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Used Car Sale QUESTIONS about the Sale Transaction

3-27-2012 (new question added below @ 8:30AM PDT ):

I’ve used this thread so far to get some great suggestions about selling my used car (since I have never done it before). My next question:

There is always a risk in buying a used car with 140,000 miles. Who knows: The transmission could die six months from now. So, I will need to sell the car “AS-IS.” Is there a pre-written bill-of-sale that sellers use to state AS-IS & document the transactaion? (like on nolo.com or other legal webite).


Being PICKY about who buys my car!
11:00AM PDT

Hi! I own a 1991 Honda Civic that runs perfectly fine. BUT I just got notice that my job position is relocating overseas in May 2012, and I don’t want to ship this 21 year-old car across the ocean. It’s time to sell this car, and buy a new car later on.

The Civic runs well, has been well-maintained, and is in great condition. KBB value is $1500 and market price is $2500+ for similar Civic DXs. I plan to sell my Civic at a firm bargain price ($1,000) since I’m short on time and also hate haggling over price. However, I don’t want the buyer just to ‘flip-it’ for a profit or strip-it for parts (my new tires alone could be sold on Craigslist for $200). I want to sell it to someone locally who is in need of a reliable vehicle at a more-than-fair price. Someone who will keep this car for a couple years (because no major maintainance is expected for about five more years).

If I post an ad about my car (with the low price), I am going to be contacted by flippers and car-strippers. So I probably won’t resort to Craigslist unless I have to. How do I appropriately find someone who is in actual need of a car to buy & drive? Do I hang-out at a used car lot to watch for “car worthy” people as they are entering/leaving?

Suggestions please. Thank you.

Is $1000 for a reliable car a good deal?
1:00PM PDT EDITED-TO-ADD: I have an additional question to ask now: Is $1000 a good deal for someone looking for a reliable passenger car? Or are there tons of other models out there of similar quality that will run for $500-800 (thus making my $1000 “deal” not such a bargain)?

( FYI: My Civic is 21 years old but looks great & runs in perfect condition and is only at 140,000 miles. The car is has been well-maintained - it will last another 60,000 miles without major maintenance. This Civic has never failed me. 30 MPG, alarm and stereo, new tires, brakes at 90%. New muffler/exhaust pipes, everything functions, no dents, accident-free, etc.)


5:00 PM PDT

NEXT QUESTION: I have nothing to hide about the car’s condition, title, odometer, etc. Naturally, a buyer will want to have the car checked-out first by a mechanic (even if spending “only” $1000). Does the buyer pay for the inspection & tell me the shop to take my car? Do I leave the car (or stay with it) while it is being inspected?

FINALLY, to conclude the sale: Do I accept cash in exchange for the keys & title? Do we meet at the buyer’s bank to withdraw the cash or have them create a cashier’s check in my name on the spot? (A little anxious about fake bank checks or a transaction ending up like a drug deal gone bad!).

I’d ask around work/friends/relatives, somebody probably knows someone in need of a good used car. If $1,000 is a great price then this would be one time I’d ignore the ‘don’t sell a car to someone you know’ advice.

Two words…

“College Student”

Thanks for the two suggestions. I’d rather avoid selling it to anyone connected personally. Somehow “AS-IS” doesn’t seem to apply. If the car breaks down in 6 months, I would never hear the end of it (even living/working overseas!).

Re: College Students. I see ads on Craiglist that say “I am in desperate need a car that runs, but I only have $400.” Senior citizens sell to them good cars thinking they are helping-out. However, those posters are the ones who are flipping cars for a $1000+ profit. College students are resourceful and very savvy.

Told ya I was PICKY about who to whom I sell my car! :slight_smile:

Well, now it’s getting tougher. I would definitely NOT hang out at a dealer lot. Just take it to several used car lots and accept the highest offer.

Re: “Just take it to several used car lots and accept the highest offer.”

A used car dealer’s job is to flip cars for a profit. S/he’d gladly buy my car for a $1000, but then sell it on the lot for $2499 with a cheap paint job & an air-freshner. I’d cringe if I saw my car being pimped-out like that! (And I’d feel like I had my privates violated in the process. Haha). I’d rather avoid the “middle man” and go directly to the buyer.

Any other suggestions on how to reach someone in NEED of a car who only has $1000? Thanks.

When you offer an item “For Sale” and a buyer shows up with the asking price, that’s it, your control over the item is GONE…

You could list it for $2500, see what kind of action you get (you might be surprised) and if you are trying for sainthood, you can always lower the price if the buyer meets your wishes…

Or if you want to be a REAL saint, donate it to NPR! (or to whomever you want)

"When you offer an item “For Sale” and a buyer shows up with the asking price, that’s it, your control over the item is GONE…"
This is the reason I don’t want to list it for $1000, and deal with the flippers and strippers.

"You could list it for $2500, see what kind of action you get (you might be surprised) and if you are trying for sainthood, you can always lower the price if the buyer meets your wishes…"
Good idea. However, this would unintenionally keep away the people who really need a good car but only have $1000.

"Or if you want to be a REAL saint, donate it to NPR! (or to whomever you want)"
Just two weeks before I got my notice of transfer (overseas), I had new tires put on (paid $300), replaced a failing windshield wiper motor ($250), changed all the fluids/oil ($100), and has a full tank of gas ($40). I gotta get something back for my overzealous maintainance! And I’d rather the car be driven by someone who NEEDS it rather than someone buying it for a second or third family car. That’s why I thought I could target a buyer at a used car lot who walks off thinking s/he can’t afford anything decent - and encounter a great deal.

You could also get a VERY bad reaction from the lot owner or employee…

True, but the used car sales lots have no control if I am off their property - in the public sidewalk & roadside. Also, I could even go catch the buyers looking after hours (when staff have left). Any other ideas on how I can reach a buyer in NEED of a good car with only $1000?

My Next Question… Is $1000 a good deal for someone looking for a reliable passenger car? Or are there tons of other models out there of similar quality that will run for $500-800 (thus making my $1000 “deal” not such a bargain)?

( FYI: My Civic is 21 years old but looks great & runs in perfect condition and is only at 140,000 miles. The car has been well-maintained - it will last another 60,000 miles without major maintenance. This Civic has never failed me. 30 MPG, alarm and stereo, new tires, brakes at 90%. New muffler/exhaust pipes, everything functions, no dents, accident-free, etc.)

Advertise the car and don’t low ball the price. If you will take $1,000 advertise it for 2K and if you like the buyer let it go for 1K. It would be a great car for $1K in my opinion. HS or college student or struggling family would love such a car.

You might want to talk to your church or one of the in town charities like Lutheran Social Services or the Catholic Charities. Every once in a while we get notices that someone needs a car free or real cheap. But yeah, you may want to just donate it to Disabled Vets.

Now the real question is why are you allowing your employer to dictate what country you’re going to work in. I know things are tough, but this should be a mutual decision with a limited assignment. Just IMHO.

Too bad you’re (I assume) not in the Minnesota area. The guys in my import club were just talking last weekend about how hard it is to find 4th gen Civics that haven’t been destroyed or pimped out. One of us would probably buy it from you in a heart beat.

That said, you’re going to sell it and never see it again. As long as you get the money you want for it, it’s illogical to care what the buyer does with it. When I sell a car, the buyer can turn it into a submarine for all I care. Actually, the last one I sold was to the county’s emergency management agency. They put it on an airport runway and set it on fire to let crews train in putting out small airplane fires.

If you prefer the college student route there is probably a cork board you could post a paper ad on at a college near you, as a thought. Very nice sentiment BTW! Sounds like a very reasonable asking price. As is always applies!

“You might want to talk to your church …Every once in a while we get notices that someone needs a car free or real cheap.”
I like this idea a lot. I am being fair and providing full-maintenance records of the car. A church member would be more likely to honest about their needs for a vehicle.

“The guys in my import club were just talking last weekend about how hard it is to find 4th gen Civics that haven’t been destroyed or pimped out.”
I looked online to get a general idea of the ’91 Civic DX prices (which is where I got the $2500 market price). Some are in NY/NJ & FL that are in similar great condition as mine.

“Now the real question is why are you allowing your employer to dictate what country you’re going to work in. I know things are tough, but this should be a mutual decision with a limited assignment. Just IMHO.”
They’ve been giving advance notice about the possibility for the last two years, which is why I haven’t purchased a newer car or real estate. My company needs physical presence in the foreign markets. And I’m an adventurous spirit! The opportunity arose for me to voluntary accept an overseas position now, and I really liked the terms they give. The future may not have those fringe benefits (or a job in the US!). After a couple years’ experience, I could return to the US in an upper level position in my own company or another. A win-win for me.

I’ve used this thread so far to get some great suggestions about selling my used car (since I have never done it before). Here are two more questions:

NEXT QUESTION: I have nothing to hide about the car’s condition, title, odometer, etc. Naturally, a buyer will want to have the car checked-out first by a mechanic (even if spending “only” $1000). Does the buyer pay for the inspection & tell me the shop to take my car? Do I leave the car (or stay with it) while it is being inspected?

FINALLY, to conclude the sale: Do I accept cash in exchange for the keys & title? Do we meet at the buyer’s bank to withdraw the cash or have them create a cashier’s check in my name on the spot? (A little anxious about fake bank checks or a transaction ending up like a drug deal gone bad!).

The buyer pays for a mechanical inspection.

The logistics of the transaction can differ state to state. What state will you be in when you sell the car? PA is somewhat different than NY. Give the state and you’ll get someone with experience in your locale to advise you.

Unfortunately $1000 is not a whole lot of money when it comes to running used cars. So chances are the prospective would just bring a friend and give the car a good thorough look and test drive and buy it. Also for that amount it might not be worth getting a cashier’s check, either cash or transfer in the bank. Watch for counterfeit bills, esp $50 and higher.