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Eleven Tips on Privately Selling Your Used Car

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Private-party car sales are up.  More than 11 million cars are sold to people from people every year, according to Manheim Consulting, part of a used-car wholesale operation.  And nearly 40 million used cars are sold each year, three times the number of new cars.

If you're looking to get rid of your old vehicle yourself, here are 11 tips from experts to help you get the most money back:

Prep your car and rethink the keychain.  Vacuum up the hair, empty the ashtray and get rid of the loose change and food wrappers.  Empty the trunk, check the fluids -- oil, brake and windshield -- and get the car washed and even waxed.  Don’t forget about the tires.

“Even though it might be inconvenient to you,” said Brian Moody, Autotrader’s used-car expert, “someone wants to picture their stuff there -- not necessarily your stuff.”

Be upfront and organized.  Get the car inspected and have all maintenance records and warranties available.

Price it right.  Check with a local dealer and online resource guides like and to come up with a price tag.  That sweet spot is usually best between 97 percent and 102 percent of blue book.

Take photos and more photos.  Take dozens of pictures to prove that you have nothing to hide.  Take shots from all sorts of angles -- interior, exterior, the engine, trunk, dashboard -- and then show it.  And make sure the steering wheel is straight!

Make a video ad.  Make your car come alive -- a little song and dance never hurt -- and tell its story.  Be funny.  Tell the world why you love your car.

Write the ad.  Be specific.  Focus on how the car gets out of snow well or has amazing windshield wipers.  Avoid gimmicky phrases like “fully loaded” and “like new.”  Be honest about the car’s flaws too.  Show a dent.  Mention a stain.  This will make a potential buyer trust you because no used car is perfect and that’s OK.

Advertise in three places.  Most private sellers sell their cars online so check out, and free sites like Craig’s List and Facebook Marketplace.  Post signs everywhere -- in the supermarket, the coffee shop, pass them out and if you have a regular mechanic, tell him/her it’s for sale.  Put a “For Sale” sign in the car and then drive it around town.  And don’t just post a phone number.  Post the price too.

Dress for success.  Wear decent clothes and shoes when you show your car to a potential buyer.  Make sure the garage is clean, the lawn is mowed and flowers are blooming.  Be confident.

Nicole Marksen, an automotive insider, also shared some don’ts when trying to close a deal.

Don’t be too smooth.  Marksen said most people are afraid of going to a dealership so private sellers should make potential buyers feel “warm” and “comfortable.”

Don’t ignore “her.”
  Marksen said that 85 percent of car-buying decisions were ultimately made by a woman.

Don’t negotiate before the test drive.  “What you want to do is have them driving, really loving it, and then having that discussion after,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio