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Trustinglife's avatar

Any advice on selling a car?

Asked by Trustinglife (6603points) June 1st, 2009

I’m about to sell my car, I’ve never done this before, and I feel nervous about it. I would appreciate any advice you have, and I have specific questions below. The background:

The car is a ‘90 Camry with 234,000 miles. It still runs well, though, but has some problems (oil leak and muffler trouble, though it’s not loud). I just had it pass a smog test, which I learned is a requirement to sell a car in California. In the process, I replaced the spark plugs, distributor, and I had recently put in a new battery. It has other minor issues – hey, it’s an old car – but the bottom line is it’s solid and runs well.

Pricing… I’m hoping to get $1,000–1,500 for it. Does that sound reasonable, given the description above?

I’m probably going to start trying to sell it on Craigslist, and then look at cars.com and autotrader.com. Any other websites or suggestions for ways to attract interest from buyers?

Paperwork… once I have someone ready to buy the car from me, what forms do the buyer and I have to fill out to make it official? Do we go to the DMV together? How does that work? Would you accept a check from someone, or insist on cash or Paypal? Would you give them all the paperwork from past work on the car? Thanks for your help!

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12 Answers

Darwin's avatar

The last time I sold a car it was a non-running minivan for which I got $1500. The guy paid in cash and all I had to do to finalize things was sign the title, have my husband sign the title, and give it to the buyer. I then went to the DMV and filed a piece of paper with the state that said I sold the car, and I called my insurance agent to tell him to take it off my policy. However I am in Texas.

eHow says that in California in addition to doing any repairs and cleaning and obtaining a current passing smog test, you need to download a bill of sale from the DMV website, and fill out the “transfer/release of liability” form that is attached to the pink slip. When you find a buyer, the buyer also needs to fill out the “transfer/release of liability” form. Then you sign it and mail it to the DMV and tell your insurance agent that the car had been sold. You give the original bill of sale to the buyer.

eHow suggests that you transfer ownership in a public place, and that you accept only cash or a cashier’s check. If you are worried about counterfeit bills, then do the sale at your bank and have money deposited into your bank account. The bank should catch any counterfeits. A bank is also a good public place to fill out the paperwork and actually turn over the car.

I tend to give everyone the past paperwork, but you can offer it and just throw it out if the guy isn’t interested. Sometimes just the offer of the paperwork is enough to reassure the buyer that the car has been well-maintained.

YARNLADY's avatar

there is an excellent site which I found when I sold my car by typing “How to sell a car in California”. My advice is be sure to get the name and address of the person who buys it. The DMV will need this to relieve you of any responsibility for the car in the future. My buyer gave me the money, took the pink slip and left without giving me that information, and I had to petition the DMV to remove my name as owner.

tabbycat's avatar

I personally think you are being reasonable. Camrys just keep on going and going. It would be a great car for a student, or for someone who just wants to drive it around town and doesn’t go great distances.Of course, now isn’t the best time in the world to be selling anything, given the economy.

My 1999 Camry was totaled about a year ago. (A sixteen-year old student driver just ran into me!) It had about 100,000 miles on it, and was well maintained. The insurance company gave me $8,900 for it, which I thought was pretty good for a 9+ year old car. Without it, I never would have been able to get a decent replacement. It just convinced me that my loyalty to Toyota was justified. (I replaced it with a Prius.)

The California DMV should have all the right forms for you. Personally, I would insist upon cash unless you know and trust the person. Yes, I would give the prospective buyer all the relevant paperwork. It’s only fair. Good luck to you!

By the way, I love my Prius, but I’m sure I would have kept my Camry for another 5–10 years if it hadn’t been totaled.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Have you checked your local auto trader magazines or Kelly Blue Book to see if anyone else is getting that much money for a 1990? It seems high to me but you never know, look online at what other people are selling for. You might also look into donating the car to a charity org. that will come retrieve it and then write the donation off of your taxes.

Trustinglife's avatar

This is all very helpful. I’m now planning a trip to the DMV to pick up the necessary forms. One question I’d love to get feedback on from the excellent eHow article brought up (Thanks Darwin!!!)...

Do you think it’s important to meet in a public place? My car is parked on the street, and my neighborhood feels safe to me. Shouldn’t that work? I was expecting they would want to take the car for a test drive with me, anyway. Does that sound good to you?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Be prepared for some crank phone calls and some assholes who tell you they will be right over to look at it and never show up. An alternative might be to take it to the nearest Carmax and see what they’ll give you for it – or, you can donate to charity and take a tax deduction on it.

Darwin's avatar

@Trustinglife – The last time I bought a used car privately, we did it all at the bank even though I was buying it from a trusted friend. The reason why was because I knew I wanted the car and he knew he wanted the money so it was very, very easy to pay him for it. We also needed a notary to transfer his aftermarket warranty so the bank was a good idea.

You can still do a test drive at the bank if you want. Logistically it would be simpler if you have a second person there to either give you a ride home if the sale goes through or to follow you home if it doesn’t.

I have no idea what sort of neighborhood you live in or what neighborhoods potential buyers might live in. Probably most of your potential buyers will be perfectly nice people just looking for a car, but every now and then you get someone who is not on the up-and-up. Hence, a public place.

Depending on how many of your neighbors are actually outside and looking around on a given day your neighborhood might qualify as a public place. Or it might not. It is your call.

It may also depend on how impressive you are in person as to whether a nasty person decides to go for it or to blow it off, say the car isn’t what he wants, and leave.

miasmom's avatar

Because you are a guy I wouldn’t worry too much about the meeting place. In the past my hubby has went with them while they test drive and he’s let them go alone, it’s up to you in what you feel best about.

Trustinglife's avatar

Wow – I wouldn’t consider letting a stranger test drive my car alone. (“Hm, let me just test drive this thing all the way home!!!”) I really appreciate all the feedback and tips, everyone.

miasmom's avatar

Well, usually they drive their current car to see you and they usually aren’t driving two cars at the same time, so they have to come back to get their car… :)

Trustinglife's avatar

Good point! Hadn’t thought of that.

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