Want to sell your car for a profit? Be smart about it and wary of potential pitfalls

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Buying a new car
Buying a new car

The new vehicle market in SA has declined by 18%, but used vehicle searches are up 50%.

Use smart research, inspections and fixes, a good clean, thorough records and clever negotiation to get top dollar for your vehicle.

• Transparency is crucial and could build trust to make a good profit.

For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za


The used vehicle market is booming, both locally and abroad. According to Autotrader's bi-annual car industry report, while the new vehicle market in South Africa declined by 18% in January 2021 - versus the same month last year - the opposite appears to be happening in the used vehicle market. Online searches for used vehicles have grown by 50% over the same period. 

Those wanting to take advantage of this boom and sell their vehicle want 'top dollar' for it but, if not prepared, could fall short. Auto & General Insurance lists a few ways you can improve the chances of selling your vehicle and get the best price for it:

Step 1 - Research!

Take the time to research your vehicle and its market value to understand it's worth and to ensure you get the right price for it. A good place to start the research is online - search to see what other sellers ask for vehicles of the same make, model, age and mileage as yours. Then, whether you sell your vehicle privately, online or through a dealer, you'll know what price you can reasonably expect to get for it.  

Remember that dealers still need to make a profit from your vehicle, so their offers will typically be lower. If you are prepared to deal with prospective buyer enquiries and viewings, you could probably get a few thousand rands more.

new car,buying a car
Buying a new car

Step 2 - Order a mechanical and cosmetic inspection

If a potential buyer takes your vehicle for a test drive, the last thing you want it to have is smooth tyres, oil leaks, starting trouble or make strange noises. If your vehicle has any noticeable issues, take it to a licenced mechanic for a thorough inspection. Ask the mechanic to address any problems they encounter and keep a copy of the receipt.

If any small body panel defects, dents, and scratches can be fixed at a reasonable cost, make sure to have that done as well. Remember to perform the most critical, roadworthy relevant fixes first, and be careful not to overcapitalise.

Step 3 - Get your vehicle professionally cleaned 

A thorough cleaning of your vehicle's interior and exterior can go a long way. By getting your vehicle professionally cleaned, you'll increase its appeal to prospective buyers.

Step 4 - Keep records

You've had your vehicle mechanically inspected and professionally cleaned, but none of this will mean much if you don't have proof of it. Be sure to keep copies of receipts of all the work that's been done on your vehicle. Transparency not only builds trust between you and prospective buyers, but it can also increase your selling price. Also, keep records of your vehicle's service history and any insurance claims you've made.

Step 5 - Be willing to negotiate

Set a price for your vehicle that reflects its market value, and be prepared to negotiate with prospective buyers. Go into the negotiations knowing the minimum price you're willing to accept but intending to get the best price possible. If you're trading in your car at a dealership, don't accept their first offer, which is likely to be a low one. Make a counter-offer that is in or around your asking price. If the dealership's final offer isn't reasonable, go elsewhere.

It's also crucial to be completely transparent regarding defects or services on key components, especially when a defect could jeopardise a prospective buyer's safety. Patching up a potentially serious defect with the wheels, tyres, brakes, suspension and steering systems, for example, just to make the sale isn't ideal. Rather spend a few rands more to not only sell the vehicle with a clear conscience, but to build the kind of trust that'll get you a better price.

By investing a little time and money in preparing your car for sale, you'll improve the odds of a quick sale at a good price.

Ricardo Coetzee is the head of Auto & General Insurance.

new car,buying a car
Buying a new car
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