Get the Best Price on the Sale of Your Car or Truck


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The glut of used cars on the market doesn't mean you can't get top dollar for yours. Here's what you need to know.

The number of used cars on the market has surged in recent months, as we anticipated in our report in the spring. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good price from your used car.

In fact, a recent report by Edmunds showed that despite a growth in inventory, the average price for used vehicles sold in retail setting was at a historic high for the first quarter of the year. That reflects a demand for vehicles that are three years old or less, and greater demand for trucks and SUVs because gas prices remain low.

Related: The 10 cardinal rules for buying classic cars

Regardless of the vehicle you are trying to sell, to fully capitalize on the market means knowing some tricks. Auto dealers and other insiders suggest these steps to improve your chances for getting top dollar for your used car or truck:

Go to CarMax

Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

The used-car dealer, founded in 1993, is now the biggest in the country. In its bid to redefine the industry, one of the things CarMax does is provide a free appraisal — and an offer — within 30 minutes. (For buyers, they offer a haggle-free price.) If there’s one near you — check out locations here — you can receive a no-obligation estimate on your vehicle and it may well beat any other offers.

The company has the full attention of the auto sales industry. Burton Hughes, general manager of Subaru of Las Vegas, recommended that his son visit CarMax before asking his dealership for an estimate.

“When people bring that price to me … we will be able to tell if we can match it,” he said. “CarMax may well offer the better price because of their ability to move the cars around the country.” So while a Ford F-150 truck may not be in demand in New York City, a CarMax dealer may offer top dollar because it can be moved to Texas or another area where trucks are in demand.

Don’t skimp on due diligence

 zeljkodan / Shutterstock.com zeljkodan / Shutterstock.com

Take your vehicle to a qualified technician for a safety check, advise experts at Driving. Even if you plan to sell your car at a dealership or other retail company, understanding what work needs to be done will help you better negotiate a selling price, especially if you get an estimate on needed repairs or maintenance.

Keep it clean

Professional foto / Shutterstock.comProfessional foto / Shutterstock.com

Whether you have the car professionally detailed or clean it yourself, make sure it’s spic and span inside and out, advise Driving experts. Otherwise, expect potential buyers to wonder if the lack of cleaning translates into lack of maintenance.

Know the crucial times in your car’s life

AleksejLysenko / Shutterstock.comAleksejLysenko / Shutterstock.com

The ages 16, 21 and 40 are major milestones in most people’s lives. Cars first hit a milestone at 36,000 miles or three years, notes Edmunds.com. That’s generally when bumper-to-bumper warranties expire and high-price parts, such as brakes, need replacement. Other milestones are 60,000 miles (when even more-expensive items, including as timing belts, may need replacing). The next major odometer reading is 100,000 miles. Vehicles that hit that mark may still be completely safe and operable, but most dealers won’t pay much for them. They will generally send them straight to auction.

Do your online research

 jocic / Shutterstock.com jocic / Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re researching your car’s value or planning to sell it online, Popular Mechanics recommends you consider these tips for certain sites:

EBay Motors Look at what sold and the prices. That way you’ll know if your car is in demand.

TrueCarYou’ll find actual transaction prices but also alert dealers that you’re interested in selling. Expect some calls.

Cars.com: You’ll find the highest and lowest prices nationally.

Beepi ­: Want a quick sale? Beepi will conduct a 240-point inspection. If your vehicle passes, Beepi will list and sell it within 30 days or buy the car from you.

Do you have additional tips on selling vehicles? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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