Selling a Used Car Honestly

You have decided to sell your car and, as you prepare it to go, you must decide how much information you are going to divulge when discussing the vehicle with prospective buyers. This dialog can make or break the sale.

Gain the Trust of the Buyer

Honesty is the best policy. A potential buyer can utilize resources such as getting a car history report or having it inspected by a certified mechanic. You don’t have to reveal every flaw, too much honesty could kill the deal. However, if the buyer asks, tell the truth.

If the car a much older model, the prospective buyer will expect flaws. Go ahead and say that you recently replaced the radiator or that the air conditioning is not operating well. If the vehicle is old, the buyer is clearly in the market for a beater and is content with some mechanical deficiencies.

Know What You're Going to Say

Have an honest answer prepared ahead of time for “Why are you selling it?” In your response be sure to favor the positive over the negative. Saying, “I’m looking to upgrade” or “I’m wanting a larger (or a smaller) vehicle” is more advantageous than “This car keeps my roadside assistance guy employed.”

What if the vehicle you are selling does have potential mechanical problems, and they start to surface after the sale? Unlike dealerships that have to contend with lemon laws, you are not obligated by law to provide compensation for the buyer's expense and inconvenience. Once the car’s title is out of your hands, your responsibility ends. The buyer, however, can make your life complicated by disparaging your name publicly through social media outlets or calling repeatedly asking for money. As this is the case, you should sell the car with an appropriate amount of disclosure.

Information You MUST Disclose When Selling a Vehicle

In most states sellers must, by law, reveal whether the vehicle has been salvaged, rebuilt or damaged in a flood. The title of the vehicle identifies that the car has been salvaged or rebuilt. This, at a minimum, protects you from any potential legal entanglements from the buyer brought on by the concealment of damage information.