Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
User avatar
Topic Author
ryuns
Posts: 3493
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:07 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by ryuns » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:29 pm

Wife and I bought a new Honda HR-V (fabulous car, btw) in September to replace or supplement Dante, our beloved 2000 Honda Civic, with its cramped quarters, no safety features, and two doors. Over that time, we've found almost no use for a second car. My wife commutes about 20 miles each way, but I bike to work and most errands, we live in a convenient place, Uber and Lyft are cheap etc.

So I'm looking to sell a car with ~160,000 miles, a myriad of cosmetic issues, but zero problems and excellent mechanic condition. It's probably worth <$3000. No rust and the paint is in good condition, but otherwise looks pretty lousy. (Damage from a couple minor accidents has gone un-repaired.) It hasn't been washed in 6 months, nor waxed--um...ever? Interior's in great shape for its age, but it hasn't been detailed or shined for a year or two. (It does get vacuumed, mercifully.) The battery is due to be changed. Starts every time, but struggles after it sits for a couple weeks. Oil needs changing. Tires need rotating. Passes smog check with no problem.

What do you think I should do/have done to the car prior to sale to maximize value but minimize cost?

Do I go get the interior detailed professionally? Exterior waxed? Or is DIY sufficient?

Do I change the battery? Mention that to the buyer? Don't say anything at all?

Keep the old generic floor mats in there? Buy temporary ones? No floor mats at all?

Anything else I should plan to disclose? Just give them the maintenance records and let them decide? I've been good about major scheduled maintenace (water pump and timing belt were changed on time, for instance), while some things, like brakes and shocks may be technically overdue, though both are totally functionally fine according to my mechanic.

I'll plan to get the oil changed and tires rotated for appearances sake.

Thanks in advance!
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton

neilpilot
Posts: 2917
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by neilpilot » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:38 pm

Duplicate Post
Last edited by neilpilot on Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

neilpilot
Posts: 2917
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by neilpilot » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:38 pm

neilpilot wrote:
ryuns wrote: while some things, like brakes and shocks may be technically overdue, though both are totally functionally fine according to my mechanic.
Brakes and shocks are done on condition, not time. If your mechanic has really looked at the brakes and shocks and they are fine, then no problem. I do most of my own maintenance, and while all my prior cars have needed new brake pads by 50k miles, my current Saturn VUE original pads have >=25% life left at 118k miles.

Brake fluid flush is the only thing that I would consider a time function on the brake system.

I'll leave it to others to answer the majority of your questions.

obgraham
Posts: 1233
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:30 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by obgraham » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:47 pm

IMHO there are two types of buyers for this car: someone looking for a cheap car (like a young person) or someone looking for inexpensive value transportation (as a second car or commuter for instance).

The first will go for looks. Clean it up, scrub the inside, Febreeze it, to make yours stand out from others.
The second understands that at 160K stuff will fail and be ready to repair it.

In neither case would I advise sinking much money into it. Sell it pretty much as is. Others may disagree.

Boats day
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:39 am

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by Boats day » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:58 pm

I have sold many used cars and if it was mine I would

Replace the battery
Put in some cheap aftermarket floor mats
Detail inside , under hood, interior and wax it.
Put maintenance records in a nice presentation folder
Change the oil.
You should have no problem selling it but remember people buy with their eyes so make sure it's spotless


Good luck

MoneyIsntEverything
Posts: 166
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:43 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by MoneyIsntEverything » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:58 pm

Deleted
Last edited by MoneyIsntEverything on Wed May 17, 2017 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Wiki

User avatar
snowshoes
Posts: 348
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:33 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by snowshoes » Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:21 pm

I buy and sell used vehicles. Considering 3 / 2000ish used Honda Civics last year, (120k plus), the markets flooded with them in BOS. There costs were all under 500.00, no big fixes, all sales were about 1200/1500 ea. with fixes. Ask your mechanic its value to him, many sellers have unrealistic expectations. Good luck!

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 10823
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:39 pm

Clean it, put it craigslist and watch all the kids come (as in teen/twenties). You'll sell it quickly. Especially if it's a manual, even if the transmission doesn't work and the engine is shot. This is the car used in the 1st Fast and Furious movie and it still holds value. Hondas are also notoriously easy to remove automatic transmissions and put in a proper manual....usually with a B18 swap.

With that said, $3000 is more than double what it's worth. $1000, it'll go quick. $1500, soon. $2000, you'll be waiting. Look in kbb. It's fair condition by your description.

Vacuum, wash and craigslist it. The end.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

Teague
Posts: 1688
Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:15 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by Teague » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:01 pm

I wouldn't spend the money on a new battery. Holding a charge for 2 weeks is not that bad, given the normal parasitic loads on a car.
Semper Augustus

randomguy
Posts: 8536
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by randomguy » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:04 pm

MoneyIsntEverything wrote:
Boats day wrote:I have sold many used cars and if it was mine I would

Replace the battery
Put in some cheap aftermarket floor mats
Detail inside , under hood, interior and wax it.
Put maintenance records in a nice presentation folder
Change the oil.
You should have no problem selling it but remember people buy with their eyes so make sure it's spotless


Good luck
+1. If the floor mats aren't that bad, you could try power washing them at the car wash and dry well. For a car with asking price ~ $3K the object is to not spend too much getting it ready, but on the other hand, most buyers don't want immediate problems to deal with (like oil change or dead battery). I doubt the prospective buyer will care as much about tire rotation as tire condition.

ETA: Also, whatever you end up doing to it, advertise the good points: New battery, good brakes, recent tires, fresh oil change, whatever it is. If you even halfway clean it up and have maintenance records, it'll be desirable. You will still get some lowball offers, but hold out for what you want.

This is a 1k-2k car. Sinking money into is a waste. With a big dent (or whatever the body damage is), nobody that cares about floor mats is going to buy this car.:) Place the craigslist ad asking for 2200 and take the first offer over 1500. If you don't get anything in a couple weeks drop the price and keep on going. As far as the battery, doesn't sound like an issue. Obviously just don't let the car sit. If they ask tell them when it was changed. If your feeling motivated then yeah a 30 buck jiffy lube and a 7 buck carwash will not kill you.

User avatar
Toons
Posts: 13427
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Hills of Tennessee

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by Toons » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:10 pm

Boats day wrote:I have sold many used cars and if it was mine I would

Replace the battery
Put in some cheap aftermarket floor mats
Detail inside , under hood, interior and wax it.
Put maintenance records in a nice presentation folder
Change the oil.
You should have no problem selling it but remember people buy with their eyes so make sure it's spotless


Good luck
+1
You are so right, People buy with their eyes.
Last house I sold,freshly painted,a few niceties around ,immaculate.
Sold to the first prospective buyer.
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

NoGambleNoFuture
Posts: 303
Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by NoGambleNoFuture » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:55 pm

Last year I sold my car as it started to trend downwards. I tried craigslist, auto trader, and other small classifieds. KBB was about $4.5k so I listed for $6k on Craigslist and auto trader to see if I could get any bites. I wasn't in a rush to get rid of it so I could adjust the price every other week or so.

A few weeks into the process I got an offer from someone off craigslist for $5k and had another person coming to check it out when I found Auto Hero (.com) locally in Austin. It seemed kinda scammish and I was pretty hesitant but took the car to them to evaluate and make an offer. On the spot they offered me over $5k but I told them I already had another offer for $6k :).

They run a bidding platform for dealers and took a few pics, uploaded them to the platform, and by an hour later were offering me $6.2k... Sold. Overall extremely easy, pleasant experience.

I'm not certain where all their offices are located, but a vendor like that is definitely looking into for a VERY low stress, low hassle, low haggle, quick transaction.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 18142
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by Watty » Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:18 pm

ryuns wrote:So I'm looking to sell a car with ~160,000 miles, a myriad of cosmetic issues, but zero problems and excellent mechanic condition. It's probably worth <$3000. No rust and the paint is in good condition, but otherwise looks pretty lousy. (Damage from a couple minor accidents has gone un-repaired.)
With the milage and the damage you will not get anywhere near $3,000 for it. You can check the price at edmunds.com

I would just clean it up and sell it as is, I would not even put new floor mats in it unless there are holes in the carpet.

With 160K miles and body damage the car is near the end of it usefull life.

surfstar
Posts: 1897
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:17 pm
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by surfstar » Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:44 pm

1) don't put money or time into it - wash it, take pics
2) it may fetch anywhere from $1500-3000 depending on the local market

jlawrence01
Posts: 1578
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:34 am
Location: Southern AZ

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by jlawrence01 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:09 am

The more you ask over $1500, the less likely you will find a cash buyer. The type of people who are looking for transportation - and don't care that the car looks like heck - generally can scrape up about $1,500 in cash. Go much over that and you will get a lot of gawkers and no takers.

This is the type of vehicle that will appeal more to the working poor than the younger crowd. Advertise this vehicle at places like laundromats and temp agencies.

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 7143
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by whodidntante » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:51 am

Deal with the buyer the way you would want to be treated. Clean the car up. It doesn't need to be "detailed" but fish out the french fries from the center console, LOL. Be upfront about the problems you know about, and try to agree on a fair price. If you can't, no deal. Good luck.

User avatar
Topic Author
ryuns
Posts: 3493
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:07 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by ryuns » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:23 am

Wow, thanks for all the advice. I don't think I've ever made a post that got answers with this kind of range. Perhaps I should have made a poll. Haha. I'll definitely check back in to tell you what I ultimately got for it. (FWIW, Bluebook is ~$2000, but Craigslist comps are ridiculously high--$2100 for a Civic with 235k miles, etc. Cars age well here and people love Civics. I'll probably start near $3k and accept a lot less. I'm a terrible bargainer. And lazy. My Craigslist transactions generally amount to me asking for some fair price and then taking literally the first offer.)
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 10823
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:29 am

Be careful with thinking that craigslist cars for sale are at sellable prices. The ones that have sold are no longer there. Look at some of the comp ads. How long have they been there. Craigslist sellers will literally keep an item on there for years at a price too high. Certainly start at $3000, but if you want it gone, reduce the price twice a week by $100-$200 at a time.

If you have not used craigslist much, some tips: I always say **Yes, it's still available** and I'll delete all the phishers who send a message "Is it still available?". Also **Include a phone number**. This again allows you to week out the mass messages from phishers.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

User avatar
queso
Posts: 763
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:52 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by queso » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:19 am

I sold a 99 Accord a couple of years ago with almost the same mileage. Posted to Craigslist for $3k and found a buyer right away. He was a really nice guy that knew a lot more than I did about Hondas and knew exactly what he was looking for in a dedicated commuter car. Met in a parking lot, talked for a while, took a test drive, walked away with cash. We did nothing to the car prior to sale other than clean it out ourselves.

Good luck!

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 4453
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by lthenderson » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:35 am

ryuns wrote:What do you think I should do/have done to the car prior to sale to maximize value but minimize cost?

Do I go get the interior detailed professionally? Exterior waxed? Or is DIY sufficient?

Do I change the battery? Mention that to the buyer? Don't say anything at all?

Keep the old generic floor mats in there? Buy temporary ones? No floor mats at all?

Anything else I should plan to disclose? Just give them the maintenance records and let them decide? I've been good about major scheduled maintenace (water pump and timing belt were changed on time, for instance), while some things, like brakes and shocks may be technically overdue, though both are totally functionally fine according to my mechanic.

I'll plan to get the oil changed and tires rotated for appearances sake.

Thanks in advance!
I would say definitely no to all your questions. With an older car like this, any money you put into it is just less money in your pocket after the sell. If someone asks or is concerned about maintenance, I would give them a copy of your records but since the records are easy to fake, many don't bother asking. All I would do is run it through a car wash or spray it off with a hose and call it good.

By the way, I have a 98 Honda Civic 2 door and I get cash offers to buy it 2 or 3 times a year, mostly from the young crowd who want to convert it into a tuner. 2-door honda civics are one of their cars of choice. Also note that after two weeks of sitting, mine will also start harder but I think that is just because the fuel is draining back towards the tank and has nothing to do with the battery. If is worries you, start your car the morning someone is coming to look at it and then allow time for the car to cool down completely before they show up. If I go to buy a used car that has been warmed up, I instantly suspect starting issues.

Ninegrams
Posts: 557
Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2014 6:12 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by Ninegrams » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:04 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:Be careful with thinking that craigslist cars for sale are at sellable prices. The ones that have sold are no longer there. Look at some of the comp ads. How long have they been there. Craigslist sellers will literally keep an item on there for years at a price too high. Certainly start at $3000, but if you want it gone, reduce the price twice a week by $100-$200 at a time.

If you have not used craigslist much, some tips: I always say **Yes, it's still available** and I'll delete all the phishers who send a message "Is it still available?". Also **Include a phone number**. This again allows you to week out the mass messages from phishers.

I do the opposite, I don't include a phone number and only consider those who reply back with one to be serious buyers.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22959
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by dm200 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:51 am

I would not put much money into the car. I would clean it up (but not spend money to 'detail'), clean the tires, perhaps put in new, inexpensive battery, change the oil -- and see what you can get. Maybe - depending on the circumstances - see that any big milestone maintenance is done on the car (as long as it was not much money).

I would also really emphasize that you are the ORIGINAL owner of the car. You want to communicate the reality or image that you are not selling the car because there is something wrong with it.

tim1999
Posts: 3637
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:16 am

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by tim1999 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:48 pm

I would DIY thoroughly clean it inside and out and change the engine oil. I'd probably put a cheap battery in it, because if someone seriously interested comes to test drive it and it does not start, that's not going to inspire a lot of confidence in the car. Batteries seem to like to die at inopportune times. Organize the maintenance records chronologically, put them on the front seat and mention to the prospective buyers that are there. I don't see a need to disclose anything else, since as you said, you are unaware of any mechanical problems.

I wouldn't worry about the floor mats. A real picky buyer will look under them anyway, and most buyers of a $3,000 car won't care whether they are new or not.

User avatar
Topic Author
ryuns
Posts: 3493
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:07 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by ryuns » Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:57 pm

Thanks again for all the advice.

dm200 wrote: I would also really emphasize that you are the ORIGINAL owner of the car.
I'm actually second owner, but I purchased it in 2006. So maybe I can proclaim that I've "owned the car nearly a third of my life!" Haha.
How long have they been there. Craigslist sellers will literally keep an item on there for years at a price too high. Certainly start at $3000, but if you want it gone, reduce the price twice a week by $100-$200 at a time.
Good advice. That sounds like a good approach. I definitely don't think I'll get what others are asking on CL, but probably a useful starting point. And, as I said, my patience for CL shoppers is limited. Not to sound too haughty, but generally, the people who are buying the near-worthless stuff that I end up hawking on CL (super old cars, outdated cell phones, furniture with cat scratches) seem to value their time a little less than me, so I suppose rewarding them for their work is not a bad thing.
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22959
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by dm200 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:00 pm

I wouldn't worry about the floor mats. A real picky buyer will look under them anyway, and most buyers of a $3,000 car won't care whether they are new or not
In fact, if you make sure these old floor mats are very clean looking, it would give the appearance of a well card for car.

User avatar
JaneyLH
Posts: 431
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:16 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by JaneyLH » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:34 pm

Regardless of what you do or don't do, there are two critical things you need to do to protect yourself:

1) Look on the Internet for a standard bill of sale that clearly states that the vehicle is being sold AS IS and have the buyer sign it. I once sold a car in running condition with new tires for $150 and found myself in small claims court losing $100 of the $150. The buyer took the car to a mechanic and came to court with a list of things the mechanic thought should be done to make the car "perfect".

2) Go to your DMV website and download the form that the buyer signs to acknowledge they are now responsible for registering the vehicle, and therefore for any parking tickets, etc. on the vehicle. Buyer in #1 above also eventually abandoned the car having never registered it and I also got all the notices. If not for the small claims court action, I would have been even deeper in! :annoyed

Assume the person who buys your car will be a scum of the earth deadbeat who will cause you all sorts of misery unless you protect yourself... and you should be OK!

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22959
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by dm200 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:05 pm

JaneyLH wrote:Regardless of what you do or don't do, there are two critical things you need to do to protect yourself:
1) Look on the Internet for a standard bill of sale that clearly states that the vehicle is being sold AS IS and have the buyer sign it. I once sold a car in running condition with new tires for $150 and found myself in small claims court losing $100 of the $150. The buyer took the car to a mechanic and came to court with a list of things the mechanic thought should be done to make the car "perfect".
2) Go to your DMV website and download the form that the buyer signs to acknowledge they are now responsible for registering the vehicle, and therefore for any parking tickets, etc. on the vehicle. Buyer in #1 above also eventually abandoned the car having never registered it and I also got all the notices. If not for the small claims court action, I would have been even deeper in! :annoyed
Assume the person who buys your car will be a scum of the earth deadbeat who will cause you all sorts of misery unless you protect yourself... and you should be OK!
The safest way to protect yourself on the ownership issue is to sell the vehicle to someone who can/will register the car in your same state. Meet the buyer at DMV and turn in your plates, etc. at the same time the buyer registers the car. Then, the buyer can drive off with new registration and plates that belong to the buyer. NEVER let the buyer (unless you know them personally and are trustworthy) drive the vehicle with your plates.

obgraham
Posts: 1233
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:30 pm

Re: Selling an older car--how much work to do?

Post by obgraham » Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:55 pm

NEVER let the buyer (unless you know them personally and are trustworthy) drive the vehicle with your plates.
Unless you are in a state where the plates go with the car. Like WA.
Simply notify the state DOT that you have sold it. In WA you do that online.

Post Reply