear. Sit in the back of the car and recline the front seats to take photos of the front section of the interior. You'll want to show the stereo and instrument cluster, the shifter (to show whether the car is an automatic or manual) and the condition of the steering wheel. Be sure to snap a photo of the odometer so that prospective buyers can see that the mileage reading shown is consistent with what you have said in your ad. If your car has any special selling points or features (for example if it's a convertible), show them. Photograph it with the top both up and down. If it's a big SUV with folding seats, fold them down to show off the storage space.
Be Honest If the car has any imperfections, don't try to angle the shots to hide them. In fact, you should take a photo of any dents or scratches on the car. Be up front about them. The same goes for any curbed wheels. A buyer is going to see the car eventually, and it is best to be able to say, "I had a photo of this in the ad," rather than "Oops, I forgot about that." Being honest with the imperfections can help with your negotiations. A prospective buyer is likely to offer you a lower amount if he inspects the car and finds a dent that wasn't shown in the ad. But if you had a photo of that dent in the ad, you can hold your ground and say that you were up front about the damage and have priced the car accordingly.
Too Good To Be True? A final word of caution comes from Edmunds.com staff photographer Kurt Niebuhr: If your photos look too well-produced, they may make people suspicious. Potential buyers might think you used stock photos and will be less likely to reply to the ad. Honest images, not glamour shots, are what you're after.
Related Articles: Make a YouTube Video Ad To Sell Your Used Car Give Your Used Car Curb Appeal
A powerful way to sell your used car is to create a simple video "walkaround" of your vehicle. It's what car salesmen do with potential buyers: walk them around a vehicle as they point out various features and options. You then post your video on YouTube , a site that's visited by millions of viewers each day. Now that most digital cameras can record video, and you have a free, heavily trafficked place to upload videos, it makes sense to have a video ad in addition to an online classified. Put the video link in the classified ad and the classified link in the video to reach different types of buyers.
A video ad gives shoppers the sense that they are standing beside your car, listening to you describe the key features and options while they enjoy total anonymity and no risk. They don't have to drive anywhere to see the car you're selling and have no sense of obligation about purchasing it. Clicking on a video link is a lot easier than picking up the phone and calling a seller they don't know
According to Dealer.com , 59 percent of shoppers reported that they would choose a dealership with video product descriptions over one without, if they were to find similar vehicles on both sites. Meanwhile, a YouTube spokesperson said that online video ads are growing, pointing to the fact that a search for the term "used cars" produces 256,000 hits on the site. If video advertising works for car dealers, it can — with a little modification — work for you. All you need is an Internet connection and a camera that digitally records video.
Here are some tips on creating your ad: Park your car in an attractive location that's free of noise or traffic. Briefly rehearse what you want to show and say in the video. Start your walkaround facing the front left headlight and move clockwise around the vehicle. Provide basic information, including the vehicle's year, make, model, approximate mileage and any special features or damage. Don't try to hype the car in your narration, so shoppers know they won't be dealing with a high-pressure seller and will feel more comfortable calling you. Keep the video short — under 2 minutes — and create one continuous take to avoid the need for editing.
To improve the quality of the video: Shoot several versions and review them all to see which is best. If possible, record the video just before sundown, when there are no shadows and the light is most attractive. Watch out for harsh reflections from the car's chrome, which will streak the video. Try to keep your shadow and reflection out of the shot. Don't mention price in the video, since that might be changing. You don't want to have to re-record the video.
Once you're satisfied with your video, post it on YouTube first. (If you've never uploaded to YouTube before and need help, watch the channel's YouTube 101 video, How To Upload .) Make sure to include appropriate keywords, such as year, make and model, for easy searching. Then, create a free classified listing on Craigslist or eBay Motors and link to your video ad. (Unfortunately, AutoTrader, which is an effective site for selling a car, does not permit actual links to be included in its ads.) Remember that most of your traffic will come from the classified ad, rather than the video, so it's best to list your contact information there. And it's a good idea to shoot close-up still photos of the vehicle's details and put these into your classified ad. That will whet buyers' appetites for your video. Once all the ads are posted, check back every day and watch the number of views grow as more shoppers watch your video. And don't forget to take down the video once you've sold the car.
Whether you're buying or selling a used car, you need to make sure to file all the paperwork and close the deal properly. While the laws governing the sale of motor vehicles vary from state to state, the general outline of the deal is similar. For the specific steps, make sure you check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. As a seller, you will need to make sure you receive the proper payment for your car and limit your liability (in case the new owner crashes the car right after driving away in it). Below, we take a look at the sales transaction from both sides: the seller and the buyer. As a buyer, you will have to prove you are the new legal owner of the car in order to register it. In most cases, this means you will have to get the title (often called the "pink slip") from the seller or possibly a bill of sale. With the proper documents in hand, go to your state's DMV or motor vehicle registry, where you may be required to pay sales tax before you receive the new registration, title and (in some states) new license plates
When You Sell Your Car Getting payment: Cold, hard cash is the easiest way to collect payment for a used car. The buyer might request a receipt for the cash. If you provide a bill of sale, this will serve as a receipt. When cars are sold for amounts over $2,000, a cashier's check is recommended. When cars are being sold remotely, you can use an escrow service to facilitate the transaction. The escrow service essentially verifies that the funds are paid and transfers them from the buyer to the seller. It's unwise to accept a promise of future payment from a buyer, even if it is someone you know. If the car is wrecked, the new owner's motivation to pay you back plummets. You are well within your rights to refuse to float loan payments, and in most cases the buyer will understand and quietly back down. Limiting your liability: What if someone drives away in the car you just sold and gets into an accident? Can you be held responsible? There are two ways to deal with this concern. First, record the odometer reading, and sign the car's title over to the buyer. Second, in most states, a release-of-liability form can be downloaded from the registry of motor vehicles website. This story has links to the different Departments of Motor Vehicles . Managing complications: What if the buyer calls the next day and wants you to take the car back? Or what if the buyer claims you didn't reveal something about the car or that a mechanical problem has been discovered? Both buyer and seller should keep in mind that most states assume a used car is being sold "as is." That means there are no promises or guarantees after the sale is concluded. If you are a buyer, it's imperative you thoroughly inspect the car before purchase. Sellers can head off trouble by encouraging buyers to have an inspection. Car Seller's Checklist Have a smog test performed (if required in your state). Fill out a release-of-liability form, including current mileage, and file it with the DMV. Provide maintenance records (if available) to the new owner. Receive payment in cash, by cashier's check or, if selling remotely, through an escrow service. Take the license plates off the car (if required by your state). Remove personal items from the glove compartment and other storage areas. Hand over both sets of keys to the new owner, along with any warranty papers for the car, the battery, tires, etc. Cancel insurance for the car.
When You Buy a Car If you buy a used car from a dealership, the dealer will handle all the paperwork and register the car for you. In private-party sales, the seller and buyer handle the paperwork themselves. While there are many small steps to closing a used-car sale, the big picture is this: You as the buyer need to obtain proof that you purchased the car legally and get a statement of what you paid for it. Where to do the transaction : Since you will be handling payment for the car, a bank's lobby makes a nice neutral meeting place. Often, you can also ask bank workers to make photocopies of the documents if necessary. If there is a lien on the car: In some cases, the car you are buying might have a lien on it. That means the bank or lender is in possession of the title. Banks often handle this kind of used-vehicle sale, so check with the bank to learn exactly how to proceed. Essentially, the seller will need to make sure to pay off the balance of the loan before the car is transferred to you as the buyer. This process might take some time and delay the sale. One way to deal with this situation is to conclude the sale at the bank that holds the title. The seller can call ahead and ask the bank to have the title ready. Then, when the seller has paid off the balance of the loan, he or she can sign the title over to you. Beware of Fraud Buyers need to be particularly cautious when buying a car sight unseen from an online auction . That process is more complicated, and you could be the target of scammers. Car Buyer's Checklist Get a smog test from the seller (if required by your state). Make sure the registration is current. Otherwise, you could be held responsible for late fees. Ask the seller to sign the title and record all the information, such as odometer readings, properly. (In some states you might need a transfer-of-ownership document, which is attached to the title.) Have the seller fill out a bill of sale if required in your state. You can show this to the police if you are stopped right after the sale. Pay state sales tax when the car is registered. Activate or update your insurance policy.
Wrapping It Up Private-party buying and selling involves some trust, but it goes most smoothly when you are well acquainted with the laws and common practices governing the process. Take the time to read and follow our checklists and let them guide you safely and quickly through the transaction.
You're getting ready to buy a new or used car. The car you currently drive is in good enough shape and may have some value to it. Should you sell it yourself or trade it in? Simply put, if you want the most possible money for your vehicle, you're better off selling it yourself. However, this takes time and perhaps more effort than people are willing to invest. Forty-eight percent of all car purchases in 2013 included a trade-in, according to Edmunds data. Trade-in offers are typically less than you'd get in a private-party sale because the dealership must factor in the cost to recondition the vehicle and make a profit when it resells it. The plus for car shoppers is that trading in your car can be very convenient. If you follow these tips, you can get the most for your trade-in
Step 1: Appraise Your Car's Trade-in Value To determine if you're being offered a reasonable price on your trade-in, you first must know what your car is worth. Use the Edmunds car appraisal tool and look for the trade-in True Market Value ® (TMV ® ). Read "How Much Is My Car Worth" if you need tips on how to appraise your car. Print out the results page and take it with you to the dealership. You also can pull up the trade-in value on the Edmunds smartphone app . It is important to accurately take stock of all the car's options and to be honest about the condition level. Note that only a small percentage of cars will actually be in "outstanding" condition. Most cars that are well maintained will be in "clean" condition. When in doubt about the condition level, it's best to err on the side of caution.
Step 2: Get a CarMax Estimate or a Dealership Quote We recommend taking your vehicle to CarMax for its first appraisal. Show up early and you can get in and out in about 30 minutes. CarMax will give your vehicle a detailed inspection, along with a written appraisal that's good for up to seven days. At this point, you can either take the CarMax offer or go to other dealerships to see if they'll make a better offer. In our experience, we've found that CarMax offers more for your trade-in. If you are "upside down" or "under water" on your car loan, however, you'll have to pay CarMax the difference between what you owe and what the vehicle appraised for. If you're not prepared to do that, trading in at a dealership might be a better option. Don't have a CarMax nearby? Call the used-car manager of your local dealership to set an appointment for an appraisal on your vehicle. Timing is critical here. Whereas CarMax might have at least two appraisers, most dealerships will only have one person appraising potential trade-ins. If you show up on a Saturday afternoon, you could be waiting for a while. Try to schedule the appraisal for a weekday in the morning, when things are less hectic. Keep in mind that the trade-in price you're offered at the dealership (or CarMax, for that matter) can vary depending on a number of factors, including the car's condition level, the dealer's current inventory and how likely it is that the car will sell. There may also be special promotions around trade-ins. More about that later. If you have a CarMax appraisal, you will already have a reference point to compare the dealer's offer. If not, you may want to try to get two dealers' appraisals. Here's a good strategy you could try: Take your car to a dealer other than one that sells your car's brand. For example, take your Toyota Camry to a Chevrolet dealer. This way, your car won't be competing with six other Camrys on the lot. A non-Toyota dealer (which is very likely to sell used cars of other brands) may offer you more for the Camry than the Toyota dealer would.
Step 3: Negotiate or Close the Deal Once you have appraisals, you have a couple of options. You can either take one of the offers you have, or negotiate (not an option for CarMax) for a better price. If the CarMax offer is the highest, sell it there. If you have your paperwork in order, you could be done in 30-40 minutes. If you are upside down on the car and need to fold the loan balance into your next car's financing, however, the dealership is the best place to do so. If you're deciding between two dealerships with similar offers, you may want to lean toward the one at which you intend to buy your car. This gives you some leverage, since you're giving the dealership business on both the trade-in and the car purchase. The first trade-in offer at a dealership is often on the low end, so there's room to negotiate. Say something like this: "I intend on buying a car from you today, so if you can improve on the trade-in price, I'd love to give you my business." Another strategy is to use Edmunds TMV as a guide. Say something like this: "I've done some research on this car and it looks like the Edmunds trade-in value is slightly higher than your offer. I realize it's an average, but can you beat this price?" Sometimes this will work, sometimes it won't. But if you've solicited more than one offer, you should have some options. If you keep getting the same offers for your trade-in and none of them seem to be what you had in mind, you may have to temper your expectations. This may very well be the market value of the car, no matter what you think it should be worth. At this point, you can either bite the bullet and take what you're being offered, or try to sell the car yourself. Some people may even choose to keep the car as a daily driver, rather than pile the miles on the new car. You may be able to make timing work to your advantage. Target the end of the month, when the dealer may be more willing to give you an attractive offer, or look for special promotions, such as when the dealership may offer extra cash as part of a trade-in event that's meant to beef up the used-car inventory. Keep negotiations for the new car and your trade-in separate. The trade-in amount should be written in the contract as a credit against the purchase price of the car. In some states, you only pay sales tax on the difference between the new car and the trade-in. This means that on top of what you receive for your trade-in, you are paying less sales tax on your new car. This tax advantage is a net savings for you and could make you decide that trading in is worth it.
Common Trade-in Mistakes We've just gone over the steps on handling the trade-in like a pro, but the truth is, there are some fairly common mistakes that people make when they're trading in a car. Here are some and how to avoid them. Bringing a freshly cleaned car: A former car salesman told us that there's no better way to spot a person who will be buying a car that day than to look for someone who arrives with a sparkling-clean car. You might be thinking, "Don't you want the car to be clean so it can make a good impression?" The truth is, a little bit of dirt won't change the value of the car. That's not to say that you should bring in a car with a bunch of fast food bags and soda cans strewn about, but don't feel the need to have the car detailed beforehand. This way, you can play your cards close to the vest about whether you really intend to buy that day. Repairing the car: People sometimes try to fix dents on their cars or throw on a new set of tires, thinking it will substantially add to the value of their trade-in. This seldom works. The dealer can usually fix flaws and put on new tires for substantially less than you can. Overestimating the value: People tend to get sentimentally attached to their cars and often think they're worth more than they actually are. They look for the car's highest value on an appraisal site and treat it as though it were set in stone. The truth is that appraisals are averages, meaning some people are offered less and others more. Rather than fighting over the car's value, your efforts might be better spent on negotiating the price of your new car. Hiding information: Some shoppers fib about a trade-in offer they've received in the hopes that the dealer might try to beat the imaginary offer. This rarely works. An experienced appraiser will either see right through the inflated offer or call the bluff by asking to see the estimate in writing. If your offer is for real, display it proudly. This is where the CarMax in-writing offer comes in handy. Also, some shoppers wait until the last minute to mention that they have a trade-in as part of the car-buying deal. This is one of the top Car Buying Myths out there. It's best to be up front about the trade-in from the very beginning. If you follow these steps and sidestep the common pitfalls, the trade-in process will run smoothly. The key is to know what your car is worth, shop around and be realistic about the offers you get.
Selling a car for less than $2,000 is a very different experience from selling wheels that go for $20,000, $10,000 or even $5,000. This is the bottom of the market, and you'll encounter unique questions and problems. This article will help you navigate this territory, anticipate challenges that may come your way and ultimately maximize your selling price
Under $2K Selling Steps 1. Decide what to repair Let's face facts: In this price range, your car is probably an older vehicle with lots of miles on the clock. Trading the car in at a dealership would likely net you next to nothing. So should you fix it or sell it "as is"? Of course this will depend on the cost of repairs, but the selling process will be quicker and smoother if you make major repairs beforehand. Experts say that getting a repair estimate will help determine your sales tactic. "If the cost of fixing it is half the price of what you're asking for, you may be better off selling it for less as a 'parts car,'" said Edmunds Automotive Editor John DiPietro. If repair costs are less than half the car's value but are still more than you want to shoulder, offer a copy of the estimate to the potential buyer, who can factor this into his or her decision. You can also offer potential buyers a vehicle history report to show you're negotiating in good faith by disclosing potential problems. This can also prevent misunderstandings and problems after you make the sale. 2. Set a price with wiggle room Determine the value using Edmunds' used car True Market Value (TMV ® ) appraiser , then look at what comparable vehicles are selling for in your area. This gives you an idea what your target selling price should be. But there will be some negotiating before you get to this price, so you have to add a little wiggle room. For example, we recently had to sell one of our personal vehicles. It was an older salvage title car, but we wanted to get no less than $500 for it. When we posted it on Craigslist, we set the asking price to $900. The car eventually sold for $650. 3. Decide where to advertise When selling a car in this range, Craigslist is a valuable tool in getting the word out. Auto Trader is a more established venue for advertising your vehicle, but the listings cost about $40 each. Since your profit margin is already pretty thin, start with Craigslist or other local free listing services, and move on to paid ads if you aren't getting results in about three weeks. 4. Create an effective ad The more details you give about the car's condition, the more likely you are to make a quick sale. "You have an unlimited amount of space, so use it," said Susan MacTavish Best, spokeswoman for Craigslist. In the body of your ad, give all pertinent information about the car's condition. "Be honest in your description," says Best. "If it's a lemon, say it's a lemon." Make it easy to read by using bullet points, and include photos from different angles of the car's interior and exterior. Craigslist lets you post up to four photographs, but they tend to be small. So consider posting more photos on a sharing site like Flickr and include the link in your ad. We recommend posting only your e-mail address at first to avoid getting annoying calls early in the morning and late at night. 5. Get paid in cash In this price bracket, asking to be paid in cash is essential since this will avoid problems with bad checks or fraudulent money orders.
What To Expect After Placing Your Ad 1. Initial flurry of prospective buyers When you post something on Craigslist, you'll get the most activity the first few days after the entry is posted (after the third or fourth day, your post will be buried under countless new ads). One way of managing the heavy activity is to schedule your posting at the beginning of the weekend or when you have a day off so you are able to show the car to multiple shoppers. 2. Scam e-mails A common scam we have seen, particularly on Craigslist, is an e-mail asking you to click on a link to "get an insurance quote." Other fraud schemes suggest that you can get a better price if you go to their Web site, or people from out of state will "wire the money" to you. According to Craigslist's fraud/scam page, if you deal locally with people you can meet in person, you will avoid 99 percent of the scams. 3. Blind negotiators With low-end cars, many people will want to negotiate a price before even seeing the car. This is problematic, since they will likely request a further price reduction once they inspect the car. Obviously they're trying to save time, test your price flexibility and take advantage of the anonymity of e-mail or the telephone. As a rule of thumb, "Don't negotiate until a person has seen the car," said DiPietro. Tell prospective buyers you can't negotiate because any price adjustments should be specifically related to issues concerning the car's condition. 4. Ridiculous offers Since the Internet and telephone are anonymous, people feel more confident and more likely to make offers that they would never make in person. We've had people offer to trade us an even older vehicle; another person asked us to donate the car to him since he was a struggling teacher. One guy even offered to give us 13 Playstation games and $150 in exchange for our car. Don't acknowledge these offers. 5. People who want to flip your car There are many people who buy old cars, make a few repairs, and sell them for a profit. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but the main goal is to offer you the bare minimum, so they can maximize their profit. 6. No-show headaches In this price category, buyers are more apt to schedule an appointment to come see the car and then fail to show up. You will make your life much easier if you try to weed out the flakes over the phone. Set only a specific time rather than saying, "Stop by any time this afternoon." Also, politely let them know that you will not be available outside the agreed-upon time. Then, urge them to call if their plans change, and reschedule the inspection.
A man who listed his car for sale on Craigslist is killed by a man who wanted to strip the turbocharger and other parts from the vehicle. A New York man lists his BMW online, only to be stabbed and stuffed into the car's trunk by an ex-con who arranged a meeting on the pretext of buying the vehicle. Although such stories show the potential danger of private-party used-car sales, don't let these extreme cases deter you. You can safely sell your used car — and maximize its value — by taking the right preventive measures. Craigslist , one of several sites that facilitate private-party car sales, says that its buyers and sellers complete billions of transactions with an "extremely low" incidence of violent crime. Still, selling your car does put you at risk of fraud , scams, robbery and possible personal attacks.
The safety advice in this article comes from the police and my own personal experience selling more than 50 cars from Edmunds' long-term test fleet . There's also another very knowledgeable but less obvious source of good tips: real-estate agents. They often meet strangers to arrange a sale and sometimes the transactions put them in vulnerable positions. Just like private-party car sellers
The Big 4 Tips for Car-Selling Safety 1. Vet callers thoroughly. When Steve Goddard, former president of the California Association of Realtors, takes a call from someone he's never met, he makes sure the caller is serious about buying a property and isn't trying to lure him into a trap to rob him. "I ask them lots of questions about what they are looking for and what their needs are," he says. "The more I engage them in conversation, the more you get a feel for them." 2. Don't go to a meeting alone. It's that simple, says Rico Fernandez, a sergeant with the Long Beach Police Department in California. "Take someone with you. People are less apt to harm you if there is someone else there." 3. Meet in a public place. Goddard says that when he meets someone for the first time, he does so at his office. While you can't do that when you're selling a car, you can arrange to meet would-be buyers in a public place, such as a shopping mall parking lot. 4. Trust your gut. Qualifying callers is a combination of intuition and experience, Goddard says. And if you're not comfortable meeting with strangers under any circumstances, you should turn the sale over to an auto broker or trade in the vehicle. You'll have to accept that you might not get the best deal, but peace of mind is priceless. So is your life.
Screening 101 If you do a good job screening buyers before you meet them face-to-face, selling your car will go much more smoothly. Listing your car on Craigslist or Autotrader.com will bring e-mails, text messages and calls from interested parties. Use your intuition to spot anything suspicious about these prospective buyers: Don't be overly eager for a sale or you might miss a warning sign. If a caller seems suspicious to you, simply hang up. Only schedule a test-drive with serious buyers you are able to reach by phone. Invite questions when you talk with them. This prevents you from having to show the car to someone who isn't really interested, or someone you'd rather not deal with. If the caller doesn't seem to know what to ask, volunteer the basics about the car: year, make, model, color, number of doors, number of miles on the car and its key features. Beware of professional buyers who just want to "flip" cars, which means reselling them quickly at a profit. Flippers bargain aggressively. You can usually identify these callers because they quickly want to get to your lowest selling price. If you have doubts, ask them if they're buying to resell. While flippers might not pose a hazard to your personal safety, it's better to avoid dealing with them. Ask who is coming on the test-drive. Evasive answers might indicate that the caller is setting up a trap. Tell the caller you will want to see a driver license before the test-drive. This might discourage anyone with criminal intentions from going any further.
On the Test-Drive When you ask to see the buyer's driver license before the test-drive, make a copy of it, if possible, and leave it with a third party. Have a friend or family member come along with you. If no one is available, at the very least let someone know where you are going and with whom you're meeting. Take your cell phone with you so you can call for help if anything goes wrong. If you are suspicious and don't want the would-be buyer to know that, arrange a code word beforehand with a friend or family member. Using the code word will be your way of telling your friend you need help. Meet prospective buyers during the day in a public area such as the parking lot of a mall. Park the car in a high traffic area where people can see you. Don't leave any valuables in the car on the test-drive. Don't leave your wallet in the center console. Accompany the buyer on the test-drive. This ensures that he can't just drive off with your car, never to be seen again. Furthermore, the buyer may be unfamiliar with the area and will need directions for the test-drive. If for some reason you can't ride along, don't give your only car key to the prospective buyer. If the "buyer" decides to take a joy ride and abandons your car, it's easier to retrieve if you have an extra key. Keep the test-drive short and go through populated areas. Most buyers don't expect a long test-drive. If your buyer wants more time, let him ask you for it.
Negotiation and Sale If the person is serious about buying the car, he will want to negotiate the price. Here are a few tips to make sure that transaction goes smoothly: Refuse any unusual requests, such as driving the would-be buyer to another location. Often, such a request is framed in terms of getting the money or arranging a loan to finish the sale. Instead, tell the buyer to make his arrangements on his own and call you back when he is ready to conclude the sale. If the test-drive begins and ends at your home, don't let the prospective buyer into the house. Conduct the transaction at the curb. Have the paperwork ready beforehand and keep the car's title, often called "pink slip," unsigned and out of sight until you have full payment. Once the deal is complete and the car is out of your hands, immediately file a "release of liability" form with the registry of motor vehicles. Then, if it's used in a crime, you won't be held responsible.