When I decided to sell my car, I was pretty confident that I was making the right decision. That I had done plenty of research (both online and through friendly conversation), and that I was ready to take the leap. I had blue booked my car’s value and even figured out how I was going to make some money off of it. And while I did the best I could, there were some things I didn’t know and mistakes I made along the way. Here are a few things that I learned along the way.
Take your car to your mechanic for a checkup. I’m not a mechanic and I have a feeling that, if you’re reading this, neither are you. I know that I’m supposed to change my oil every 3,000 miles and I know that if my car makes a squealing sound when I break, it’s probably time to change the brake pads, and… that’s about it. So when I went to sell my car and people asked me about its history, the last time I had work done on it, when the belts had been changed and a whole slew of other questions, I had no idea what they were talking about, let alone asking. I should have gone to my mechanic and asked for a diagnostic, a history and some explanations. It would have equipped me to answer questions.
Know your options. I thought that if I wanted to make money on my car, I had to park it in front of my house with a “FOR SALE” sign in the window and wait for the phone to start ringing. This isn’t true. There are a number of different options. I had no idea that I could call my local “junk vehicle” lot and they would quote me a cash amount to come pick up my car. This may not be the most profitable option for everyone but if the car is old and the value is low, it may be your best bet. I also didn’t know about the dangers of posting cars online. There are scam artists just waiting to swindle. Selling my car to a private buyer took time and lots of knowledge. In retrospect, it may have been worth it to consider an alternate route.
Make sure the decision to sell your car is not an impulse. In every financial planning class you take, they tell you that the two most necessary expenses are transportation and housing. Being without a car is challenging if you live in a rural area or work far from your home. When I decided to sell my car, I had a plan in place. I was moving to a big city and didn’t need my own personal vehicle. But I wasn’t prepared for the adjustment it would be. Cash is great, but make sure you think through all the different possibilities before taking the plunge.
I felt like a better rounded adult after following through with the decision to sell my car. But it wasn’t the breeze I thought it would be. Take plenty of time to do the research, ask for help if you need it and learn from the ride as you go.