I'd like to sell my car outright before taking it to a dealer. Do you have any suggestions for me to get the best price? - Al Auto
Dear Mr. Auto: According to Real Simple magazine, we have only to worry about five simple steps if we wish to get perhaps the most cost-effective sale. Edmunds.com tells us we're much more likely to get the estimated value of our auto by handling the deal ourselves, rather than simply trading it in at the dealership.
• Check out Kelly Blue Book (www.kbb.com). Use its appraisal tool to see what your vehicle is worth. Then allow $1,000-$1,500 for negotiation allowance.
• Write an eye-catching ad. Check with your writer and/or design buddies ; the more compelling the ad, the more response you'll receive. Be sure to include price, make, model, and mileage. Also, detail words, such as "reliable" or "clean interior" will catch the reader's eye more quickly than ramblings. Mention where the car stayed parked, recent repairs or servicing. Use all ads at your disposal, free or otherwise.
• Prep the car. To save money, you can do this yourself with cleaning supplies and a vacuum cleaner. Remove personal items, wash and dry the exterior good and clean/vacuum the interior. Compile all service records in the (cleaned) glove compartment.
• Show the car and negotiate the price. Be sure to meet in a public place, such as a grocery store or open restaurant parking lot. It's a good idea to bring a friend along with you and, if you wish to remain behind while Mr. Prospective goes for a test ride, hang on to his credit card until he returns the vehicle.
• Finalize the sale. Check www.cars.com for a bill of sale form. Check your local and state DMV websites to check for any selling regulations. Ask for payment as a cashier's check, and verify the check with the issuing back before handing over the auto and title.
Tax Tip: The standard mileage rate for business use is now 56.5 cents -- one cent higher than in 2012.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer watch@timesfree press.com.