It takes time to sell a used vehicle privately and some cases require more than others. If your car still hasn’t sold after what seems like a long time, try not to panic.
In the event that your car still hasn’t sold after being on the market for a while, it’s likely time to reconsider a few things. Make sure you’ve priced it correctly and you’ve done everything you can to advertise it properly. If you believe you’ve done everything right, then stay the course.
It’s important not to give up too easily. You might just need to make a few changes or it might just require more time. You need to figure out where in the sales process you’re going wrong – if you aren’t getting any interest at all, there might be an issue with your listing or your price. If people are coming to see it but are losing interest, that’s more than likely an issue with the car itself.
Narrowing this down is a great place to start. Here’s what to do if your vehicle hasn’t sold after a while:
Listen to feedback from potential buyers
If you’ve had your car for sale for a while, hopefully, you’ve at least had some people interested enough to take a look at it. If not, that indicates that you have an issue with the way you’ve listed it for sale. In that case, make sure to go back and read this article about advertising your used car.
What did people have to say about your car? Most will give you a reason why they aren’t interested in buying it after seeing it in person. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. But if you’ve noticed a common complaint about your car, it’s definitely worth figuring out how to fix it.
Is it making a weird noise when you drive? Is the paint dull and scratched up? Perhaps it’s time to get that pesky tire pressure light in the dash fixed. If there’s something you can do to take a complaint that a few people have shared out of the equation, you need to seriously consider fixing it.
Yes, it’ll probably cost you some money. But if it makes the difference between your car selling or sitting, it might be worth it.
If you’re trying to guess why your car isn’t selling, you have access to a shortcut – ask the people that didn’t want to buy it, why they didn’t want to buy it! This is a great opportunity to figure out what’s going wrong.
Change the price
One of the most obvious reasons why your car might not be selling is that you’ve priced it too high. We all like to think our cars are worth the same or more than other comparable examples but it’s best to take an unbiased look. It’s totally ok for you to price your car higher than any of the other competitors for sale – but it better be able to back it up.
If you’re going to ask for more money for your car than the others, it needs to be better than the others. A car that’s in much better condition, has lower mileage, or a well documented service and maintenance history can absolutely sell for more than the others. But if your car is the same as the others, it needs to be priced the same (or lower).
Are you desperate to get the ball rolling and not concerned with extracting every penny out of your car? Drop the price to get people’s attention. Everyone loves a good deal and a lower price can also make up for other downsides of your car. The price is the easiest thing you can change in order to reduce the time it takes for your vehicle to sell.
There are also rare times when raising the price can actually have a positive effect on your sale. Many people automatically assume that something is better simply because it costs more money.
If you believe your car is a great purchase, it might be worth considering a higher price. Think of it as reverse psychology. Pricing it the same as the others can cause it to blend in with the others. If it has characteristics that make it stand out from them, raising the price can draw attention to that fact.
Do a better job of cleaning and detailing
Prepping your car for sale is an important thing to get right. Being lazy when it comes to cleaning and detailing can definitely be the cause of your car not getting the attention it needs in order to sell.
If you’ve been slacking in this department, it’s time to step up your game. You can’t leave all of your personal belongings and trash inside your car and expect someone to want to buy it.
The idea is to make your car as close to brand new as possible. Obviously, most used cars won’t be able to get all the way there. But every effort you put towards getting there will increase your chances of selling your car.
At a minimum, you need to wash the exterior and vacuum/dust the interior. Make sure to do this right before someone comes to look at it if possible. This won’t take long at all but can make a huge difference in the way people perceive your car.
You might want to consider taking it up a notch if your car has noticeably dull or scratched paint. Even a minor paint correction done by a detailer for a few hundred bucks can bring out a ton of shine and gloss – both of which will attract some serious attention.
Fix any known problems
You may be ignoring some problems with your car in hopes that it’ll sell without you needing to fix them. That’s ok, you tried – after all, who wants to spend money on something if they don’t have to? But if these issues are noticeable and your car hasn’t sold, it’s probably time to confront them. This is especially important if potential buyers have raised concerns about the problem.
If you aren’t inclined to do the work yourself, take your car to a mechanic to have a quote for what it would cost to fix the problem. Once you have an idea of the price, you can make your decision on whether or not it makes financial sense to fix it.
Some minor issues are no big deal to potential buyers. Bigger things like Check Engine lights or clunks in the suspension are going to really hinder your chances of selling your car. If you can fix it for a reasonable amount of money, go for it. If not, you might want to think about trading your car in to a dealership instead.
The reason your car isn’t selling could be as simple as a matter of timing. Some vehicles perform much better on the market at different times of the year. Think about what your car is known to excel at and factor that into the different seasons.
For instance, an AWD Subaru might sell much easier when winter is coming. In contrast, the excitement of summer might have people impulse buying more performance-oriented or open-top vehicles.
As long as you can afford to wait a bit, you might want to take your car off the market until the timing is right. Simply waiting a month or two might make all the difference in selling your car – and you might get more money for it too!
Try not to get discouraged if you find yourself in this position. Sometimes you just need to stick it out until you find the right buyer. Take a step back and think about all of the things mentioned above and if there’s anything you can improve upon, it’s time to take action. Selling your car privately requires effort and a little strategy. Make sure you’re doing your part to get your car to sell!
This post is part of our series about selling your used car.
Tim is the creator of Canadian Gearhead. His experience with auto detailing and working for Toyota shows through all of the articles posted here. He runs the Canadian Gearhead site and YouTube channel full-time now and currently owns a 2007 4runner, 2006 Tacoma, and 1991 MR2. Read more about Tim: