Spring on the Road

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How to sell a vehicle with an accident history

Selling a vehicle may seem easy, but unloading preowned vehicles may take some time. While sellers may already have their eyes on the prize — a new vehicle — the first step is selling their current vehicle at a fair price, especially for those sellers who need to finance the purchase of their next vehicle with the proceeds they earn when selling their current one.

Sellers must consider a host of factors, including potential market for the vehicle and its potential sale price, before putting their vehicles up for sale. The accident history of a vehicle is another important factor to consider. Buyers are understandably weary about purchasing vehicles that have been in an accident. Easily accessible vehicle history reports can make it even more challenging to sell a used car, but such reports don't make it impossible to unload preowned vehicles.

• Be open and honest. Hiding an accident is unethical and can haunt you down the road. It is better to be forthcoming about any accidents a vehicle might have been in. If you have documentation of the accident, such as photos and receipts for repairs, make it available to prospective buyers. If you have certification from an auto body shop or mechanic that the vehicle is in perfectly good condition and was repaired with quality, manufacturer-supplied parts, offer that information as well. The more information you provide and the more honest and forthcoming you are, the less it will seem like you're trying to hide major damage.

• Encourage a vehicle inspection. Inform the buyer that you have no qualms about him or her taking the car to a mechanic and having it thoroughly inspected. This will show your confidence in the performance of the vehicle.

• Consider a dealer trade-in. Dealer trade-ins may not earn you as much money than you would get if you were to sell the car privately, but trade-ins tend to be simpler. Dealerships have almost zero emotional attachment to vehicles and likely won't be as concerned as a private buyer about an accident on record. Some dealers farm out used cars to auctions or salvage yards. It may be worth it to take the lower price and not have the headache of unloading the car on your own.

• Be flexible on pricing. The right price will help prospective buyers overlook minor blemishes or accidents. When coupled with the truth, the right price can entice buyers to seal the deal.

Auto accidents happen. But while no one wants to get into a fender-bender, such accidents should not prevent auto owners from selling their vehicles in the future.