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Tips for selling your car or truck
(plus the scoop from an ex-curbstoner)

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Tip #1: Spruce It Up

Have your vehicle professionally detailed – or spend an afternoon and do it yourself – inside and out. Then, as long as there’s a “for sale” sign on it, keep it clean and neat.

Black hat scoop from an ex-curbstoner:

“We’d degrease the engine and dress the hoses so the whole engine bay looked super-clean and tight. We’d dress the tires too. It’s amazing how well those protectant sprays revive rubber.”

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Tip #2: Fix It Up

Most professional dealers have the vehicles they sell serviced, or at least inspected for any major problems. Take a page from them: a quick safety and mechanical check-up will give you peace of mind.

Black hat scoop from an ex-curbstoner:

“Sometimes, we’d slap on a quick oil change and clean the spark plugs. That way, the car’d run great on the test drive, and it’d usually pass a smog test.”

Also, go ahead and make any minor repairs. You might not think a little thing like a lost cigarette lighter or a burned-out interior light is a big deal, but those details make a difference in the way your vehicle is perceived. You don’t want a potential buyer worried about what else might be wrong.

Black hat scoop from an ex-curbstoner:

“We used a light coat of paint to touch up sun-faded black vinyl. Then we’d hit it with one of those vinyl protectants. It’d make the dashboard look like the car’d been garaged all its life! We didn’t try to match other colors, though – it was too hard.”

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Tip #3: Get Attention

You want people to know your car is for sale. Put on the biggest, brightest signs you can find without breaking local rules about signage on cars. For instance, some homeowner’s associations forbid on-vehicle signage, and some municipalities’ anti-curbstoning laws place limits on sign size and where your vehicle can be parked if it has a sign. In addition, states have rules that have to do with safety – like being able to see out the windows.

Inside tip from an ex-curbstoner:

“We’d use white shoe polish to paint ‘FOR SALE,’ and then a phone number, really big and neatly on the rear window. On the driver’s side back window we’d put a sign with “FOR SALE” and the phone number as big as we could. On the passenger side rear window, we’d put a neatly printed “For Sale” sign with more details, including year, make, model, mileage, and desirable features – and, of course, a phone number. We rarely had to advertise our cars. In a high-traffic area, we’d flip them in a couple days, just off the signs.”

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Tip #4: Get The Word Out

Free classifieds and publications like Auto Trader are great ways to advertise your vehicle. If photos are permitted, they can really show off your car or truck. Most vehicles look best with a ¾ view, shot eye-level to the window line or slightly above. If you can, take the photos in the morning or early evening, and turn the lights on for effect. Make sure the background is relatively uncluttered. If multiple photos are allowed, show the interior and engine compartment.

Inside tip from an ex-curbstoner:

“Whether the mileage on a particular vehicle was high or low, we found that a photo of the odometer seemed more believable than only listing the mileage in the ad text.”

Flyers on local community bulletin boards also can be great ways to drum up phone calls.

If you run an ad, though, make sure you’re around to answer the phone – very often, callers won’t leave messages.

Scam Alert: If you use an online classified ad, be prepared to receive offers in which someone wants to give you a certified check or money order for more than your sale price (ostensibly to cover “shipping,” “duties,” or “finder’s fees”), which you’re supposed to partially refund. This is a well-known scam. A few days later the check will turn out to be phony and the full amount – plus the money you “refunded” – will be debited from your bank account.

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Tip #5: Gather Documentation

To sell your car or truck, you’ll need the registration and title. Can’t find the title? You may have filed it in a safe or safe deposit box. Also, if your car was financed, the bank may still be holding the title. Track down those documents before you need them, because getting a duplicate registration or title takes time.

Put documents related to vehicle maintenance, repairs, or upgrades in a folder to show prospective buyers. Make sure there are no credit card or personal identification numbers on any receipts. Also, if you write off part of your vehicle expenses on your taxes, you may need to make copies for your records.

Ordering a vehicle history report is easy and affordable. It shows mileage and ownership history, any reported accidents, major repairs, and recalls. More than that, it offers peace of mind to prospective buyers.

Black hat scoop from an ex-curbstoner:

“We used to get ‘independent vehicle safety inspections’ done by a mechanic we knew. They didn’t mean much, but when they were printed up on a computer they sure looked official. As a buyer, I wouldn’t totally trust a report provided by the seller.”

Do not sign and turn over the title until you have the buyer’s money in hand. At that time, you’ll also want to make out a bill of sale, noting that the sale is “as is.” You’ll also need to file a notice of ownership transfer and release of liability to the appropriate state agency and your auto insurance company.

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Tip #6: Make a Clean Break

Clear your personal records from the glove box and other storage compartments. Also, check under the seats and floor mats for any stray credit card receipts.

If you have a “secret” stash in your car, perhaps some emergency cash or a house key tucked away, remember to dig it out.

Inside tip from an ex-curbstoner:

“Every time we got a vehicle to sell, we’d go through it looking for ‘extras.’ It was like an Easter egg hunt! The most common hiding places were in the spare tire compartment or cover, jack compartment, fuse box, ashtray, seat pockets, under the bumpers, under seat covers or folding seat cushions, under floor mats, under the dashboard or center console, and inside any in-car tool kit or first aid kit.”

Finally, clear all your personal information from any computerized navigation or in-car data system. You don’t want to give a stranger all your phone contacts or directions to your bank.

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There are two very important distinctions between curbstoners and you, acting as a private party seller.

First, your car is legally registered in your name. Most curbstoners don't bother to register the cars they sell. Instead, they quickly flip their vehicle purchases so the title transfers from the previous owner to the new owner, skipping the curbstoner.

Second, you probably have only one or two cars to sell. A typical curbstoner, being an unlicensed dealer, sells several cars a month, every month, all year long.

Curbstoners pretend to be private parties, but they're not. They're unlicensed businesses, making a profit with no accountability, regulation, or recourse for their customers.

Can You Detect Collision Damage?

stop-curbstoning-collision-field-guide

Uncover the tell-tale signs of collision damage with this free field guide from Stop Curbstoning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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