tricks for selling a car: how to get the best price

Tricks for selling cars: How to get the best price. Used cars waiting for a buyer: with a few steps you can make your car sale fair and legally secure. (Source: imago images/Geisser)

Every year, around seven million used cars change hands in Germany, while – in normal years – only around 3.5 million new cars are sold. On average, cars on our roads are currently 9.8 years old. Anyone selling their car should therefore follow a few tips.

Polish up the car

Interested parties should not get the impression that the car has been neglected. A vehicle wash and cleaning of the interior are therefore sensible. If you repair scratches and make cosmetic repairs, you give the buyer less reason to lower the price. The correct tire pressure, oil and coolant levels contribute to a good overall impression. A full wiper water tank and properly functioning lighting are also important.

Determine the value of the car

A reasonable price can only be quoted if everything works properly. An initial orientation as to what the car is still worth is provided by an Internet search on major sales portals such as or autoscout24.en. There you can search for cars that match or are similar to your model in terms of age, equipment, mileage and engine.

Market observers such as Deutsche Automobil Treuhand (DAT) or Schwacke offer online vehicle valuations, usually for a small fee. In some cases, they take special equipment into account, but not the individual condition of the car. This can be determined, for example, by means of an individual valuation report.

Advertise the car

If you sell from private to private instead of to a dealer, you will probably get more money in comparison. However, patience is often needed until a buyer is found.

All the more important is a carefully prepared advertisement. Take good photos of the car, preferably from several angles. Damage such as dents or scratches should be documented. Mandatory is the information about the last HU. You should generally provide interested parties with a lot of details, for example on optional equipment.

Today, advertisements are mostly placed online via well-known sales portals. An advertisement in the local newspaper is another possibility. Anyone offering a collector’s vehicle can place an ad in a special magazine or post their intention to sell in suitable groups via social media.

Presenting the car correctly

When meeting with a prospective buyer, you should present all existing documents – from the registration certificates Parts I and II, i.e. the vehicle title and registration document, to the maintenance booklet and proof of past main and exhaust emission tests (AU).

As a seller, you should not conceal past damage. Expert opinions provide clarity about the extent. If you conceal significant defects that were demonstrably known to you, this can be regarded as fraudulent misrepresentation. Then the buyer can later contest the purchase contract and cancel it.

The test drive: the right way

First of all, you should ask to see the prospective buyer’s driver’s license. To avoid trouble later, document scratches and other external damage. Play it safe with an agreement that obligates prospective buyers to pay for a deductible or downgrade in car insurance if the worst happens. Corresponding sample documents are offered by the ADAC or ACE, for example.

For the test drive you should always get in, to remain master of the situation. It is ideal if another person accompanies you. Important documents such as the vehicle title should be left at home, as should any duplicate keys. If the vehicle is deregistered, short-term license plates must be attached to the car for the test drive. Here they learn everything about this special mark.

Conclusion of contract and vehicle handover

If the parties agree, a contract of sale is mandatory. Sample forms are available on the Internet from Tuv Sud, for example. With the contract you document the vehicle handover cleanly.

Especially important: Exclude the legal warranty. This is possible in private sales. Otherwise, the seller is subject to the two-year warranty obligation like a dealer – which can be expensive in case of complaints.

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You should not hand over the keys and vehicle documents until you have received the purchase price in full. It is common for the new owner to re-register the car. However, it is safer to inform the insurance company and the registration office itself that the car has been sold – preferably directly by e-mail. And it is even safer to sell the car already deregistered.

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