There was a time when selling your car meant finding a spot near a busy road, parking the vehicle for the day, and then leaving it with a “For Sale” sign in the windscreen. 

Scary now when you think about passing entrepreneurs realising your car is there for the day and is an excellent place to do some informal shopping for parts he needs for his business — or add your car to his collection.

Then, with security at the top of mind, it simply isn’t smart to make yourself vulnerable by approaching your informal car park to collect your car as darkness descends on the scene. Scratch this off your list and start again.

The objectives are to get the best price you can for your car and also to sell it as fast as you can.

Two things to think about before marketing your car:

A clean car sells quicker

First, clean the car. A mobile nightmare featuring a choice selection of last years’ newspapers, empty bottles, bits of food and kick marks from the kids all over the backs of the seats screams one thing: “Don’t buy me”. A good wash and even a valet will add thousands when you try to sell so make the investment.

Secondly, make sure that you have the necessary papers at hand-and if you can have the service history of the car available. Now that the car doesn’t look the municipal tip and you can prove it has been well treated, several selling options are available.

Image: Adobe Stock

Choosing a sales channel

Advertise in your local paper

The time-honoured system is to advertise the car in the local paper or take out an ad in a local car sales magazine, on Facebook, or a local group and wait for the buyers to bite.

It’s time-honoured because it works. Your car stays on your property and people come to you.

The ‘Sunday Mall’ market

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Then there is the Sunday Mall market, which seems to have dropped in popularity. The better ones offer an opportunity to load a picture of your car on their website, but many just offer the “park and sell” service at a nominal fee. It’s easy and convenient, but there is a downside.

You pay your fee, park your car, and watch the punters wander up and down the rows looking for their next ride-or maybe not. There are usually a lot of tyre kickers using the opportunity to get away from home for a few hours. 

Also, if it is an active market, you will be putting your car alongside other similar offerings. This means that if yours has a few dents more than the one next door or your price is higher, you are providing people with built-in bargaining opportunities. 

Unfortunately, what was a gathering place for private sellers and buyers has now also become a hunting ground for dealers. It’s usually easy to find the dealer cars — look for the sale info on the windscreens. They will match, offer finance and even trade-ins.

See a guy looking at your car then consulting a little book-beware a heavy negotiating session is on its way. Not a serious problem, but one of the benefits of the system has always been being able to discuss a car with its owner.


Auctions are becoming more popular. It’s an easy option; sales take place regularly and the paperwork is handled by somebody else.

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The downside is that people, including dealers, are there looking for bargains. If your car goes under the hammer when a bank has scores of repossessed cars on sale, your price could be lower than expected. The remedy for this is to have a reserve price placed on your car.

However, some auction houses may not be willing to take a vehicle and administer a reserve sale. Finally, the auctioneer doesn’t work for free; be ready to ask about what the seller’s commission fee will be.  

Going online offers advantages 

It is when the internet is considered, the options open up. The advantages are that:

  • You can scan the offerings. It can be depressing to find that cars like yours are being offered for sale at a lower price than you envisaged. Then again, you probably shouldn’t have bought that car built in Mongolia from parts sourced from scrapped Russian Trabants.
  • Contact is easier. Usually, these sites offer potential buyers the chance to contact you via email. It’s far easier to work through these and only reply to those who look the most likely. The chances are that the guy who says he will be flying in from the Cape wants to meet and then drive the car home is a bit iffy. This doesn’t apply if you are selling a Maybach with a customised set of golf clubs in the boot. That would attract national interest.
  • Most contacts will be genuine buyers. You don’t spend time browsing a site, picking out an ad and responding if you aren’t interested in the car.
  • You have a spread of sites to choose. Many sites offer options designed to make life easier. 
Image: Adobe Stock

A quick browse will reveal sites that:

  • Will come to you, assess the car, and make an immediate offer. The price may be a little lower, but the cash comes quickly, and the deal is clean. It’s vital though that you have the registration papers, bank settlement letters and car’s records with you while you do the deal.
  • Offer the benefit of letting you sell anything on wheels. The advantage is that you could find the only other person in the country who is looking for another Mongolian-assembled  Russian Trabant special.
  • Connect you with cash buyers-mostly dealers. This lets you compare offers that come through and take the most attractive.
  • Are owned by financial institutions that offer a ‘person-to-person’ service for pre-owned cars. The banks demand that vehicles undergo a comprehensive inspection and is approved before a sale is confirmed. The sale may take longer, but the upside is that there will be no payment issues.
  • Offer the same benefits of financial institutions, but add to the package by adding a safe place where buyer and seller can meet for test drives and also finalise the deal. 

The trade-in

Not to be forgotten is the trade-in. Times are tough at dealerships, which means that if you are a savvy buyer, you could get a good deal for your trade-in. Generally, if you are staying within a brand, you will get a better offer.

Now for the “S” word. Security will always be an issue when selling a car. When reaching the test-drive stage, make sure that you are in the car with only the potential buyer. Point out that you have a friend in another car following you. Discuss the route for the drive with the buyer and your friend present. 

Author: Onlineautos