Why can't we sell this car?

Hi, hoping I could get some feedback. My husband and I are trying to sell our 2001 VW GOLF. It has 118,000 miles and is automatic transmission. It runs great. We have never had any mechanical problems with the car. The car has had the timing belt replaced, two of the tires are new, and we do maintenance on the car when needed. I think it drives nicer than my car which is one year younger and has 30,000 less miles. Oil changes are done every 3,000 miles. We are trying to sell it for a lot less than blue book value lists it. We are trying to sell it for 3,800. We feel this is really reasonable for this car.

To me this seems like a steal for a car that runs really well and hasn’t had any issues. Why is no one buying it? We have listed it only on craigslist so far and have had a lot of inquiries but no one coming to look at it.

The only issue is that it has a slight dent on the drivers side door where someone scratched up against it when pulling out of a parking spot. They had a snow plow on their car and that is what scratched it. So I guess you would consider it a bad scratch, but it is not a huge giant dent. I guess this might be what is turning people off.

I personally would rather have a reliable car that runs well for this price and would not car as much about cosmetic stuff on the door… but i guess it is an issue for people.

Any suggestions on what to do to sell the car? Should I list it on another site? Does it just take a long time to sell a car privately?

We are not trying to make tons of money on the car, we just want a reasonable price for it.

Suggestions or opinions would be appreciated!

Are you posting on Craigslist? That’s what I use, and it works. Otherwise, it just takes time.

It’s the economy. Not many people have the money for a car right now, and those who are in the market are looking for cars that have a better reputation for longevity and reliability. This has been a great car for you, but most people believe Japanese cars are more economical, even if that belief isn’t justified. Hang in there. You will find a buyer.

It’s the name. It sounds too much like the Fiat Hockey. Lucky it’s not called the Guckmunchen, which at least sounds German. What car name ends with an F? Words like dorf and barf are more negative than inspirational.

There was the BMW 75oil. Looked like that anyway. Silly names like Almond Joy Bites actually go into production. What’s next? The Hoover SUX? The VW Carat was another one. Hail a Cabrio.

Texans in a slightly different scenario could have shouted “Remember the Elmo”. Larry, Moe and Shemp had to change.

The “Bad Scratch” From A Plow Doesn’t Help.

I guess some would buy a car like this with body damage that has gone unrepaired, but I wouldn’t unless there was a large allowance it the selling price. I become skeptical of the excellent care the owner(s) claim the car has had. The car was extremely well taken care of, but they just let damage from a plow, slide? Are you offering or can you offer a fairly complete maintenance history of this vehicle in receipts?

There is a fairly famous passenger ship that was “practically new” in “excellent condition” and “well maintained”, nearly perfect except for a deep “scratch” in the hull caused by ice. The ice “scratch” betrays the otherwise outstanding condition of the vehicle (That and the fact that it’s hard to get to its present location).

Another problem is the number of other good deals on cars (without damage) that can be found out there. As others have suggested, you may have to wait it out for a while or start steadily coming down on the selling price. This car is 8-9 years old, now.

What are you using for a price, retail, trade-in, etcetera? I usually plan on a trade-in price on used vehicles that I purchase. Have you adjusted the price to reflect all that money you saved by not fixing the car when it was assaulted? You could pay to have the door fixed, but that may not net you more than adjusting for the damage.



How long have you been trying to sell the car? In this economy it may take a while. Do you know anyone who has a spare $3,800 just lying around?

The dent, or scratch, or whatever it is, isn’t helping, but eventually someone will come along and buy it. You just have to wait.

And keep trying. Advertise EVERYWHERE. Put a “For Sale” sign in the car and park it where it’s highly visible. Most of the cars I’ve sold privately were bought by someone who saw them sitting in my front yard with a “for sale” sign in the windshield.

It’s overpriced - plain and simple.

We all know if your asking price was $1 (one dollar), it would sell in an instant. It’s not selling for the price you’re asking. So the real price is somewhere in between.

Where you’re listing it, the type of car, condition of car, and the economy are all variables. But if no one is buying it, then it priced too high for the current state of all those variables.

One problem for a private party in selling an older used car is that you can’t finance the car, while a dealer can. Six years ago, we had to sell the car that belonged to my inlaws. The car was an eight year old (1995) Mercury Grand Marquis. The car was in perfect shape and had been meticulously maintained, and had gone 95,000 miles. I didn’t get the first response to an advertisement we placed in the newspaper. Fortunately, my neighbor suddenly took an interest in the car and bought it. I had been asking $3500 for the car, but sold it for $3000. You may have to drop your price to something under $3000.

Another possible problem is that VWs seem to appeal mostly to drivers who consider themselves to be driving “enthusiasts”, and typically those enthusiasts will want a car with a manual transmission. After all, the reason why people buy VWs is for the driving dynamics–certainly not for their reliability which historically trails the Japanese manufacturers (and even many American makes) to quite an extent.

As has been said, you probably need to drop the price by at least a few hundred bucks, and then be prepared for haggling down from that price. Between the economy and the factors that I mentioned above, it could take a while to sell this car, but if the price is attractive enough, it will sell.

Looking on Ebay, 2001 Golfs with over 100k miles seem to sell for $2000-$3000, so your $3800 may be too high. Go by a Carmax and see what they’ll offer you. It’ll be low, but it’ll give you an idea what the minimum you can get will be. “Blue Book” is out the window. Also, find out what it would cost to fix the scrape, you may need to if you want to get a better price, but it’ll be hard to recover the cost. Finally, make sure it is CLEAN, inside and out, with no odd odors, etc.

Several thoughts;first, target your sale and post it where the buyers are. If you believe it would be a good student car, bulletin boards at community college or sites that service them. Uncle Henry’s in Maine is a NE listing that “attracts” cheaper car buyers as another example. Many of the cars I’ve sold were as a result of “drive by’s” in high traffic areas near shopping centers or in route to.

Also, when I see a car that has NEVER had problems and has over 100K miles,as a buyer, I expect to be the one to replace alternators, CV joints etc. Some may be “attracted” to higher mileage cars that have had the usual wear items attended to already. I would then be selective of how I promoted the car with these things in mind.

Lastly…the reason number three to buy a Toyota/Honda…mine sold themselves at top dollar at or near dealer asking prices to an open market while my Fords,Chevys, Suzuki and others just took time and usually sold to owners of previous like brand and model and at lower than expected prices. I thought it would take forever to sell an old Granada til a buyer with an even older one came by and bought it…target previous VW owners and hang in there and be ready to lower the price as desperation sets in and you’ve tried all of the other things suggested by others.

There are only two reasons you can't sell a car:
  1. Your price is too high

  2. Your price is too high

    There may be something about the condition of the car that is turning people off, but don’t you think they would buy it anyway if you were asking $100.00 for it?

    So you correct more flaws making the car more desirable and keep the price or you lower the price and make the deal more desirable.

A dint in an otherwise good car really detracts from the perceived value. If you are serious abour selling this car, get it fixed OR explain the dent, while emphasizing the maintenance records (which I assume you have kept), and offer to discount the value of the dint repair.

Nearly all people buy a car based on appearance and the good care history is a bonus only. Since the car is automatic, I would post it on the local college bulletin board and put it in the college paper, as well as all supermarket boards. While a manual VW is considered a “guy” car, a low priced automatic VW is defintely a “chick” car.

I sold my last car privately by posting a COLOR PICTURE and a good write-up on the local supermarket bulletin board. The car sold within 2 days and I got within $100 of the asking price. The car’s appearance was more important than the 3 ring binder with the complete 19 year history of maintenance and repairs.

Good luck!

In some localities, there are places that will sell a car on consignment. Of course, the sales person will take a commission. However, the car will get some exposure and you might find the right buyer. You will also receive some guidance on setting the price.

I don’t put much stock in a “book” price, particularly for an older car. The only price that means anything is what someone will pay for the car.

Also, first impressions count. You may want to find out what an independent body shop would charge to remove the dent. Managers of used car lots have agreements with certain body shops to do this work. You may be able to find out from a used car manager where they get this kind of work done and the price may be lower than you think Do a detail job–shampoo the carpets, make certain the seats are clean without tears (an upholstery shop can fix torn upholstery with what is called an “insert” and again the price is usually reasonable). Do a good polish job on the exterior.

The first car I bought was a 1947 Pontiac in 1961 from a dealer. There was trash inside the car, the finish was dull, and the chrome had surface rust. I bought the car for $75. I cleaned the interior up, spent a day with rubbing compound and had the exterior finish looking like new, and buffed up the chome which removed all the surface rust. Before I could license the car to drive, I was offered twice what I paid for the car by a person that just happened to pass by. Like an idiot, I didn’t sell the car. The point is that first impressions count. Make your VW look like a car that you would want to purchase.

Here’s an alternative to getting the door fixed - replace it with one from a junked car. I bet you can find one in you car’s color, a 30 minute job.

I think you just gave yourself all the reasons to keep it.

In addition to my 06 , I still have a 92 and a 79.

Your price is attractive for a car in clean condition ($4100 @ Edmunds). Your car is at best average, and Edmunds suggests that about $3000 is more like it. You can say all you want, but people see the door damage and lose interest. You may be able to get the dent popped and painted. If you want to get the best price, you need to fix whatever is wrong with it. You should also get the inspection certification if it is required to register the car by the new owner. If you do all that, then the new owner can register it the day he drives it away from your house. Every impediment you place in the way of that goal will lower the price will get for the car.

could someone explain to me why edmunds and KBB do not have consistent info on used car values? Kelly blue books says that in fair condition this car is worth 4475. In good condition it is worth 5075.

We are asking 3800. although this problem with the body probably puts it in fair condition, mechanically it is in good condition. We are asking a lot less than the KBB values.

We had one dealership offer 2700 for a trade in, and they only buy these old cars at wholesale value? The guy even said the door wouldn’t cost that much to fix. Maybe a couple hundred. Dealership even admitted the car ran very well. We are just trying to get a little closer to the value of the car. If we are listing it below the “fair” value for KBB, then I don’t see why our price isn’t fair?

The reason we didn’t fix the door is because it happened when the car was already on the older side, it was a hit and run and we had no one to charge for insurance. We didn’t want to pay a 500 dollar deductible on the car to get it fixed because we didn’t see it as a big enough deal. In retrospect we should have just fixed it. This is not reflective of how we have taken care of the car mechanically, although any car of this age will need some additional maintenance at some point… but we have taken care of many of the bigger things.

Maybe I should check salvage yards and see if i can get another door. that might be the easiest solution if i can find one with the paint that is approximately the same color (not more or less faded).

The car has been great for us with zero problems, I wouldn’t even consider getting rid of it if it wasn’t for the fact that we have a baby and need something bigger.

Car values are all over the map. Be sure you are looking at the same (retail, wholesale) when comparing books. On older cars, a retail car price of $4000 would problably be a $2500 wholesale price. Some books show both. So, your car would be $4000 very clean and wholesale with a dint maybe $2000 max, no matter how good it is mechanically.

The reason for the wide descrepancy is that the margin on used cars is very high, especially older ones, and a wholesale car has to be cleaned up by the dealer to make it saleable.

I have bought a number of used cars over the years, and I’m prepared to pay midway between wholesale and retail for a very clean, well maintained car. I would pay wholesale for your car, and then find a door to replace the dinted one and do whatever maintenance and replacement items that were missed.

People sell cars privately because they can get more money that the dealer allowance or wholesale.

While the car is worth a lot to you, it will only fetch whatever the current market will bring.

Be careful of the $2700 trade-in offer, it can be manipulated by the dealer by changing the sale price for the new car. As for KBB vs Edmunds, who knows? The only way to find out what your car is worth in your area is to sell it. Also, make sure you compare a salvage door’s color to yours after you clean it with a polish wax. Surface film can make it look faded when a wax job will bring them back to the same color.