7 Ways to Get More For Selling Your Car

Selling your car is one thing. Learning how to get more for selling your car is another challenge altogether. Netting the most money for selling your car means being smart about how you plan before selling and taking steps to boost your earnings potential. With over 350,000 new and used vehicles sold in SA each year1, the car market has never been busier. But that also means more competition, more price risks, and more things to think about.
Selling a car can be tough. Aside from the emotions that come with letting go of your ride, ensuring you receive a fair price for it can be difficult, especially if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Gone are the days when your uncle was happy to take your car off your hands for you. With more and more vehicles on the roads and more options for people to choose from, finding a worthy buyer with cash ready to go isn’t easy. 

We explore some important pointers for selling your car and increasing your car’s value. From figuring out which selling option will be best for you to avoiding the things that can lower your vehicle’s value, here are seven ways to sell your vehicle and make more for your car in the process.

Where you can sell your car for a good return

There is more than one way to sell your car. Depending on how much effort you’re prepared to put into the process, how quickly you want to sell it and how much you hope to make, you can choose from one of three basic options to sell your car in South Africa. 
The Private Sale
Selling your car privately means handling everything, from advertising to finding a buyer and negotiating a price. Many people choose to sell their cars privately because they want to control the process and feel that they can earn more for selling a car directly. 

  • Pros of selling privately
    • You set the price and can earn more for selling a car
    • No sales commissions or fees to pay
    • You control negotiations
  • Cons of selling privately
    • You must handle everything yourself
    • It can take time to find a buyer
    • Can be risky and leave you exposed

As a trade-in option
Trading in a car means “selling” your vehicle to a dealer, and instead of paying you cash, they use the money as a settlement on the vehicle, if it is still under finance, or as a deposit toward buying another car from the dealer. Trade-ins are popular for people looking for a quick and easy process to sell their car. 

  • Advantages of trading-in
    • Fastest way to sell your car and higher likelihood to sell it.
    • You will secure a replacement vehicle immediately.
    • Secure and safe process.
  • Disadvantages of trading-in
    • The fixed trade-in price will likely be lower than the vehicle’s retail value.
    • You don’t get to enjoy any cash-in-hand.
    • May be limited inventory unless the dealer has a wide range of quality vehicles.

Selling your car to a dealer
Dealerships are always willing to buy second-hand cars. They will often approach people advertising privately to see if they can talk them into selling. Dealerships range from small, independent businesses to franchises that span the country. 

  • Benefits of using a dealer
    • Very likely you will be able to find a willing dealer to buy your car.
    • Dealers take care of all the paperwork for you.
    • You get paid for your car in cash on the spot.
  • Drawbacks of using a dealer
    • You will likely receive a lower price for your car than selling privately or trading it in.
    • Dealers won’t agree to pay extra for any repairs or services done on the vehicle.
    • Some dealers can trick or strong-arm you into selling.

7 Ways for how to get more for selling your car

Whether you choose to trade your car in, sell it privately or to a dealer, your ultimate goal must be to get the most for it. We’ve picked some of the most popular methods and tips that work in increasing your car’s value for selling it.

  1. Be realistic about its value and set a price with negotiation wiggle room
    Setting the price for your car before selling it can be difficult. Set it too high, and you’ll scare off potential buyers. Too low, and people will take advantage of you, leaving you with less money than you deserve. So what should you do for how to get more for selling your car while keeping the price fair at the same time? Setting a fair price for your car and then sticking to it is probably the most important step in getting the most for selling your vehicle. Here’s how to make sure your price accurately reflects the value of the car you’re selling. 
    • Get it valuedGetting your car valued will help you determine what the ideal price range for it will be. Consider getting multiple appraisals and try to be as accurate as possible.
    • Be firm with your price - Don’t back down on your minimum acceptable price. While negotiating over price is likely, if nobody is prepared to make a fair offer, wait for someone who is willing to pay to come along. 
    • Add a little extra onto the top price for negotiations – Adding 5% to 10% on top of your asking price will give you some leverage when negotiating, not to mention covering the investment you’ve made in getting your car ready to sell.
  2. Get it serviced right before selling
    A serviced vehicle means that it has been checked and approved and is OK to take onto the road. Services cost money, but they’re an important basic requirement for many buyers and a dependable way to earn more for selling a car. Remember to leave your service until you’re ready to sell and to use a reputable local service centre. Here are some pointers for using a vehicle service to maximise your car’s value. 
    • Service history – Keep a service record of every service your car has received. This important history tells buyers how well your car has been taken care of and proves that it is up to service spec. If you don’t have a service history, ensure the latest service is listed. 
    • Think about replacing the big parts – Replacing big-ticket items on your car should only be done if necessary. Doing so may cost a lot, but you can spin it to remind buyers of that part being brand new. 
    • Fill up, top off and replace smaller items – Things that wear out or run low quickly, like oil, aircon gas or brake pads, aren’t too pricey and can be replaced to boost your car’s value. Even if not 100% necessary, doing so will speed up the process and increase the chances of selling your car faster. 
  3. Get all your paperwork in order
    Having the correct documentation and paperwork when selling your car won’t just help you to make more for your car; it’s also a legal requirement. If you can prove that you have everything in order, you have more leverage for how to get more for selling your car. This list of necessary documents should help you spot anything you still need. 
    • Ownership Documents – Get the existing documents that prove you’re the vehicle’s owner together. These include your certificate of ownership, a copy of your ID, a settlement letter (if you haven’t paid the car off yet), and a proof of sale between you and the last owner. 
    • Registration Documents – These registration documents relate to changing the ownership details. They include a completed change of ownership form, an application for the new owner to register the vehicle in their name, a copy of the current registration certificate, a roadworthy certificate, and any relevant Natis documentation. 
    • Clear any fines or claims – Check at the local traffic department or police station to see if there are any outstanding fines or summonses in your car’s name. Pay any penalties and make sure your vehicle is legal to take onto the road. 
  4. Timing is important
    Unless your plan is to get rid of your car as quickly as possible, timing matters when selling if you’re trying to earn more for selling a car. Waiting for the right moment to sell your car can require patience, but it’s worth it in the long run if you want to get the most for your car. These tips on timing your vehicle sale are great indicators of when to do it.  
    • Demand – Look at the vehicle market right now. Which car makes and models are in high demand and is yours on the list? Getting a better understanding of the current demand for your car will help you pick the right time to sell it for maximum profit. Higher demand always means increasing your car’s value and sale price.
    • Interest rates – Waiting for favourable economic conditions to come around before selling your car can take a while. But if you can stand by until interest rates are coming down, it’s likely people will be willing to pay more for it before they go back up again. 
    • Time of the year – Standing by until Christmas, a new financial quarter, or the beginning of a month is a good method for how to get more for selling your car. People with fresh, unspent salaries in the bank or who have just received a juicy SARS tax return are more likely to commit to buying sooner rather than later.  
  5. Think about your ideal buyer and find a way to talk to them
    Understanding your ideal customer or vehicle’s target market is a powerful way to ensure that you can let them know that you’re selling your car. It’s also an effective method for figuring out what they’re looking for and then highlighting the features of your car they’ll be most attracted to, leaving you with a golden opportunity to make more for your car. Think about how you’ll reach your buyers by taking these steps.
    • Identify the ideal customer – Take some time to make a list of the characteristics of who you think your perfect buyer is. A typical buyer looking for a 2019 BMW 320i is going to be different from someone in need of a 2017 Nissan X Trail. Knowing your ideal customer means you can invest more time and effort in reaching them, boosting your earning potential. 
    • Do some marketing – Find the salesperson in you, and you’ll likely earn more for selling a car. Jazzing up your car’s appeal by being descriptive, telling your car’s story and making it sound more attractive to buyers is a surefire way to net more cash for it.
    • Engage with your potential buyer – Offer people the opportunity to test drive your car, be willing to negotiate and talk to interested parties. By going the extra mile and engaging with potential buyers, you may just convince them to pay that little bit extra for your ride. 
  6. Invest a little in your car before selling it
    Spending a little time, effort and - yes – money on your car before selling it is arguably the biggest price driver. While it may not seem logical to spend money when you’re trying to figure out how to get more for selling your car, doing so will definitely help you to justify a higher price. Investing in these things now can mean a bigger return once you’ve sold your car. 
    • Refurbish – Refurbishing your car means touching it up and giving it a revamp that makes it look newer, fresher and in better condition. A car that’s had a little extra TLC invested into it tells the buyer they’re getting a good deal. Check out this article on how to refurbish your car before selling it.
    • Replace the tyres – Replacing your tyres before selling your car is possibly your biggest pre-sale expense, but it’s a great way to drive up your profit. Aside from being a powerful selling point, you can simply add a nice little markup onto what you paid for these new tyres.
    • DetailingDetailing is an increasingly popular method for bringing cars back to life, especially if you’re selling a luxury or high-value model. Detailing involves taking your car for professional deep cleaning and restoring it to take the vehicle to an almost new condition. It's a great alternative to refurbishing if you can afford to do it. 
  7. Try not to customise anything
    Personalisation like custom paint jobs, spoilers and racing kits are a car sales killer for anyone looking to earn more for selling a car. While you may think those racing stripes look cool, adding them will only shrink your potential buyer market to a fraction of what it could be. Here are some pointers to help you manage any customisation choices for your car. 
    • Avoid unnecessary customisations – While it may be tempting to add that bumper kit, or to swap your steering wheel out for a Mad Max replica, don’t. Unless you plan on keeping your car forever, just avoid any customisations that don’t improve performance or are endorsed by the manufacturer, or you won’t get the top dollar you deserve. 
    • Remove any customisations before selling – Take off that spoiler, replace the halogen bulbs with standard ones and peel off any stickers if you’re looking at increasing your car’s value. If your car came with added customisations when you bought it, think about removing them before selling. Nobody will spend their hard-earned money on a souped-up hot rod they didn’t design themselves. 
    • Disclose previous customisations – If your car once had customisations that have been removed and you still have them somewhere, let the buyer know about them. After all, they may still want them and could even be willing to pay more to get them. 

Conclusion – Getting more for your car

So there you have it. Seven ways for how to get more for selling your car. While nothing is better at increasing your car’s value more than regular services, low mileage and high demand, following these easy steps in the leadup to selling your car will help add to the bottom line. Choose the method of selling your car that works for you. Try to balance the time it’ll take to sell with your earning expectations, and be prepared to do a little work if you want to earn more for selling a car.

Then, once you’ve got a pretty penny in hand, start looking for a new vehicle that represents a step up from the one you’ve just sold. You can start right here, browsing a wide selection of quality used vehicles that have been serviced, checked and are ready to meet your expectations.