More than 40 million used cars were sold last year, a record in the United States. Used vehicle prices have also risen, and with the shortage of microchips, experts don’t expect things to slow down any time soon.

But if you want to get as much money as possible for your “previously beloved” vehicle, you can’t just park it in the front yard with a “for sale” sign on the windshield. You will have to do your homework.

In addition to finding the right buyer, use the tips below to get the most money possible for the car you plan to sell.

Avoid selling to a dealership

Have you considered trading in your current vehicle for a new one at a local dealership? If so, rethink that decision.

It’s a fact that you can earn a lot more on your used vehicle when you sell it privately (i.e. for sale by owner).

Dealerships must make money on used vehicles they accept on trade-in. For this reason, they buy low and sell high. Therefore, they will offer as little money as possible for your used vehicle. Since a dealer also negotiates every day (and you probably don’t), they will be much more effective at convincing you that they have made a good offer.

While there may be exceptions to this, especially if you have a newer vehicle that has just been leased, it’s worth noting that dealerships are handy. For this reason, you will not get the best price for your used car.

Provide evidence of ongoing preventative maintenance and upkeep

If you want to get the most out of your vehicle when you’re ready to sell, you need to make sure it’s well maintained. This means investing in preventive maintenance.

You must invest in these services and provide a potential buyer with proof of maintenance and service. Some of the types of preventative maintenance you should witness include:

Oil changes

The engine oil in your vehicle keeps the engine running smoothly. This is done by lubricating all moving parts. The protective barrier also helps regulate engine temperature while preventing corrosion, which can cause costly and dangerous damage that can show up on the vehicle history report when you’re ready to sell.

Routine maintenance

It is necessary to maintain other parts of the vehicle, such as spark plugs, brake pads and air filters. All of these are essential to extending the life of your vehicle. Although the parts may seem small and unimportant, you should never underestimate their role in the health and efficiency of your vehicle.

keep it clean

Although it may not seem important, keeping your vehicle clean will help secure the resale value of the car. Try taking your vehicle through a no-touch car wash to prevent discoloration and rust.

Drive carefully

It may seem obvious, but it will reduce its value if your vehicle is involved in an accident. Even if you invest in repairs, cars repaired after an accident are considered a “red flag” on your vehicle history report.

Even in situations where the exterior looks good, the buyer has no way of knowing the residual or long-term effects of the accident. For this reason, they may look elsewhere to make a purchase.

Gather the necessary documents

If you plan to sell your vehicle, you must provide the buyer with specific documents. Be sure to gather all of the documents listed below to ensure the sale goes smoothly.

The title

The title of your vehicle indicates that you are the legal owner. You must sign the title to a new owner after the sale. If you are still making payments on your car loan, the lender will hold title. It is necessary to pay the loan balance in full before transferring the title to the buyer.

A deed of sale

Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles may require you to complete a deed of sale when you sell your car. You can probably download the form from the website. Be sure to check the website if your state requires other documents.

Repair and maintenance records

A potential buyer will want proof that your vehicle was well maintained while you owned it.

Prepare your vehicle for sale

It doesn’t matter if you plan to sell your car in San Jose, California to a cash buyer, dealership, or private buyer, visual appeal is important. Just like your home, the curb appeal of your vehicle is important. If you want to get the most money for your used car, you need to clean it up and take quality interior and exterior photos.

Be sure to prep the vehicle to ensure you can capture great shots from all angles, including up-close shots of all the details and features it offers.

We recommend that you wait to take the photos on a bright day when optimal lighting is present. Instead, consider going somewhere with a nice vibe, like above a parking lot with the skyline behind the vehicle. Make sure to eliminate all distractions, such as other vehicles or trash from the shooting range.

Having quality photos of a clean car will help you get more attention and can help you get a better deal.

Determine your asking price

If you want to set a reasonable price for your vehicle, you need an appraisal estimate. But, again, it is possible to acquire this information by visiting online sites.

To determine an accurate rating, be sure to provide vehicle information including model, make, mileage, optional features and equipment, and current condition. Then, depending on where you search for the appraisal, you may receive the estimated trade-in value for your zip code. You can also receive the value of the vehicle for a private sale.

You will almost immediately discover the price disparity of a trade-in with a dealer versus a private sale. Use the numbers as an estimate or guide to determining the asking price for your vehicle. Calculate a price about 20% more than you are willing to accept based on your car’s valuation.

Ensure transparency

It is essential to ensure that the vehicle description you write is honest and accurate. You may even want to provide potential buyers with a copy of your vehicle history report.

It doesn’t matter if you’re sharing in person or online; offering as much information as you can provide to vehicle buyers, the certainty that you are not trying to hide a problem or defect. Transparency will also create this essential foundation of trust. Ultimately, this will bring you closer to your original asking price.

Advertise your vehicle

It would help to leave the potential buyers know that you are selling your vehicle. If you plan to sell through a dealership (not recommended for the most money), be sure to get quotes or offers from multiple dealerships. This will help you get the best price.

You will offer basic vehicle information including condition and mileage. You will also need to go to the used car park (in some cases), so the sellers can inspect the car you want to sell.

If your goal is to sell to an individual, it is necessary to create an ad. You can post the ad anywhere; just be honest when writing the description. Include as much information as possible. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer and think about what you would like to know.

Take high quality photos of the vehicle from different angles and make sure you capture the footage at the right time of day. When posting your listing, consider using a dedicated phone number or email address to protect your privacy. It will also make it easier for you to ensure that you respond to every potential buyer who asks a question or asks to see the vehicle.

Are you ready to sell your vehicle?

If you want to sell your vehicle for the most money possible, it’s a good idea to use the tips and information above. However, when selling a car, you need to make sure you don’t lose too much or jeopardize your financial situation.

This will earn you and give you the necessary funds to buy another vehicle, repay the debt, or do something else you needed with the funds earned from the sale. Being informed is the best way to sell your vehicle at the best price.