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November 2010 4Word - Editorial

Posted in Features on November 1, 2010
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I admit I have some experience buying and selling vehicles. Projects need to go so there are enough funds to purchase the next one. Even before the magazine days, though, from the time I was able to drive, it was a running joke with friends that I would sell my vehicles as soon as they needed gas or a wash. This was true with my motorcycles, too, as I can't remember how many I've owned over the years.

With this buying and selling experience, I've found some things that need to be done when selling a vehicle, as well as a few that shouldn't be done. During vehicle searches, I've run across some funny or unbelievable ads.

The most important thing that can be done when selling a running vehicle is to wash it! I've looked at many vehicles that are for sale over the years that have been filthy: Jeeps with mud and salt caked on them; cars that haven't been washed, vacuumed, or fumigated; motorcycles that are extremely dirty. All of these vehicles would have been easier to sell and would have brought more money if the owners had taken time to clean them up. Sometimes all it would take is a simple wash job to make the vehicle more attractive to a prospective buyer.

Take the time to fix little, easily repaired items when putting something up for sale. A loose rearview mirror can be repaired with a screwdriver. A flare hanging off a fender can be reattached. A quick shot of paint on scratched frame rails will make a frame look much better, as will some fresh paint on sandblasted front and rearend housings. You get the idea. Take a little time in exchange for quicker sales and more money.

Be honest when writing an ad or talking to a potential purchaser. It's easy to spot lies and this turns off buyers faster than anything. People are already suspicious of used vehicle sellers. Don't make things worse by lying. That being said, you can only disclose what you know. To cover unforeseen problems, make sure the buyer signs a statement that they understand the vehicle is sold as-is.

When buying a vehicle, qualifying your potential purchase before you go look at it can save money in gas and time. This only works if you're talking to an honest seller, of course. I remember asking a seller what kind of shape his YJ was in. He told me it was rough and listed some of its problems. I wasn't looking for a vehicle as beat up as this one was, so thanked him and moved on. A trip to where he was would have taken a whole day. Unfortunately, many sellers won't tell the truth or just can't see that their vehicle is garbage. I once asked a seller what kind of shape his vehicle was in. "Perfect!" was the reply. It was perfect as landfill. When inspected, it turned out it couldn't move under its own power.

Scammers are out there. Never purchase a vehicle where the seller wants you to wire money to them. Stay away from sellers such as the one who told me they were out of the country, but the vehicle could be seen in the U.S. as soon as money was received (what idiot would go for that?). Make sure there's a clear title involved, either in hand or at a lending institution. Purchasing a vehicle that has a cloudy history makes registering it in your name tough to impossible. There was this time....

Perusing classified ads can be interesting and fun. I've wondered what people are thinking when they list a vehicle at twice its value and then say, "Price is firm." They must be thinking they don't want to sell. Wishing will make it so. I saw an ad the other day that said, "Sweet ride. If I don't sell it, I'll keep it." Yes, I imagine they will.

I'm out of room. Buying or selling vehicles can be fun if a few simple guidelines are followed. I know it's been fun for me. Hundreds of times.

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