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Listing Your Car For Sale? A Mechanic Offers 4 Tips.

Posted by Justin Duthie on

A seasoned mechanic and car expert offers tips to creating an outstanding car listing that will help your sell your car faster.


If you would like to learn more about me hop over to my blog post “Is A Porsche Reliable?”. Here, I include my background and overview of my 14+ year career as a mechanic and car repair shop owner. As a mechanic, naturally, I have dealt with lots of used cars, and many of my customers have asked me to sell and list their cars for them. I have also purchased pre-owned cars myself to fix, flip and resell. There is an art to selling anything whether it be a car or a even apparel, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. In all cases buyers simply just want to know what they are purchasing. They want the purchase to be as advertised.

Here we’ll focus on 4 tips that will help your car listing stand out from others. You will notice a prevailing theme amongst all of my tips — be as transparent as possible. Proactively offering resources to make the buyers decision process seamless and bump free is a key to distinguishing your listing and selling your car quickly. My tips are based on the premise that you are selling a car that is both mechanically and cosmetically sound without any major issues.

There are many instances when a buyer will want to get rid of a car because it is mechanically unfit. As a mechanic I fix things, and I will always recommend repairing essential items before listing your car. However, should that not be a possibility, you can still apply these 4 tips to your listing. Your listing may not sound as pretty, but as I had mentioned earlier, transparency is key to a successful sale. You may not be able to sell it for your dream price, but with honesty you will find someone who will buy it as is. In marketing, it is a strategy to highlight the positives and deflect from the negatives. However, with a pre-owned car you don’t have to assume everything has to be perfect with your car (sometimes even new cars come with manufacturer issues, defects and on going issues). In the end, your buyer is expecting a used car. I have bought and sold used cars myself, and there is a customer for every car. For example, your car may be a near luxury to luxury brand car with a major mechanical issue, but you may still attract a buyer with the vehicle being as is. Here's why. A buyer may be willing to invest in the repairs because the car is cosmetically sound and kept up. The purchase price plus repair costs may still be a better deal than buying a new vehicle or a used vehicle that is in better mechanical shape. The lesson here is, don't assume and be transparent. It will create a more authentic, stress free and quick (remember time is money too) experience for both you as the seller and your potential buyer.

Now back to our original premise. Your car is both mechanical and cosmetically sound with no major issues (at least to your knowledge). Here’s what to include in your listing to make it more effective.


Four key pieces of information to include in your car listing.

1. Be clear about your relationship with the car you are selling.

If you are the original owner or second owner, make sure to list this. Why? If you are the first or second owner of the car, then you will most likely have a more direct relationship with the car. You will have a clearer overview and knowledge of the car’s history which includes, repairs, issues and other factors that may be pertinent to your buyer. This so-to-speak direct-relationship between you and your car will assure the buyer. They are getting first-hand information rather than information that may had been lost in translation overtime as the car switched hands. You want to assure the potential buyer that the information they are getting from you is the closest thing possible to the proverbial “horse’s mouth”. Though, in the case that you are the 3rd, 4th or even 5th owner of the car, you can still establish a knowledgeable relationship with your car by providing all service records that relate back to the first or second owner. Mentioning in your listing that you are the initial owner or that you have all the repair records from the car that go back to the beginning is a big bonus. This brings me to my next point.


2. Offer your car’s repair history.

Give the buyer a brief overview of any minor and major car repairs, and in the listing offer to give the potential buyer access to a more in depth look into the records if they wish to see them. In the listing make sure to also include all known issues and if they have been remedied. Disclosing past repairs adds value to your sale. It doesn’t add value in the sense that your car is worth more per say, but it adds value that substantiates the price your are asking. For example, if you put a new clutch in your car which is typically a $2k to $3k repair, or you installed a new IMS bearing in your Porsche which will cost you about $3k to $5k, these repairs and investments you made to keep the car road-ready and sound will boost the literal quality and perception of quality. It provides proof and reason that backs both your sales prices and creates a bar of how low you are able to and willing to negotiate.

3. You should mention the reason(s) why you are selling your vehicle.

The first question that will pop into your potential buyer’s mind will highly likely be: “why is this seller selling the car?” It’s natural to wonder. The answer to the questions or lack there of is revealing. In the case of our premise where the car is in good shape, there is not much to lose to say why you are selling it. Perhaps your reason for selling the car is that you just want a new car, your driveway is crowded with too many or you just don’t drive it enough. These are all valid and human reasons to want to move on from your vehicle. Addressing your reason to sell directly in the listing quickly assuages any lingering anxieties. Even if your car is not in OK shape and requires repairs, I recommend you be transparent and up front. Like I mentioned in my introduction, there is a buyer for every car. You may attract a buyer who finds your price acceptable, and who is willing to take on a repair project. Omission can inadvertently appear as deceptiveness later down the sales pipeline. Based on my observations, the problem will almost always reveal itself, and when that happens the outcome is rarely happy for either the seller or the buyer.

4. Having these reports in hand will give your listing bonus points and earn your listing more credibility.

Anytime I have sold a car, I have always provided an auto-check and Carfax history report no matter what it revealed. In the listing, I mention that I can provide these reports upon request. This is beneficial in two ways. First, as I keep mentioning, transparency is key. The more transparent you are the better your relationship with the potential buyer. No matter what you are selling, you will need trust which is established through transparency. Second, most savvy buyers will want to run these reports. They are costly considering that the buyer may not even end up buying your car. Then imagine if they are purchasing these reports for multiple listings they are considering. This $20-$30 dollar report can turn into a couple hundred dollars. Now, their expense is not necessarily your problem, but offering these reports breaks that barrier to entry when in comes to your listing. It is thoughtful and it will stand out in the buyer’s mind. No matter what the history reveals, by providing these reports you are saving the potential buyer additional headaches that can get in the way of them considering your car for purchase. You will also appear more transparent and trustworthy. Believe me this will go a long way; it creates a good effect.

Similarly, and for extra bonus points provide a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) report. A pre-purchase inspection is done by a dealer or repair shop and it discloses any major and minor issues the car may have. Again, its’ OK if your car has issues, but it is better the potential buyer is aware. This way you have set the prices and revealed all issues simultaneously. If you set the price and the potential buyer discovers issues during a self-initiated PPI, they will want to negotiate lower even if your price is set with the issues in mind. Not only is this helpful for both you and the potential buyer in completing a satisfactory sale on both ends, but it is also proactive. The PPI save’s the buyer the expense and headache (decreasing barriers to the potential sale) and it further establishes transparency and trust.



Listing your car for sale doesn’t have to turn into a challenge. Ultimately, your success as the seller rests on your credibility. Every buyer wants to know the real story so that they can make the best decision. It’s a human value we all share. Your effort to be transparent creates a great first impression which is key to a successful head start to selling your car.