Tips and advice for first time selling a used car?
November 7, 2012 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Tips and advice for first time selling a used car? I am trying to figure out if I should fix up some cosmetic damage before selling my 2005 Honda Civic EX, as well as looking for general advice on selling on the private market.

Last winter I figured out how to buy a used car. After a year in L.A., it's time to sell it. I've got a decent 2005 Honda Civic Ex, about 85K miles on it. I bought it for $8.8K cash, and am hoping to sell it for maybe $6.5K or so. (Blue Book puts it at $9,216 in Good condition).

So! Here are my questions:

1) There is a crack in rear bumper that was there when I bought it, and after a year of street parking, there's some small dings in both front and rear bumper. Is it worth attempting to replace these things myself and get a higher price? Or offer for lower price and let the next seller deal with it? I realize this is a somewhat complicated issue, but is there a general rule of thumb (i.e. don't sink more than X amount in, or a dinged up bumper reduces price by Y amount).

2) CL vs. CarMax vs. AutoTrader vs. eBay. I know from experience that Honda Civics are pretty popular, and the car still runs very well. With that in mind, which place is the best for putting up a 8-year-old car? Or, what are the pros and cons of the services

3) Helpful resources? I've read through a lot of the old Ask Meta conversations here, and read through Edmonds and so on. But if there's something out there that's particularly helpful for a clueless sumbitch like myself, would be happy to see it.

Thanks, know this is a question that comes up on a semi-regular basis. Looking forward to being carless and careless again in near future.
posted by Peemster to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Craigslist will get your car sold in like three days. ESPECIALLY your car in particular, which should be a perfect teenager or project car.

The rear bumper is an issue. It would likely cost about $500-800 to fix. (My probably-overpriced body shop did this very replacement on my old Civic many years ago.) The project guys will be all over this one, because it'll probably cost way less for them to just buy a bumper online and pop it on.

Seriously, don't even think about it. Put it on Craigslist, note the crack in the bumper, figure out what you'll be okay with, and get that thing out of your driveway already. It will take you under a week at most, if not a few hours.
posted by Madamina at 3:36 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I sold a car on ebay and got more than I thought I would. (Five years ago, perhaps things have changed.) I liked it because it eliminated haggling. That is a game I do not like playing. (Mostly because so many people LOVE playing that game.)

What I did was be completely honest and forthcoming about any flaw I knew about. Tell the car's story as you know it. "Hey, I bought this a year ago, here is the maintenance I did on it, this is why I'm selling it, it wouldn't start one time and I replaced the battery and it has been fine ever since." Etc.

Don't sell to Carmax unless time or convenience is an issue. They buy for wholesale prices, where you can sell for private-party prices on ebay or craigslist. For reference, the car I sold on ebay went for something like $2200. Carmax offered $750.
posted by gjc at 3:42 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't bother with the bumper, put it on craigslist and mention its got a few minor body flaws, include pictures. List it for $7k OBO and someone will give you $6.5 within a week I bet.
posted by mannequito at 4:18 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

My only suggestion is to provide the CarFax report up front. My fiance sold his car (2000 Jetta) using Craigslist in less than a week.
posted by radioamy at 5:08 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Good advice here. I'd add the hassle factor -- how much can you bear? Even with CL you've got to make some arrangements to meet, maybe 3 or 4 times. But if you're home anyway, say on the weekend, you can drive the arrangements.

A year or 2 ago I got a paint job on a Toyota Camry, put it on AutoTrader w pics and some marketing copy, got one visitor -- and cleared $3k more than dealers offered. But I was working from home, had another car, didn't need the cash quickly .. and probably had too much time on my hands.

Last month I sold a Tundra to CarMax for about $1.5k less than I might have gotten on the market. The hassle factor was important: I'm working longish hours, making goodish money, and I didn't want to devote more than an hour on a Sunday afternoon. Which I did.

Good luck! Selling a used car on the market can be satisfying. Used to live next to a 'curbstone dealer' in Detroit who made his living doing that.
posted by LonnieK at 5:44 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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