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How to Get the Best Price for Your Car

The following is a guest post from Aaron at Three Thrifty Guys.  Please check out that site - he literally got this post together for me just because he knew I was dealing with a lot this week.  In fact, the new carpet is being installed today.  Thank you Aaron!

Since I first started driving – some 20 years ago – I have never once bought a new car. I’ve gone through 6 cars and all have had their fair share of wear. Through good experiences and bad – I have learned a few things about selling an automobile and getting the best possible price.

First Thing’s First

My first two cars ended up stranding me on the side of the road. And I don’t blame them. They were pretty beat up and worn out. I had driven ‘em close to 200k miles and they were just plain tired. So, the first car I sold was my ’99 VW Jetta to a wise car flipper. (yes, they have car flippers too). I was just a few months removed from paying off the 5-year car loan on the used VW when I found a deal for another VW Jetta for sale (yes, same color) on Craigslist. I met with the owner – who seemed very upfront and traded my ‘99 Jetta for his older, yet “refurbished” model. While the ’99 had some defects – I soon would learn this ’97 model was even worse off. In a year and a half of ownership, I had spent just over $5k on that thing. It was a lemon.

From that poor experience, I vowed I wouldn’t try and take advantage of another person trying to buy from me.

I would be an honest used car salesman.


When it comes to used car prices – the “Bible” is the Kelley Blue Book ( Most dealers and private parties will be checking values by this resource. You should too. Know the price you should expect to receive based on your vehicles condition/mileage for both a private sale and a dealer sale (they give both). You can also check and see what your car is going for in the classified section of your local newspaper. Every situation is different, but I would suggest trying to sell your auto via a private party. You’re likely to get more.

Check your Car’s History

Make sure you know the history of your vehicle and what a potential buyer will see if they look up your car on sites like Do your own investigation there so that you are prepared to handle any inquiries about your car’s past. Also, have you kept detailed records of all the repairs and maintenance performed on your car? Clean records will certainly help you maximize the price you can sell your car for.

Clean ‘er Up!

Spend a little bit of money (or do it yourself) for professional detailing. Having your car look sharp and clean could add hundreds more to the sale of your vehicle. Well worth the investment.

List it on Popular Websites

Obviously one of the best places to sell a car (and for FREE) is Craigslist. The site is widely known and used by everyone who surfs online. Other places you may want to advertise your car is at your place of work or at an organization you belong to (church, community club, etc). These are all free and will get you qualified leads and a quick(er) sale.

Negotiate with Confidence

One of the keys to a successful used car sale is to be confident in your pricing. Be sure you back up your price with facts like, “I have kept all the maintenance records since purchasing the car”, “I  have the history of the car in a detailed report which I will provide for you”, “I just put new tires on the car two months ago” OR “The price I am asking is consistent with Kelley Blue Book’s value”. When I have done my research and provide honest intel to a potential buyer, I feel more confident in my asking price.

More often than not, a buyer will ask you to lower your price. If you aren’t firm on your price, make sure you only go down in price by small increments. For example, if your asking price is $3500 and the buyer asks you to sell for $2750 – tell them, “I’ll go down to $3400.” This way you aren’t giving away the farm in the first round of negotiating. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a potential sale either. Especially if you feel your price is fair. A danger is thinking the first buyer will be your only prospect.

While this is not exhaustive – I do hope these tips help you get the best price for your car.

Do you have any ways you have been able to get a good price for your used car?

Crystal’s Comments:  Great advice!  I covered some of this in How to Sell Your Car on Craigslist, but I love these negotiating tips.  And the experience behind this post is stellar – I have only sold 3 cars in my life, 2 of my own and 1 for a relative.  Some day I will bite the bullet and sell my Chevy Aveo…I really dislike my crappy car, but I like keeping the money in the bank even more, lol.

Really?! You Can’t Fix Stupid.

As Ron White says, you can’t fix stupid.  I know that is harsh, but seriously…read on.


So my husband comes home from work today and tells me about a conversation he had earlier in the day with a fellow teacher.  Here is her backstory.  Her daily commute is about 120 miles or more roundtrip.  She drives a fuel efficient car that isn’t paid off yet.  That car is about 2-3 years old and has 70,000 miles on it.  She wants to trade it in for a newer model of the same type of car.  My husband asked why and these are the reasons she listed off:

1.  This car has too many miles on it.
2.  She’s hoping to not need a car in 3 years.
3.  So when she sells her car in 3 years, one with less miles would sell for more.

Do you see a problem with this logic?  Mr. BFS did…he said he sat there with his mouth open for a few seconds not knowing how to respond.

Why I am Being Judgy

In case you aren’t following along, this person would like to sell her current car, that is working great, to buy a newer model of the same car, so she can turn around and sell the newer car in 3 years for more than the current one would be worth at that time.  She thinks that is the best deal for her and her money.  Really?!

Guesstimates Based on the Car

Current car was $25,000 or more.  Currently worth $16,000 or less.  Owes at least $12,000 (probably way more, but I will be extra optimistic).  She has paid at least $16,000 including interest.  If she sells this car, she will pocket at best $4000 and have paid a total of $12,000 and I am being very generous with my guesstimates.

If she keeps this car, in 3 more years it will be paid off (probably $30,000 or more total with interest) and be worth about $10,000.  That means she would have probably paid a total of $20,000.

A new model of this car is $25,000 or more.  Will be worth about $16,000 in 3 years.  She will already be in it for $16,000 again.  It will still have about $12,000 left.  So she sells it and yet again is in the hole for about $12,000.

Her Options

Option A – Keep the car, pay it off, sell it in 3 years, and spend a total of around $20,000
Option B – Keep the car, pay it off faster, sell it in 3 years and spend less than $20,000
Option C – Keep the car, pay it off faster, get stuck here, keep car, and spend less than $30,000
Option D – Sell the car, buy a new one, sell it in 3 years, and be down at least $24,000
Option E – Sell the car, buy a new one, get stuck here, keep car, and be out at least $32,000

In no scenario will selling her current car and buying a new one be in her favor monetarily.  It just doesn’t work like that.  If you could make money by buying new cars, selling them, and buying another new car, no one would ever drive a car older than 2 years.  Cars are the definition of a depreciating asset and she wants to load up.  Oy.

What do you think?  Am I missing something?

The Pros and Cons of a Prius – From an Owner’s Mouth

As I’ve written before, my husband owns a Prius.  The funniest thing is that we didn’t actually buy a Prius to conserve gas.  In 2008, my husband wanted a small SUV in order to haul around his reffing supplies and Curling gear, but then he saw a Prius in a supermarket parking lot and peeked in the back.  He was surprised by the storage area and the Prius was cheaper than the Hyundai Sante Fe he had in mind.  That is how we ended up choosing to buy a Prius - it ended up being $21,500 for a 2007 Toyota Prius with a ton of extras and the Sante Fe was about $30,000-$35,000 depending on what options he wanted.  That said, making double the miles per gallon is pretty great too.  Here are the pros and cons we see of owning a Prius:

Prius Pros

  • It makes 44-47 miles per gallon on road trips and 47-52 miles per gallon with in-city driving.  Yep, that seems backwards but it isn’t since the breaking system is part of the battery re-charging process.
  • It has the perfect amount of storage space in the back for all the stuff my husband takes around – reffing duffel bags, Curling broom and shoe bag, and our bowling ball bags for our bowling league.
  • It is very comfortable for up to 4 adults and semi-comfortable for 5 if a couple of the adults are not large, lol.
  • It drives fairly smooth – a lot smoother than my Chevy Aveo.
  • It is a quiet ride since it only makes noise while it uses gas to recharge the batteries.
  • It doesn’t require much maintenance at all since all of the systems are enclosed.  So far, we just have its oil changed every 5000 miles and it will need a closer look when it hits 100,000 miles.
  • The push button start and backup camera are great!  Other cars have those too, so keep an eye out.

Prius Cons

  • There is a big blind spot thanks to the slope of the rear window area.
  • It is so quiet that we’ve accidentally left it running in the garage for a few hours until we went to investigate the periodic vacuum cleaner sound.
  • It seems to run through good tires every year or two and it costs about $450 to have them all replaced at Discount Tire.
  • If something breaks that shouldn’t – it would be expensive to replace.  The battery pack alone is $3000.  So far, we haven’t had any issues at all though.

Can You Save Money in the Long Run on Gas Alone?

Before you yell at me about a Prius being a bad deal, I will beat you to the punch.  It isn’t a great deal for everyone.  I know.  It was an awesome car for us since it saved me from owning an expensive SUV that makes 22 miles per gallon on a good day, but it isn’t the car for everyone.  If you are ever in the market for a basic sedan, it would take years for the Prius to pay you back for its extra cost through gas savings alone.  Here is a quick breakdown.

A Prius vs Basic Sedan Breakdown

Let’s say you drive 15,000 miles a year (like my husband).  Let’s also say a Prius makes 50 miles per gallon and cost $23,000 to buy and the other car you have in mind makes 25 miles per gallon and cost $18,000 to buy (a standard sedan).  That means you would need to fill up the other car twice as much but it cost $5000 less up front. 

At gas being $3.00 a gallon, the Prius would cost $900 in gas and the other car would be $1800 in gas.  You’d only be saving $900 a year in gas.  It would take you a little more than 5 1/2 years to pay back the extra cost of the Prius in gas alone.  So in our example, if you usually own your cars for 6 years or more, the Prius may make sense for you.  If not, the sedan may end up being cheaper if all other things were equal.

The Gas Savings vs Bigger Prius Cost Equation

Basically, here’s how you can use to see if a Prius would save you more in the long run:

1.  (Your Average Annuals Miles / Comparison Car Miles Per Gallon) * $Gas Price Per Gallon = Cost of Gas for Comparison Car (CC)
2.  (Your Average Annuals Miles / 50) * $Gas Price Per Gallon = Cost of Gas for Prius (P)
3.  CC – P = Gas Savings Per Year (to use below)

Extra Cost of the Prius / Gas Savings per Year = Years it Would Take to Break Even

Example – 2011 Prius at $25,000 vs 2011 Corolla at $18,000 (based on prices I found online at a nearby Toyota dealer)

1.  (12,000 / 30) * $3 = $1200
2.  (12,000 / 50) * $3 = $720
3.  $1200 - $720 = $480

$7000 / $480 = 14.6 Years to Break Even

That number of years would go down as gas prices go up and vice versa.  But in general, I wouldn’t make my car choice based on miles per gallon alone.  Would I think about getting a Prius myself?  Yep.  But I like it because of its versatility.  Keep in mind though, my other favorites are a Mazda Miata or even a Mini Coupe…cuteness can beat out usefulness, lol.

Look at me getting my math on for you.  :-)

What do you like and dislike about your vehicle?  What do you like and dislike about a Prius?  Any Prius owners out there with one 5 years and older?  What can we expect?

How to Sell a Used Car

The following is a guest post.

Selling a used car is not as easy as it once was so you need to come up with a way to differentiate your car offering from the selling crowd.

Run an Ad

One of the tried and true methods for selling a car is to use local advertising. An advertisement should effectively communicate that I want to sell my car immediately. Highlight all of the positives about the car. List the make, model, mileage, and condition of the car. Classified ads can be run in newspapers, flyers, and local magazines. Online advertisements are another option as well.  The cost should be minimal as long as the ad is direct and to the point.

Use a Sign

Face to face selling is still a very popular medium. The best advertising of your car could be your very own driveway. Wash, wax your car, and clean up the interior. You want your car to be as presentable as possible so that it makes a great impression. Place a For Sale sign in the back window of the car with a contact number. If your car is in great shape, you just might find that you have a ton of buyers in a short amount of time.

Use Online Sites

Car sellers should use the power of the Internet to their advantage. You can list your car on online websites and open up the selling process to thousands of potential buyers. This way you are not just limited to the people in your local area. There are lots of online sites that will enable you to get in contact with buyers everywhere. Depending on the type of car, you could find a ton of global buyers. Websites like sell my car London have a ton of professional car cash buyers.  You could also use

Auction your Car

If you just want to get rid of your old car as quickly as possible, you can auction it off. You can use sites like eBay or trade it in to a dealer. You won’t get as much money as you would from a private sale but you can get your used vehicle sold a lot faster.

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance Coverage

Post provided by Anthony King.

To many people, owning a car is a great achievement. True, it really is one of the best things you can wish for in life. However, the down side is the expenses associated with car ownership. Sometimes some car owners wish they never spent their cash on the machine. If it is the insurance coverage that are continuously eating into your pocket, the solution lies in getting cheap car insurance coverage and save your cash for other activities.

One mistake that many car owners make is purchasing insurance from some of the most popular insurance companies. It is logical because you get the best services, but the down side is the high expenses. You do not want to spend all your fortune on car insurance and assume other more important necessities like food, do you? So why not exercise your freedom of choice and look around for other existing insurers that people may know little about? Search the Internet for car insurers today and take advantage of the competition amongst online insurers to get the most reasonable price.

Searching for the cheapest auto insurance can also help you unearth savings you didn’t even know about. Many insurance companies offer various discounts to clients on different grounds. There is a discount for purchasing insurance in a group that a given insurer has an agreement with. That is, if you are an affiliate of recognized alumni groups, business operations or professional clubs, you are eligible for such discounts. Find out from your employer or club if such incentives are possible and if not, join any of such groups. You will realize how affordable paying for insurance can be.

Moreover, you can first calculate the worth of a car before buying it oven purchasing its insurance cover. The price of the vehicle, the cost of repair and its safety, are some of the elements that determine a vehicle’s worth. A car dealer can calculate this for you or you can as well do it online. Knowing your car’s worth will enable you shop around for insurance more efficiently. You will be keen to compare the deals and the worth of the car so as to get a reasonable balance.

How to Jump a Dead Car Battery

I had no idea how to jump a dead car battery until a couple of weeks ago when my neighbor needed a jump.  I have only been driving for about 10 years.  That doesn’t sound like much, but I have either needed a jump or assisted in giving a jump at least 5 or 6 times in that 10 years.  The thing is, I never was the one who used the jumper cables.   In case I am not the only person out there that missed this particular life lesson, here is how to jump a dead car battery without killing yourself or your battery.

How to Jump a Dead Car Battery

1.  Turn both cars off.

2.  Pick a color on the jumper cable and connect each side to the positive feed of the batteries.  For example, we clipped each red clip to the positive feed out of each of our car batteries.

3.  Repeat for the negative side of the batteries.  We each connected the black clips of the jumper cable to the negative feed out sections. 

EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that it is even safer to attach one clip to the negative side of the live battery and the other clip to the frame of the dead car to ground it.

4.  Turn on the car with the good battery and start revving to juice up the dead battery. 

EDIT:  Also remind the person next to the dead battery to back away a bit just in case there is an issue with the dead battery.

5.  Try turning on the dead car.  My neighbor’s car started almost immediately but my husband said it sometimes will take a lot longer to feed in enough juice.

6.  Turn off the car that had the working battery.

7.  Leave on the car that had the dead battery so the alternator can charge it a bit.

8.  Disconnect one color at a time and do not let the jumper cable clips touch.  For example, we removed the red clip from each of our batteries and then the black clips, but we made sure to keep those far apart while we were removing them.  It they touch while live, you create a short circuit.  I am not 100% sure what happens, but I am assuming it is bad.

That’s how we successfully started her car without hurting ourselves or our cars, which saves us money (in case I had not explained why I am putting this on my personal finance blog, lol). 

I also have printed out these instructions and are keeping them with my jumper cables.  If I ever need to know when I’m not actually around my car, I’ll use my smart phone to look up this post.  :-)

Did I miss any important steps or state anything incorrectly?  Am I the only one who really did not know how to do this?

How Long Do Cars Last?

Hey everybody!  Today I am actually asking you all a question instead of really answering any.  How long have your cars lasted?

It just dawned on me that my stupid car is already 6 years old.  My husband’s Prius is 4 years old.  We only ever really expected for our cars to make it 7-8 years overall.  That means that I will hopefully be quitting my day job to blog full time at the same time my car is hitting the big 7 year mark.

My Car History

I know, you are going to ask me why I only expect 7-8 years out of a car.  Honestly, I don’t know.  The car I drove the first part of college, a 1999 Mazda Protegé, was very badly abused before I owned it, so I shouldn’t use its sad 4-5 year existence to judge cars as a whole. 

Plus, the 2003 Chevy Cavalier I borrowed the year after that is still going strong with my sister, so that’s good news.  In short, I really don’t know why my husband and I only really expect 7-8 good years…

Of course, the crappy parts they used to build my Chevy Aveo don’t hold much of my esteem.  I mean, what sort of car company builds a car with a plastic thermostat housing?!  For those of you who may not know, the thermostat housing keeps the radiator fluid enclosed…it’s a part near the engine.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that plastic is probably not the best material to use next to a searing hot engine!  Even Chevy must have figured it out since the replacement part was a metal one.  But there was no recall…grrr…

My Husband’s Car History

So, I do not have high expectations about my car.  On the other hand, my husband’s 2007 Prius hasn’t has even one little problem in the last 3 years that we’ve owned it (it was 1 year old when we bought it).  We’ve had its oil changed and have replaced the tires, but no parts have broken or seem to be dying.  Overall, it truly impresses me with how easy it is to own.  I did not expect that out of a hybrid – I just assumed the technology would give us problems.  I’ll let you all know if/when it does.

But, we sold my husband’s last car, a 2003 Hyundai Sonata, after 5 years since it started sounding funny.  It never really was the same after a huge wreck we were in when it was only 6 months old.  The other guy’s insurance company “fixed” it instead of totaling it, which I thought was truly awful since there are just some things that can’t be fixed.  Like a completely crumpled front end…engine and everything…

Of course, I should base the life of a car off of something like that either since our current cars have never been in a wreck.

So, what kind of cars have you owned?  How long did they last in general or just with you?  What do you think I should reasonably expect out of my 2005 Chevy Aveo and my husband’s 2007 Toyota Prius?