Car Care: Clean up your act if you want good sale

By Jack Biddle

If you want a good price for your car, keep it well-maintained.
If you want a good price for your car, keep it well-maintained.

Selling your car privately doesn't have to be a hassle A vehicle's worth is usually considerably less than most owners believe initially and, at the end of the day, is simply what somebody else is prepared to pay.

Setting the asking price, if selling privately, should always be done with an open mind, leaving room for negotiation with a potential buyer.

How many times have we heard of somebody turning down the first offer to sell at a slightly reduced price only to find they still own their vehicle several months later?

Trading the car in with a licensed trader can certainly be less stressful and less time consuming, but sellers often have to be prepared to take a significant drop in their asking price to allow for reconditioning costs and profit margins from the dealer.

If you're desperate to sell, then obviously the asking price should be set at the lower end of the scale to encourage instant attraction while those with a little more time on their hands or less pressure to sell can sometimes set their sights a little higher.

A particular brand or model reputation as regards reliability, fuel economy and value for money can also influence the asking price in either a positive or negative way. So what can you do apart from setting a realistic price to help sell your set of wheels? Preparation and presentation will always go a long way to help move a vehicle on quickly.

If you are prepared to put in a little bit of effort and present a vehicle for sale clean inside and out and without obvious panel damage, you are giving yourself every chance it will attract a second look from potential buyers.

Having said that, it is sometimes better to leave a small dent or bruise in the body work rather than show evidence of a recent repair. Buyers can sometimes think the worst and can convince themselves the repair is temporary or covering up significantly more damage.

Being upfront and pointing out the damage can often go a long way to instilling trust in a buyer.

If the vehicle has been regularly serviced over a long period and you have kept receipts, then don't be afraid to beat your chest about being a caring owner.

Evidence of work done such as cambelt replacement, cooling system flush, regular oil and filter changes, plus tyre or brake work, should be promoted as items that any new owner need not worry about for some time.

If, however, the vehicle is due for a long list of routine maintenance work and a buyer wants to negotiate the price to help cover those costs, then you have to be a lot more realistic in both setting the initial asking price and what you are ultimately prepared to accept.

While you cannot deliberately misrepresent a vehicle at time of sale, it is the responsibility of any potential buyer to do the correct checks and ask the right questions.

Your job as the seller is to answer any questions as truthfully as you can.

You may be surprised how positively a "look honestly I don't know" answer is accepted.

Buyers also like to feel they are getting a good deal in terms of price and past ownership, so if there is a genuine reason to sell (baby on the way so need a larger vehicle or job promotion comes with a company vehicle, etc) then once again, don't keep it to yourself.

Legally a vehicle cannot be sold without a Warrant of Fitness less than one month old unless the potential buyer agrees otherwise, but if you have nothing to hide, be proactive and say a new WoF will be obtained as a condition of sale and any required work will be taken care of.

It all helps to make the buyer feel they are doing the right thing and getting a good deal. It can also help you in the price negotiations and potentially allow you to hold out for more than is initially being offered.

Most owners see selling vehicles as a painful and frustrating experience.

But if you want the best price you have to be prepared to put in a few hard yards to make your vehicle stand out from the crowd.

And if you have recently purchased, then keep any future receipts for service and repairs in a safe place.

It just might help make the selling experience a little easier and financially better when it comes time to sell.

- NZ Herald

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