How to find the best on car loans for you

unduhan-25Zero percent loans-are-often advertised as one of the best deals you can get when you’re buying a new car. You’ll sometimes hear people call such financing “free money.” It’s not that exactly, but it’s as close as you’re likely to get.

Zero-percent loans tend to grab attention, but they make up only about 9 percent of the dealer-financed car loans in to date, according to Edmunds data.

Provided you can qualify for a zero-percent car loan, it sounds like a no-brainer. But is it really a good deal? Are there any catches? And if you were planning on paying cash, is it even worth considering?

How Can It Be Zero Percent?
Zero-percent loans are typically offered by automakers’ financing companies. They forgo the money they would have made on loans with interest in favor of selling more of a particular vehicle. This financing incentive can spark sales of a slow-selling vehicle or help clear out inventory to make room for cars from the new model year.

“The availability of zero-percent deals follow a pretty rigid pattern,” says Jeremy Acevedo, senior analyst for Edmunds.com. Zero-percent offers peak in the summer months to stimulate sales for the outgoing model year and stay “relatively subdued” in the other months, he says.

Carmakers advertise the no-interest loans in commercials, at dealerships or on their websites. We suggest taking a look at Edmunds’ Incentives and Rebates page. It highlights zero-percent financing offers and other promotions for the month.

Sometimes a dealership will offer its own version of zero-percent financing. In this case, the dealership opts to pay the interest on your loan, either to sweeten a deal or as an incentive for you to make a large down payment. It typically occurs when a buyer already qualifies for a loan with a low annual percentage rate (APR) and the amount being financed is a figure the dealer deems reasonable.

How To Qualify
Zero-percent loans are typically reserved for buyers with excellent credit. The fine print on automaker websites often says things like “for qualified buyers” or “based on Tier One credit.” The language doesn’t really spell out what that means in terms of FICO scores. And the range itself can vary from one automaker to another, so we suggest calling the dealership to see what the requirements are.

Just what is “Tier One” credit, for example? It’s a FICO of 690-719, according to one Washington state Toyota dealership that posted its credit tiers online. But that’s just one brand and one dealership’s numbers. According to credit services company Experian, 752 is the average credit score associated with loans that have an APR of less than 1 percent. As a general rule however, if your FICO score is above 700, you should be able to get a zero-percent loan.

If your score is slightly lower, zero-percent offers are still worth looking into. There have been cases of people getting approved because of a solid history of making payments on time and loyalty to a car brand — despite having a lower credit score.

Bonus Cash or Zero-Percent Loan?
There are times when the automaker gives consumers a choice between bonus cash or a loan with a very low interest rate. The bonus cash would usually be the way to go, but when it comes to zero-percent loans, the cash would have to be sufficient to offset the finance charges the buyer is saving.

For example, let’s say you were buying a $25,000 car with a $1,000 down payment and you’ve qualified for a loan with an interest rate of 3.5 percent. You then have a choice: a bonus cash incentive or a zero-percent loan with no additional discount. It would take an incentive of about $2,500 to beat the zero-percent loan offer. Any amount of bonus cash less than $2,500 makes the zero-percent loan the better option. Use thiscalculator to input your own scenarios and see what option works best for you.

There’s also a third option to consider. Increasingly, consumers are taking the bonus cash and then refinancing the interest-bearing loan at a lower rate later, says Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive finance for Experian.

What’s in It for a Cash Buyer?
If you planned on buying a car for cash, there might still be some value in taking out a zero-percent loan. The biggest benefit is that it allows you to keep your money free for other purposes, such as an emergency fund or for investment. There is no penalty for paying off the loan early. Having financed a car appears as a positive mark on your credit report. Buying for cash doesn’t show up at all.

In some cases, the dealerships may be getting an incentive from the automaker to promote a zero-percent loan, so taking the dealer’s financing may help you obtain a better price on the vehicle. The automaker typically pays the dealership a bonus on the back end of the deal, which in turn would allow it to be more flexible with the price. It isn’t a common occurrence, but something you should be aware of in case it comes up.

Good at driving tips

For this story, Edmunds.com asked bicycling advocates, bicycling-accident attorneys and other experts to give their recommendations on how drivers can coexist more peacefully with bicyclists. In a companion story, we outline bicyclists’ responsibilities. But for you drivers, here are our 10 rules of the road for driving near bicyclists.

1. Appreciate Bicyclist Vulnerability: A car weighs 2 tons or so, while the average bike is a mere 20 pounds, says Tim Blumenthal, president of People for Bikes, an advocacy group.

“In any collision, any physical interaction between car and bike, the bike always loses,” he says. “I’ve never seen a collision where the bike rider came out less injured,” he says.

Gary Brustin, a bicycle accident attorney in Santa Monica and San Jose, California, says he has seen the severity of the injuries to cyclists increase in recent years. Among the factors driving the increase, he suspects, are older riders, including baby boomers, whose bones may be more fragile than those of younger riders. An increase in high-speed roads with bike lanes also contributes to the rise, he says.

2. Know Bicyclists’ Rights: Drivers sometimes have little idea of the traffic laws that apply to bicyclists. A recent visitor to a message board discussing cyclists and motorists wanted to know why cyclists can’t just use the sidewalks.

In fact, bicycles in the roadway are considered vehicles. NHTSA says cyclists 10 years and older should behave as though they were vehicles on the street, riding in the same direction as other traffic that’s going their way and following the same traffic rules.

The cyclists, then, are on the same level as motorists. Information on the California DMV Web site spells out the law in the Golden State: “Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations.”

The site encourages drivers to ”look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right of way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.”

Nearly every state has similar language covering bicyclists, says Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists.

3. Adjust That Attitude: Motorists tend to think of cyclists as ”in their way,” Clarke says. Rather, they should think of them as equals, just as entitled to the roadway as drivers are, says Clarke and other experts in the cycling community.

Drivers who get impatient with bicyclists might want to stop for a moment and think about the human being on that bike, says Bob Mionske, a Portland cycling attorney and cyclist: What if that rider was my friend, a friend of a friend, or a neighbor? Somehow, seeing bicyclists that way makes people a little more patient, he says. When drivers don’t humanize cyclists this way, he finds, they often perceive riders as mere objects.

If you can pinpoint the moment when a bicyclist is starting to irritate you — because you can’t see where he is going or because he’s moving slowly and is making you late — picture him as a family member or friend. That might calm you down, Mionske says.

4. Consider the Benefits of Bicycling — for Drivers: “One cyclist on the road is one less car,” Mionske says. Cyclists don’t wear out the road, he adds (which means fewer potholes for you). “We lessen traffic congestion,” he says. “We can’t pollute.”

So if you’re idling in your car behind a cyclist who you wish would go faster, think of it this way, Mionske says: “Well, he might be in my way temporarily. At least he is not in a vehicle and in my way the whole commute.”

Easy Lease a Car Tips

If you’re new to leasing, you probably have some questions about how it works. This overview is meant to explain the basics, including the answers to these questions:

  • What is a lease?
  • Why do people lease?
  • What key numbers do I need to know if I’m going to lease?
  • How can I quickly determine if I’m getting a good deal?

This article won’t cover all aspects of leasing, but it should be enough information to get you started. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, we’ve got 10 Steps to Leasing a New Car, a comparison of leasing, buying a new car and buying a used car and a deep dive into calculating your own lease payment

What Is a Lease?
Some people think a car lease is nothing more than a long-term car rental. And although that isn’t a completely accurate comparison, it is good enough: A lessee (you) pays money to the lessor (the bank, which is the actual owner) to use the car.

The agreement is set for a certain length of time, usually two or three years. During this time, you’re allowed to drive the car for a set number of miles, usually between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year. You can raise those limits, but more miles mean a higher monthly payment.

Your use of the car and the miles you’ll drive will reduce the car’s value. Your lease pays for that depreciation. You also pay lease fees and taxes.

Here is an example, based on a new car with a $20,000 price tag. Let’s say this car is projected to be worth 60 percent of its original value after it is 3 years old and has been driven 36,000 miles. In that time, it would have depreciated 40 percent, or $8,000. So through the lease, you are paying for that $8,000 of lost value, plus lease fees and taxes, spread out over the 36 months you’d have the car.

You’re expected to return the car in pretty good shape when the lease is up. If you return the car with damage (known as “excessive wear and tear” in lease-speak) expect to be charged for it. If you drive more than the allowed miles, expect to be charged for that, too.

Why Do People Lease Cars?
Here are some popular reasons:

    • It’s less expensive: With the rising retail price of many of today’s cars, leasing is often the least expensive way to get a new vehicle. Leases tend to require lower down payments and lower monthly payments than car purchases. A lease is also a great way to get a nicer new car for less money than you’d have to pay to buy it.

    • There’s a lower cost of maintenance: Leases typically end before cars require major service or new tires, so maintenance costs are usually low. Leased vehicles are almost always under the original factory warranty, so owners don’t have to worry about the costs of repairs — as long as they are problems covered by the warranty.

  • You can have a new car every few years: Some people always want to be in the latest and greatest new car. Leases, typically for three years, offer a faster turnaround time than the standard purchase cycle, which is about six years. Leases are also easier to exit, once the lease term is complete. Assuming there are no over-mileage or excessive-damage charges, you can drop off the leased car and move on to whatever is next — which probably is another lease. This is a lot easier than buying a car with a long loan period, and tiring of the car before the loan is paid off — especially if you owe more on the car than what it is worth. That’s called being “upside down,” and it’s no fun.

What Key Numbers Do I Need to Know if I’m Leasing?
There are five:

1. Sale price: Your lease payment is based in part on the sale price of the car. Just like when you buy a car, the lower the sale price, the lower the lease payment. To make sure you’re getting a fair sale price, check out Edmunds average price paid, also known as True Market Value (TMV®). This tool tells you what other people are paying for the same car.

2. Residual percentage and amount: The residual value of the car is expressed as a percentage, and it’s an important part of your deal. The higher the residual percentage, the lower the amount of depreciation you have to pay. In other words, a high residual percentage should net you a lower monthly payment. The residual is also the amount you would pay the bank if you decided you wanted to purchase your leased car at the end of the term.

3. Allotted miles and the over mileage charge: When you sign your lease, you’re allowed to drive a certain number of miles annually. If you exceed that, you’ll be charged a fee, usually assessed in cents per mile. They can be high: from 15 to 25 cents per mile. If you think you’re going to go over the mileage limit, you can add extra miles when you sign your lease agreement for a small increase in payment. This will likely be cheaper than paying the overage later. If you do go over your miles but you’ve decided to buy the car when the lease is over, you will not be charged for going over the allotted miles.

Car Shopping Will be More Easy

You’ve done a ton of online research and you know the car you want (and need) for carpooling, grocery shopping and weekend family fun.

Now-you’re-just about ready to head over to the dealership to test drive and possibly buy that perfect car. Before you hand over your hard earned money, we have 25 quick shopping tips to make family car buying easier than you could have imagined.

Before Heading Out to the Dealership

1. Yes, it’s exciting to be on the verge of buying a new car. But don’t just rush off to the dealership expecting the vehicle you saw online will be in stock, ready for a test-drive and purchase. It might not be there, even if the dealership’s website says it is. That’s because online inventories can lag behind what’s actually on the lot. Call the dealership first to make sure the vehicle is indeed still for sale.

2. Will you have your kids with you? If so, tell the salesperson when you plan to arrive, and ask him to have the car up front ready for a demonstration and test drive. Some dealerships have massive inventory lots, and they are often off-site. You don’t want to wait a half-hour to have the right vehicle pulled up from one of these lots, especially if you have bored kids in tow.

3. If your schedule allows, do your in person shopping on a weekday. It’s not as busy and you’ll get more personal time with the vehicle to check out the features, from engine to infotainment system. When you’re buying a car for the whole family to enjoy, it’s worth taking extra time to look things over.

4. If possible, have the whole crew come along. You’ll want them to try out the car in which they’ll spend hours over the next few years. Maybe it’s the one that will become their first car.

5. Remember to bring along your research, whether on paper or on your smartphone. And just in case you do buy that very day, remember to bring your driver’s license, proof of insurance and approved car loan from your bank or credit union. (Pre-approval is a good idea. If the dealer can improve on the terms, so much the better.)

At the Dealership

6. Some people buy cars purely online, as though they were washing machines or refrigerators. They come to the dealership only to handle final paperwork and drive off. Don’t be that shopper. Do check out the new car in person, even if it’s a model you’ve owned before. Cars change, and the features in a previous car might not be the same in the new one. Have your salesperson give you a thorough demonstration and then take the family-mobile out for a test-drive. Put it through its paces. Make sure it’s right for everyone, not just you.

7. Do a fit test. Check out the cargo area with seating positions set the way you’d expect them to be during daily driving. Will everybody fit? What about the dog? Is there room in the back to carry sports and school gear while all the kids are aboard?

8. While you’re checking out your potential new family vehicle, consider what it will take to get your crew in and out, especially if you plan to move youngsters or grandparents. Not everybody can easily climb in the back of a tall SUV.

9. If you’re buying a vehicle with three rows of seating, pay close attention to seating position of the second row, and how it affects the one behind it. That third row can be a challenge to get into, depending on how the seats are set up in the second row.

Something to say that you should say it on your car salesman

You never get a second chance at a first impression. I must have heard that adage a million times during the 12 years that I sold cars.

And it’s true: If done well, the first impression a salesperson gives a customer can go a long way toward setting her at ease. A bad first impression, though, can set the stage for a bad few hours for all involved.

But what about the first impression the shopper gives the salesperson? Many buyers don’t know (or don’t think) that the first impression they give the salesperson is valuable, too. Those first several minutes can determine the flow of a deal and either get the salesperson on your side or relegate him to the role of a guy who’s merely trying to sell you a car. And here is a car-business insider tip: You always want the salesperson on your side. A salesperson on your side might mean a few extra bucks off the deal, time shaved off the paperwork process or an extra-clean car when it comes out of the wash.

As a former car salesperson, I have a few suggestions for things a shopper can say to make a deal easier and let the salesperson know exactly where you stand: all for your benefit.

For starters, I always suggest that shoppers begin by smiling and being friendly, regardless of whatever bad sales experiences they may have had in the past. After that, here are 10 things you can say to get your deal moving quickly and flowing smoothly:

1.”I plan to get my new car this weekend.”
When you contact the dealership, be sure to tell the salesperson that you’re ready to buy now (some people don’t do this, for whatever reason). If you are frank about being ready to buy, you go from being an average sales lead to a hot prospect. A hot prospect is incredibly attractive to car salespeople, and being one will get you faster, more enthusiastic service and better deal offers. Conversely, if you’re not planning to buy your new car for several months, tell the salesperson that, too. You may not want a lot of immediate follow-up from the dealership if you’re not yet ready to pull the trigger. Telling the dealer you’re six months away from a purchase will slow down the follow-up calls and emails.

2. “I’m calling to confirm my test-drive appointment this evening.”
Here is a car business truth: Many customers who set appointments to test-drive a car or see a vehicle in a particular color simply never show up. After a few years of being stood up by customers, a salesperson who isn’t confident his 7 p.m. appointment is actually coming may not take the extra steps to make the appointment easier. He might skip things like getting the car out of storage and having it rinsed off or gassed up ahead of time. In such cases, the shopper who keeps the appointment might have to wait while the salesperson handles the things that could have been handled earlier. Calling to confirm your appointment can save you some serious wait time.

There’s another reason this confirmation call works to your benefit: Your salesperson may use the call to suggest things you can do to speed up the visit while you’re there. This includes such things as paperwork to bring along and maybe even where to park on the lot. Another pro tip: If you’re looking to see a specific car, this is a good time to verify it is in stock and ready to go.

3. “I have a trade-in, and I’d like to have it appraised as soon as possible.”
Getting a trade-in appraised can take time. Moving that process up earlier in the deal-making can speed things along. It also lets the salesperson know that it’s very important to you to get a good trade-in value. If it turns out you and the dealership are thousands of dollars apart on the trade-in value, the earlier you know that, the better.

4. “If you make me a great deal, I’m ready to buy right now.”
If you’re ready to buy on the spot (assuming you get the right deal), say so. Very few things fire up salespeople more than knowing they’re in front of buyers who are ready to do immediate business. In addition to getting the salesperson’s attention, that simple buy-right-now statement can move you from being a looky-loo to being a priority customer in the eyes of management.

5. “I want the cheapest car that will get the job done. Here are the features I need.”
Here’s a fact about car shoppers: Some people buy cars because they love what they are about to purchase; others buy cars because they need to fulfill a purpose. A salesperson won’t know which buyer you are right off the bat. If you’re the latter, buying a car the way you’d buy a refrigerator, tell your salesperson that. He or she may be able to suggest a vehicle that works just as well for your needs as the one you’ve picked out, but can save you cash along the way. Perhaps it’s a holdout from the previous model year. Or maybe it’s an unpopular color that can net you a nice savings. If you’re flexible on brand and model, your salesperson might be able to save you a few hundred bucks.

Fast Sell Your Car Tips

unduhan-26Selling your car today is a different experience than it was 10 or 15 years ago, thanks to the tools available on the Internet. Online appraisal tools and Internet classified ads have made the process faster and more convenient.

Edmunds.com has an in-depth 10-step guide to selling your car, but this article condenses the selling process into five simple steps that can help you turn your used car into cash in the shortest time possible. You can also print out this article and use it as a checklist to keep you on track.

1. Research and Price Your Car
Picking the right asking price can mean the difference between getting multiple calls right off the bat and having your phone not ring at all. In order to come up with an effective asking price, you’ll first need to find out what the car is worth and how much other people are asking for similar cars. The Edmunds used carsection has an appraisal tool that you can use to get a True Market Value (TMV®) private-party price. This figure is adjusted for a number of factors including mileage, condition, options and the region in which the car is being sold.

Next, search for vehicles similar to yours at online classified sites such as AutoTrader.com, Craigslist andeBay Classifieds. This will give you a better idea of the price range for your particular model and whether the number you had in your head is in the ballpark. Then, use the same technique you see at department stores to price your car competitively. In other words, if you’re thinking of a $20,000 asking price, list the car at $19,900. Finally, be sure to leave a little wiggle room when setting the price. Ask for more than what you actually want to get for the car and keep in mind that people tend to negotiate in big chunks ($500-$1,000) rather than small increments ($100-$200). Set your price accordingly.

An alternate method would be to take your car to CarMax for an appraisal. CarMax’s offer is good for seven days and you can use its estimate as a baseline for your asking price. Or if you’re comfortable with the offer, you can accept it and save yourself the rest of the steps.

2. Advertise Your Car
AutoTrader.com is one of the more commonly used sites, but it charges a fee to list your car. You can save a few bucks by advertising for free on eBay Classifieds or Craigslist. Or you can cast the widest net by having both an AutoTrader.com ad and a free classified ad. If you deal with Craigslist, we suggest you take a look at its tips to avoid scams. It is also good advice for any online classifieds site.

You should consider other ways of advertising, such as posting a “For Sale” sign in the car’s window. This tried-and-true technique can still yield results. It’s also common these days to use Facebook or Twitter to let your friends know you are selling your car.

When you post your ad online, make sure you upload plenty of photos of the car from all angles. As you write the description, make sure to mention if the car has any scratches, dents or mechanical issues. Follow the steps in this article if you need help with the photos. You can also use a few key phrases to communicate how eager you are to sell the car. “OBO” (“or best offer”) indicates that you are willing to entertain offers below the stated price. “Asking price” communicates the feeling that you will negotiate. “Firm” is less common, but it indicates that you aren’t in a hurry to sell the car — you are most interested in getting your price.

You can also upload a video of the car to YouTube so potential buyers can do a virtual walk-around of the car. Include a link in your Craigslist or eBay listing (AutoTrader doesn’t permit links, unfortunately).

Another alternative is online peer-to-peer car selling and buying, including such companies as Beepi, Carvana, Tred and Zipflip. Each operates a little differently, so check the sites for details of their policies and services for sellers and buyers.

3. Show Your Car
If you’ve done all the previous steps, you should receive a number of calls about the car. Now someone wants to see it in person. Bear in mind that when you sell your car, people will not only be evaluating the car, but also the person who owns it. Buyers will feel more comfortable if they know you took good care of the car and answer their questions openly. Make sure the car has been washed and that you’ve removed all your belongings from the inside. It is also a good idea to have your maintenance records ready to show interested parties.

Potential buyers will want to test-drive the car. Ride along with them so you can answer questions. Some buyers will want to take the car to a mechanic to have it inspected. If you have a report from your mechanic, this might put their doubts to rest. But if they still want to take the car to their mechanic, this is a reasonable request.

Car On Safely Sell Tips

A man who listed his car for sale on Craigslist is killed by a man who wanted to strip the turbocharger and other parts from the vehicle.

A New York man lists his BMW online, only to be stabbed and stuffed into thecar’s trunk by an ex-con who arranged a meeting on the pretext of buying the vehicle.

Although such stories show the potential danger of private-party used-car sales, don’t let these extreme cases deter you. You can safely sell your used car and maximize its valu by taking the right preventive measures.

Craigslist, one of several sites that facilitate private-party car sales, says that its buyers and sellers complete billions of transactions with an “extremely low” incidence of violent crime. Still, selling your car does put you at risk of fraud, scams, robbery and possible personal attacks.

The safety advice in this article comes from the police and my own personal experience selling more than 50 cars from Edmunds’ long-term test fleet. There’s also another very knowledgeable but less obvious source ofgood tips: real-estate agents. They often meet strangers to arrange a sale and sometimes the transactions put them in vulnerable positions. Just like private-party car sellers.

The Big 4 Tips for Car-Selling Safety
1. Vet callers thoroughly. When Steve Goddard, former president of the California Association of Realtors, takes a call from someone he’s never met, he makes sure the caller is serious about buying a property and isn’t trying to lure him into a trap to rob him. “I ask them lots of questions about what they are looking for and what their needs are,” he says. “The more I engage them in conversation, the more you get a feel for them.”

2. Don’t go to a meeting alone. It’s that simple, says Rico Fernandez, a sergeant with the Long Beach Police Department in California. “Take someone with you. People are less apt to harm you if there is someone else there.”

3. Meet in a public place. Goddard says that when he meets someone for the first time, he does so at his office. While you can’t do that when you’re selling a car, you can arrange to meet would-be buyers in a public place, such as a shopping mall parking lot.

4. Trust your gut. Qualifying callers is a combination of intuition and experience, Goddard says. And if you’re not comfortable meeting with strangers under any circumstances, you should turn the sale over to an auto broker or trade in the vehicle. You’ll have to accept that you might not get the best deal, but peace of mind is priceless. So is your life.

Screening 101
If you do a good job screening buyers before you meet them face-to-face, selling your car will go much more smoothly. Listing your car on Craigslist or Autotrader.com will bring e-mails, text messages and calls from interested parties. Use your intuition to spot anything suspicious about these prospective buyers:

  • Don’t be overly eager for a sale or you might miss a warning sign. If a caller seems suspicious to you, simply hang up.
  • Only schedule a test-drive with serious buyers you are able to reach by phone. Invite questions when you talk with them. This prevents you from having to show the car to someone who isn’t really interested, or someone you’d rather not deal with. If the caller doesn’t seem to know what to ask, volunteer the basics about the car: year, make, model, color, number of doors, number of miles on the car and its key features.
  • Beware of professional buyers who just want to “flip” cars, which means reselling them quickly at a profit. Flippers bargain aggressively. You can usually identify these callers because they quickly want to get to your lowest selling price. If you have doubts, ask them if they’re buying to resell. While flippers might not pose a hazard to your personal safety, it’s better to avoid dealing with them.
  • Ask who is coming on the test-drive. Evasive answers might indicate that the caller is setting up a trap.
  • Tell the caller you will want to see a driver license before the test-drive. This might discourage anyone with criminal intentions from going any further.

The Right Price For Sell Your Car Tips

Setting the right price for a used car is almost an art a blend of research and intuition.

Set the right price and you will quickly get the full value of your car. Set it the wrong way and you’ll wait weeks for a call or e-mail from a buyer.

Your goal is to list your car at a competitive price, but one that’s on the high end of the price range. This allows you room to negotiate and still wind up with a good chunk of change. So decide where you want to close the deal and work backward from there.

Say you want to sell your car for $5,000. You should list it at about $5,750. With more expensive cars, you need to leave more room, so to get $15,000, you should list the car at $16,500.

There are plenty of tools and resources for finding the sweet spot for pricing your used car. Here’s a step-by-step guide to this important process.

1. Consider the market. Is your car in demand? Can you ask for top dollar? Is this the right time to sell it? Here are a few general rules to help you answer these questions.

  • Family sedans, while boring to many car enthusiasts, are in constant demand by people who need basic, inexpensive transportation.
  • Getting a good price for a convertible or sports car depends on the season in which you sell it. Sunny, summerlike weather brings out the buyers. If you sell in the fall and winter, prepare for the process to take longer.
  • Trucks and vans, which people often use for work, sell quickly and command competitive prices. Don’t underestimate their value.
  • Collector cars take longer to sell and are tricky to price. However, these cars can bring good sale prices — if you find the right buyer.

Take into account any other market conditions that might have an impact on your car. For example, if your car gets good fuel economy and gas prices are high, you will be able to ask more for it than when gas is cheap. Similarly, selling a supersize SUV for top dollar is going to be tough if gas prices are sky high.

2. Check the Pricing Guides. Use Edmunds.com True Market Value (TMV®) pricing to determine the fair value of your car. TMV prices are adjusted for mileage, color, options, condition and even region of the country. Keep in mind that TMV is a transaction price — not an asking price. It’s where you want to wind upafter negotiations. And don’t forget to take a look at other pricing guides for comparison sake.

3. Survey your competition. Review classified ads on such Web sites as Auto Trader, Craigslist and eBay Motors to see the asking prices for other cars like yours. Most sites offer advanced searches to find close matches to your vehicle. But keep in mind that these are asking prices, not selling prices, and might just be wishful thinking by the seller. Compare the cars’ condition, mileage, geographic location and asking price to your vehicle to guide you in setting the right price.

4. Price your car competitively. As mentioned earlier, be sure to leave wiggle room for negotiations. Ask for slightly more money than you expect. If you get your asking price, that’s great. But if you have to go lower, it won’t be a terrible loss.

Also consider the psychological aspects of car pricing by staying just below benchmark numbers such as $10,000 (price it at $9,900) or $20,000 (price it at $19,900). Car dealers take this philosophy to an extreme by listing everything on their lots with a price that ends in “999” ($12,999, for example; apparently, we shoppers are not supposed to notice that the car basically costs $13,000). Still, this tactic demonstrates the psychology of setting prices. A product that doesn’t sell well at $20 might jump off the shelf at $19.95.

As a private-party seller, however, you don’t want to look like a car dealer. Therefore, you might want to take a simplified approach and set your price at round figures such as $12,750 or $12,500.

5. Tap your intuition. Once you have considered all the hard data, it’s time to consult your intuition. Perhaps you have a hunch that your car is desirable, or that the time is right for you to ask a certain price. As you do this gut check, remember that it’s always a good idea to err on the side of a higher asking price. If necessary, you can lower the price until you get callers. On the other hand, if you err on the low side, you’ll sell it quickly but won’t get the car’s full value.

Buying and Selling Car Tips

Just like Sweet 16 or the Big 4-Oh, a used car has significant turning points in its lifetime. In the case of a used car, these aren’t birthdays but instead mileage milestones, and they can affect the car’s value.

If you’re planning to sell or trade in your car soon, keep your eye on the odometer and sell before hitting these significant mileage points. If you’re buying a used car, you should also know about these milestones and understand that extensive maintenance may soon be due or should have been done already.

While the mileage always affects the price of a used car, and is factored into the Edmunds.com True Market Value (TMV®) appraisal tool, three mileage markers have a greater impact on a used car’s price. Here’s the breakdown.

First Turning Point: 30,000-40,000 Miles
Most cars come with a bumper-to-bumper factory warranty that expires at either 36,000 miles or three years, whichever comes first. This is the point at which many cars are returned to the dealer from the first “owner,” meaning the person who leased the car.

In addition, a car’s first major service visit usually comes in the range of 30,000-40,000 miles. This is when the carmaker calls for more than just an oil change and tire rotation, and it’s not uncommon for this major service to cost more than $350. In addition, certain “wear items” may soon need service. Wear items are things such as brakes and tires that are expected to wear out, as opposed to things that break and need to be repaired.

With this in mind, anyone getting ready to sell a car would want to put it up for sale a few thousand miles before the 36,000-mile mark or before the major service visit. Anyone shopping for used cars in this range should check that the required maintenance has been done. A savvy buyer could use the fact that the service hasn’t been done yet as a bargaining chip to make a lower opening offer.

To find out more about the major service visits for different cars, check the Edmunds.com Maintenance Guide.

Second Turning Point: 60,000-70,000 Miles
The second major service visit is sometimes even more expensive than the first. This is particularly true of cars that have timing belts, which coordinate the turning of the pistons and the camshaft. If this belt is not changed, it will eventually snap and could cause engine damage. This service item alone costs at least $300.

By the time a car has 60,000 miles it will almost certainly need tires and brakes, although more modern cars are going farther with less maintenance. Still, a seller can save money by selling or trading in a car well before this work is required. Edmunds’ article, “Fix Up or Trade Up,” can help guide the decision.

A buyer shopping for a good used car should look up the major service visits for the specific make and model and make sure the work has been done on the car under consideration. Also, buyers should check tires and brakes and use the information on their condition when negotiating the price.

Third Turning Point: 100,000 Miles
Twenty years ago, if a car had 100,000 miles on it, it was likely to be running on borrowed time. But cars are becoming more reliable and long-lived, so today’s 100,000-mile car is likely still in its prime. Perceptions haven’t kept pace with engineering, however, and at the 100,000-mile mark, there is a significant drop in a car’s value. For example, CarMax, the used-car store, will buy cars with 100,000 miles on them, but it won’t resell them to consumers. It will send them to used-car auctions, where other dealers might buy them at deeply discounted prices.

With this information in mind, consider selling your car while it still has fewer than 95,000 miles on it. By doing so, shoppers using online sites will find your car if they set mileage limits below the dreaded 100,000-mile mark.

How to take your auto pictures for sale

Many people who have browsed online private party listings for used cars have run into this. A car catches your attention. You click on the link to see more photos, but there is only one image, with the car not fully in the frame. Or worse, there are a number of photos, but they are blurry and were taken at night with a low-quality cell phone camera.

Poor photos make your car less appealing to a buyer, prolong the selling process and lead to customers who aren’t exactly sure what they’re getting. You don’t have to be an expert photographer to create an effective used-car listing. You just need to know what to focus on and when to take the picture. The following tips will show you how to photograph your car, which creates a better used car listing and in turn sells your car much more quickly.

There are two important points we need to make before you even start. First, wash the car. Make sure it’s nice and clean, and the wheels and tires are shiny. And second, roll up the windows. It gives the car a smooth, solid look.

Use the Right Camera
These days, the most convenient option is to pull a smartphone out of your pocket and use it to take photos of your car. And if you’ve purchased a smartphone in the last few years, it should suffice. But we all know someone who has held onto a phone for way too long. Grainy photos shot on an iPhone 3G or old Blackberry aren’t going to cut it. Instead, use a point-and-shoot digital camera, even if it is a few years old. The image will be superior to any taken on an old cell phone.

The Golden Hour
Where and when you take your photos can make all the difference in your shots. Don’t go out on your lunch break and snap photos of the car in a parking lot. The light is too harsh at midday and your photos will look washed out. Similarly, don’t take photos at night, because a camera’s flash is a poor substitute for the sun.

In photography, the “golden hour” is when the sun rises and when it is about to set. Photos taken at this time are less likely to be overexposed, and the light has a warm look that enhances the colors in the photo. TheGolden Hour Calculator can help you determine the perfect time in your area. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to take photos during the golden hour, your best bet is between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Cloudy mornings work well, too.

The location of your photo shoot can also help the car stand out among the crowded online listings. Try to find an isolated location or parking lot. This allows your car to be the focal point in the photos. The Edmunds offices are a few miles from the beach, so we often use it as a location. If you are landlocked, a nearby park is a good choice. In a pinch an empty parking lot will suffice.

Quantity and Variety
The more photos your listing has, the more likely it is that your car will sell. If the online listing is free, upload the maximum number of photos the site allows. With sites that charge for listings, it’s worth the extra cost to have more photos in the ad. You don’t have to spring for the top package, either. Something that gives you about 10 photos should be sufficient.

Take photos of the car at eye level. There’s no need to get creative with fancy high and low angles. Start out in front of the car and make your way around it, snapping a photo from every angle. You may not use them all in the ad, but you can sort that out later.

Make sure you get the basic car-selling angles covered. This includes the front, back, side profile and wheels. Turn the wheels left slightly so that you can take a photo of the tire tread. Finally, open up the hood and take a photo of the engine.

Inside the car, make sure you take a photo of the seats, paying close attention to the driver seat, which tends to get more wear. Sit in the back of the car and recline the front seats to take photos of the front section of the interior. You’ll want to show the stereo and instrument cluster, the shifter (to show whether the car is an automatic or manual) and the condition of the steering wheel. Be sure to snap a photo of the odometer so that prospective buyers can see that the mileage reading shown is consistent with what you have said in your ad.

If your car has any special selling points or features (for example if it’s a convertible), show them. Photograph it with the top both up and down. If it’s a big SUV with folding seats, fold them down to show off the storage space.