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Sold My 2005 Chevy Aveo – How to Sell a Car

I bought my new Honda Fit last week, so the next step was to sell my 2005 Chevy Aveo.  The estimates I could find from dealerships were just around $2000, but my online research showed that I could get $3000-$4000 pretty easily.  I sold the last car we replaced, a 2003 Hyundai Sonata, on Craigslist in 2008 for double the dealer’s offer, so I decided to try again.  Here is how I sold my car in less than 72 hours.

1.  Gather the Documentation

The first thing I did was to make sure that I had my car’s title ready to go.  If you can’t locate your title, order a copy as soon as you can.  In Texas, you can go to http://txdmv.gov/motorists/buying-or-selling-a-vehicle/get-a-copy-of-your-title to get the form to print, fill out, and mail in with a $2 check.  You can do a quick search of your state’s DMV site or a search engine to find your exact process.

I also found our online DMV site and printed out a Texas Certificate of Title (Form 130-U) and a Bill of Sale.  I also ended up submitting the Motor Vehicle Transfer Notification form online.  That informs the DMV that I no longer own the car, so I shouldn’t be held liable for it anymore.  The buyer will also want to have you two fill out a transit permit app online like this one and print it out so that they can drive around without plates for up to 5 days to give them time to register the car under their name.  Again, no matter what state you live in, you can find all of the info you need through a quick online search or through your DMV.

In short, you will need:

  • Title
  • Title App
  • Bill of Sale
  • Transfer Notification
  • Transit Permit

2.  Determine a Value

I spent a couple of hours researching how much my car was worth.  On Kelley Blue Book, it was listed at $3071 in “Fair” condition or $3471 in “Good” condition.  My Aveo fell somewhere in between those definitions – it had minor body work damage (a wavy part above the front, right wheel well) and no current issues with how it functioned.  Technically, it was closer to “Good” even though I personally was losing faith in it because of the things I have had to replace like the thermostat housing and master brake cylinder.

On Edmunds, my Aveo was closest to “Average” condition, which was listed as $2600 in a private party sale or $3350 if a dealership was selling it.

I also searched for other 2005 Chevy Aveo’s that were listed on Craigslist in my area, and the ones closest to my condition were listed around $3800-$4100, and they had more miles on them.

Based on all of that, I decided to list my 2005 Chevy Aveo for $3950 and accept the first cash offer over $3100 (obviously keeping that number to myself).

You will always want to ask for at least 10-15% more than you actually want since people will haggle.  It’s human nature to only believe you got a great deal if you got some money off of the asking price…even if the asking price was intentionally inflated.  That’s why it pays to ask for a discount on pretty much any purchase…it may be built into the price.

3.  Clean the Car

This is a huge problem that I saw on other Craigslist postings – people would post pictures of their dirty car for sale and expect everyone to love it.  They won’t.  Do you want to spend a few thousand on a new-to-you car knowing that you immediately have to clean it?  No.

Do yourself and your future buyers a favor.  Wash your car and clean out the interior.

I spent 2 1/2 hours on my car since it was dirty.  I am not a doting owner.  So, I took it to a drive-through car wash that had a $3 special.  Then I dried it off with a towel so it wouldn’t have water marks.  I also took a simple soap solution (a few drops of liquid dish washing soap and water) and washed off any remaining yucky marks that the car wash didn’t get completely off.  That all took about 20 minutes.

The remaining 2 hours was spent getting all of my stuff and trash out of the car and trunk, vacuuming, using Windex on the plastic parts and the windows, and taking masking tape to the upholstery to pull off a bunch of dog hair.  I also squirted around some Febreze: Allergen Reducer when I was done to help make it smell fresh and hopefully help out anybody that may be allergic to dogs.  My total cost was $3 since I already had the soap, water, Windex, masking tape, and Febreze for home use.  I also read that baby wipes work great on the plastic parts too.  I forgot to polish up my tires, but that’s recommended too.

If you don’t want to spend a couple of hours cleaning he car you want to sell, find a detailing place to do it for you.  My in-laws occasionally use an $80 place on their side of town.  The closest detailer to my house wanted $130, so I just did it myself.

4.  Take Pictures

Another big problem with some car listings online was that there were few or no pictures at all!  Would you want to drive a long way to test drive a car without having any idea what it is going to look like?  No, of course not!

My 2005 Chevy Aveo

SOLD!!!

My main picture was the “photogenic” side of my car at an angle as you can see above.  Then I took pictures of the front, back, and both sides of the exterior.  I also did a close-up of the damaged area on the passenger side front wheel well so future buyers would know that I wasn’t hiding it, and it wasn’t that bad.  I then took pictures of the interior seats, front and back, the whole dashboard area (by sitting in the back seat), and a close up of the odometer.  Then I took a picture of the original owner’s manual and window sticker just in case that would be a great selling point.  :-)  I forgot to take a picture of the open trunk, but that would have helped too since it was really big.

Craigslist allows up to 24 pictures, so you should definitely be able to fully show off your car!

5.  Create the Craigslist Post

People generally find the time to buy cars on the weekends, so Fridays or super early Saturdays are the best days to post.  I would suggest Craigslist above anything else since they are free and widely used for used car buyers.  I also created free ads at Cars.com and Thrifty Nickel online, but they didn’t get any responses except from shady car buying agencies.  I deleted them.

Remember to include the year, make, model, and condition or major selling point in the title of the ad.  Also remember, once again, to set the selling price at least 10-15% more than you are willing to take since everybody will want to haggle no matter what price you choose.

I posted first on Wednesday, then renewed that one and posted another one on Friday night.

The ad that ended up selling the car was titled “REDUCED Blue 2005 Chevy Aveo LS – LOW MILES at 63k – Non-Smoker Owner!!!” and the price was $3950 on Wednesday and reduced to $3900 Friday night.  I was willing to accept $3100, but was aiming for $3500.

Our post included the year, make, and model, a section for the car’s features, a section where I listed what was replaced and when, the quick history of the car (including how the wheel well was damaged), and 12 pictures.  I included my first name and cell phone number.  I made sure to fill out all of the info from the drop down menus that Craigslist has too so my car would be found in related searches.

6.  Test Drives

I had one test drive on Thursday from my Wednesday ad that didn’t go anywhere since the buyer’s older brother liked the car more than she did.  Then I received 4-5 interested emails and texts from my Friday ad late at night.  The young couple that agreed to see it first thing Saturday morning ended up buying it for $3400.  I let the other interested people know that it was sold.

For test drives, I would suggest taking a photo of their driver’s license and texting it your spouse or a friend.  That way you have a copy of their license AND someone knows who to report if you go missing.  I never felt unsafe with either set of test drivers, but this was super easy and seemed smart.

7.  Close the Deal

I answered every, single question anybody had.  I also was completely honest about the issues that I have had with the car, what I have had to replace, and that my mechanic suggested I get a more reliable car now that I was driving more.  I pointed out all the updated maintenance records in the owner’s manual and explained that the car would still have some dog hair in it since masking tape can only do so much.  I would suggest that if you are a chatter box like me, make sure to say your piece and then leave silences long enough for questions.  No reason to talk over people.

The couple who bought the car said that they liked my post since it was so detailed and there we no surprises when they saw the car.  Everything was as stated and I am really straight-forward.  They only had $3400 for a new-to-them car and I wasn’t going to push very hard for my happy $3500 price since I’d get to have my whole weekend to myself by 9am by wrapping up the deal AND the offer was above my $3100 minimum.  Win-win for me and them.

8.  Do the Paperwork

Since I already had printed out what we needed and filled in the car’s info in the spots that I could before hand, the paperwork process took less than 20-30 minutes.

The buyers left with:

  • a 2005 Chevy Aveo
  • a Title
  • the Title App
  • the original Bill of Sale
  • a Transit Permit

I kept:

  • the license plates
  • the registration sticker
  • the Vehicle Transfer Notification form that I then filled out and filed online
  • a copy of the signed over title
  • a copy of the Bill of Sale
  • $3400 in cash

9.  Things to Cancel

Before I sold the Chevy, I deactivated its EZ Tag for our toll roads.  Our toll road authority says on their website that I could deactivate the sticker but leave it in the car so that the buyers could reactivate it on their account.

I also called our insurance company and had the Chevy taken off of our car insurance policy.  It was liability only, so it “only” reduced our premium by $17 a month, but that helps make up for the $50 a month increase from my new car.  Old premium was $55 a month, now it’s $82 for full coverage on a 2007 Toyota Prius and a 2013 Honda Fit.

10. Deposit Your Cash

That was the best part.  :-)

In the end, I started cleaning my car at 10am on Wednesday, April 30, created the first listing at 3pm on the same day, renewed that listing and created another on Friday at 8pm, and the car drove away sold at 9:30am on Saturday, May 3.   That’s right under 72 hours from start to finish!  YAY!!!

Do you sell your own old cars or do you trade them into the dealership?  I will admit that trading them in is easier.  Did I miss anything?

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12 comments to Sold My 2005 Chevy Aveo – How to Sell a Car

  • Flat-out the best “how-to” post on selling your car ever! Thank you! :)

  • This is an awesome post! I love the detail. If I ever do sell a car, I will reference it. Good job!

  • bob

    Out of curiosity, how did you actually transact the cash? Did you accept a check (a bit risky for you) or did they bring 34 one hundred dollar bills (risky for them)? Since you had their license and signed contracts, I guess a check was safe enough. But I have to plan to do this myself in about a year, so clue us in, if you don’t mind. Thanks!

  • @William, thank you! That’s the best compliment!!!

    @Savvy, thank you too!

    @bob, it was cash. I only accept cash for Craigslist deals. If you are ever doing one for more than $5000 (or whatever amount they aren’t comfortable with), literally go with the buyers to the bank to watch the cashier’s check being printed. They are easy to fake. I just put “Cash Only” in every post so they know in advance.

  • Cleaning the car is key! Lol I remember reading a rant from Donald Trump on this topic.

  • Christie

    Crystal: You are so smart and savvy! Well done!

  • Pretty much the exact same way I went about things when I sold my Olds Alero a few years back. Congrats on the sale!

  • Great detail on selling your car! I’ve never had to sell one since I literally drive them into the ground and they usually end up towed to a junk yard for scrap parts… But should we ever need to, I will definitely be looking back at this post!

  • Oh my gosh! So cool that your buying and selling experience went comparatively easy! Great “how to” as well :-).

  • @Martin, it is so weird how often the pictures look like they completely forgot that vacuums help…

    @Christie, you are always an upper. :-)

    @Money Beagle, thanks!

    @Mom of 3, I may end up doing that one day. But the Aveo was not that car. ;-)

    @Sher, thanks!

  • I don’t plan on selling my car for a while, but I’m saving this article for when that time comes! Very helpful!

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