Selling a car online

There are a number of different ways to sell your car over the Internet but the most popular way by far are online classifieds.

Online classifieds work in a similar way to the classified advertising you see in your local newspaper. Sellers place ads, hoping to attract potential buyers, who then arrange to view and, hopefully, purchase the vehicle.

Online classifieds do have one major advantage over paper classifieds, that being the number of potential buyers you can attract. Your customer base is almost endless, limited only by the number of Internet users willing to view your advertisement, rather than the number of people who read your local paper.

Online classifieds are generally very flexible with most providers offering a choice of different types of ads. Some may even offer a free, basic advertisement with no frills and most give the option of a premium ad listing, including photos, priority in searches and a more visual ad.

You can choose to advertise your car just in your local area by selecting a local classified site. Alternatively you could decide to advertise state or country-wide, attracting hundreds or even thousands of potential buyers.

How do I do it?

First, decide which site or sites you wish to advertise on and what kind of ad you want. You must have a very good idea of how much your car is worth before placing your ad so make sure you do your research first. Be realistic. Overpricing is the most common reason for failed classified ads.

If your ad allows photos take your time and make the car as presentable as possible before taking them. Tidy up any areas around the car that will be seen in the photo too. First impressions count. Use a variety of different photos showing as many of the car’s positive features and selling points as you can.

When writing your ad, mention as many features as you can in the space allotted to you. Prioritise the features as well. You might love the fact that your car is red but most sellers will be more interested in the engine size, fuel consumption or whether it's four-wheel drive or not.

Be specific with your terminology and avoid pointless phrases such as “great car”. Be sure to include a couple of different types of contact information. If people can’t reach you, you might miss the sale. An email address and phone number should be standard.

Above all, be honest. Liars get caught out.

Will I get a good price?

In general, purchasers expect to pay less for a privately advertised car than they do for a car sold through a dealership. You can also expect people to offer less than your advertised price.

However, if you're considering trading-in your old car at a dealership as part payment for a new model, bear in mind that you will generally not get as good a price as you will if you go through the process of selling it yourself. Dealerships are in the business of making money and they also need to on-sell your old car after taking it off your hands. Car dealers will never offer a trade-in which is equivalent to the actual value of the car.

How do I do it?

Online classifieds are very straight forward. You will need to provide your personal contact information such as name, address, telephone numbers and email address, in addition to information about your car such as type of vehicle, kilometres, number of seats and selling price. If you have to pay for the ad you will, of course, need to provide a credit card number or arrange another payment method.

By law you must provide a registration number for your car when placing your ad. If your car is unregistered then you will be asked for the engine number instead. You will also be requested to provide the registration expiry date, if applicable, and to say whether or not you have a roadworthy certificate.

Some sites will run your ad indefinitely until you remove it yourself. Others will run it for a set period of time. To find out which make sure you're aware of the fine print. That way you can get worthwhile value for your advertising dollar.

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