Posting your automobile for sale online is a great way to attract potential buyers. In step 2 of this series, titled “Sell Your Car Online: Step 2, Using Pictures of Your Automobile Correctly “, you learned how to select the right pictures of your vehicle for display in the classified ad.

The third step in placing an ad is selecting what information you want to use in your listing. Most auto classified web sites have information fields that are either checkboxes or blank textboxes for short answers. Here’s the danger. If you don’t give enough information, you may lose potential buyers. They may think that the missing information is an attempt to hide what’s wrong with your car or truck. The solution is to answer ALL information fields that are applicable to your vehicle.

So, what type of information do you display with your listing? The most important information that must be included in your listing is: make, model, year, mileage, engine type, and transmission type. When searching for a car or truck to buy, especially a used car or truck, this is the information that the potential buyer must know before taking the next step, contacting the seller. This information will determine whether the buyer is even interested in the vehicle to begin with.

Secondary information which should be included in your listing is: body style, drive train, and VIN number. You should always include the body style (2dr, 4dr, SUV, truck, etc.) and drive train (FWD, RWD, 4WD, etc.) in your listings. It is a great idea to also include the VIN number.

A growing percentage of buyers and dealers are using CarFax.com to gain information about vehicles. If the buyer is serious about purchasing your car, he/she can research the VIN number through CarFax.com without the added inconvenience of calling you first.

Next in the line of important information are the accessories or options your vehicle has. This is the information that can separate your vehicle from the rest of the pack. List all the options your vehicle has. Whether it has power windows, CD player, ABS brakes, DVD player, or a power sun roof, the buyer needs to know the accessories or options on your vehicle. List them all. Even if the classified ad system you use doesn’t list the accessories in a selectable list, include them in the description field.

You must not forget to include your contact information. List your address as well as your phone number.

If the buyer is interested in your vehicle, he/she could call or drop by for a test drive if close enough.

As a summary, you should include the following in your classified ad (listed in order of importance):

* Contact address and phone number
* Make
* Model
* Year
* Mileage
* Engine type
* Transmission type
* Body style
* Drive train
* VIN number
* Accessories or options

There’s no such thing as listing too much information about your vehicle, so type away and tell as much about your car or truck as possible. The worst thing that can happen is that the potential buyer will spend more time viewing your listing and less time viewing someone else’s listing. Isn’t that what you want?

Choosing the right information for your classified ad can set your automobile apart from the rest of the pack, at least in the buyer’s mind. Look for the next installment titled “Sell Your Car Online: Step 4, Writing a Compelling Description of Your Automobile.“ Happy selling.

Do some homework before you start shopping for a used vehicle. Think about what your needs are, what your driving habits are, and what your budget is. You can learn about vehicle models, options, and prices by reading dealership ads in the newspaper as well as reading the classifieds.

There is also a host of information about used cars on the Internet. Enter the words USED CAR as keywords for searching and you will find information such as how to buy a used car, how to conduct a pre-purchase inspection, ads for cars available for sale, as well as other information.

Your local library and book stores are another source of good information. They have publications that compare car models, options, and costs; as well as offer information about frequency-of-repair records, safety tests, and mileage.

Once you’ve narrowed your car choices, research the frequency of repair and the maintenance costs on those models in auto-related consumer magazines.

When you find a vehicle you are seriously interested in, considering using one of the vehicle history services available online to find out what that vehicle’s history is. Some of the services available include an odometer check to help you make sure the mileage on the vehicle is accurate; checking the registration to find out if the vehicle was a rental, a lease, private party, or fleet vehicle; a title check; as well as finding out if the vehicle is a lemon, was in a major accident, was a salvage vehicle, or was ever reported stolen.

There is typically a fee for these services, but spending a little money to find out the exact history of the vehicle can save you serious money and headaches down the road. In order to use one of these services, you will need the VIN from the vehicle.

Enter the keywords VEHICLE HISTORY in an Internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo.

For financing you have two choices. One is to pay in full at the time of purchase. The other option is to finance over time. If you finance, the total cost of the vehicle increases because you are also paying for the cost of credit which includes interest and other loan costs. If you are going to finance, consider how much money you can put down on the car, your monthly payment, the length of the loan, and the annual percentage rate. Keep in mind that annual percentage rates are typically higher on used vehicles. The loan period is typically shorter on a used vehicle as well.

Dealers and lenders offer a variety of loan terms and payments schedules. Shop around. Compare offers.

Negotiate the best deal you can. Be very careful about advertisements that offer financing to first time buyers and to people with bad credit. They typically require a big down payment and have a high annual percentage interest rate. If you agree to financing that carries a high interest rate, you might be taking a big risk. If you decide to sell the car before the loan is paid in full, the amount you receive from the sale of the vehicle may be far less than the amount you need to pay off the loan. If the car is repossessed or declared a total loss because of an accident, you could be obligated to pay a considerable amount to repay the loan even after the proceeds from the sale of the car or the insurance payment have been deducted.

If you decide to finance, make sure you understand the following aspects of the loan agreement before you sign any documents:

1) the exact price you are paying for the vehicle, not just what the monthly payments are
2) the amount of your finance charges (the exact dollar around the credit will cost you)
3) the annual percentage rate (APR)
4) the number of monthly payments and the amount of each monthly payment
5) the total cost of the vehicle (including tax, title, registration, finance costs, etc.)

Used cars are sold through numerous types of outlets: franchise dealers, independent dealers, rental car companies, leasing companies, used car superstores, private party sales and the Internet. Check with family and friends for recommendations on where to buy a vehicle. It is also a good idea to call your local Better Business Bureau and/or the State Attorney General office to find out if any unresolved complaints are on file about a particular dealer before you decide to do business with them.

There is a lot of hype in ads you will see. Some dealers are attracting customers with no-haggle prices, factory certified used cars and better warranties. Consider the dealer’s reputation when evaluating these ads.

By law, dealers are not required to give used car buyers a three day right to cancel. The right to return a car in a few days for a refund exists only if the dealer grants this privilege to buyers. Before you purchase from a dealer, ask about the return policy. Get the return policy in writing and read it carefully to be sure you understand it.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale. This includes light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars.Demonstrator vehicles are new vehicles that have not been owned, leased, or used as rentals, but they have been driven by the dealer staff. Program cars are low-mileage, current-model-year vehicles returned from short-term leases or rentals.

Buyers Guides do not have to be posted on motorcycles and most recreational vehicles.

Anyone who sells less than six cars a year does not have to post a Buyers Guide.

The Buyers Guide must tell you the following:
1) whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty
2) what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty
3) that spoken promises are difficult to enforce
4) to get all promises in writing
5) to keep the Buyer’s Guide for reference after the sale
6) the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the
major problems you should look out for
7) to ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.

When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the original Buyers Guide that was posted in the vehicle, or a copy. The Guide has to reflect any negotiated changes in the warranty coverage. It also becomes part of your sales contract and overrides any contrary provisions. For example, if
the Buyers Guide says the car comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold “as is,” the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide.

When the dealer offers a vehicle “as is,” the box next to the “As Is – No Warranty” disclosure on the Buyers Guide must be
checked. If the box is checked but the dealer promises to repair the vehicle or cancel the sale if you’re not satisfied, make sure the promise is written on the Buyers Guide.

Some states, do not allow “as is” sales for many used vehicles and some states require different disclosures than those on the Buyers Guide. Check with you state Attorney General office to find out what the laws are in your state.

When you’re going in for your next car purchase keep your eyes peeled for the following scams.

1. The VIN# Window Etching Scam – Some dealers will charge you $300-$900 for window VIN# etching and tell you that you have to pay the money to get the loan because the bank insists on it. Don’t go for it.

Some dealers might tell you that the etching is free but will add on the etch money to your monthly payments to make up for it. Anytime a dealer says something is free, get it in writing and check your monthly fee. The best way to avoid this scam is to force the dealer to put it in writing if they say that the etching is free or simply etch the car yourself.

You can get an etch-it-yourself kit from http://www.CarEtch.com for $30 or just don’t buy the car. Remember a lender doesn’t require that you purchase any extras on a car. All the lender cares about is that you can make your regular payments on time.

2. The Financing Scam – You trade in your old car in and the finance manager signs you up at the agreed interest rate and gives you the car. After a week or two passes and he/she calls saying that you didn’t qualify for the interest rates that they gave you when the deal was made.

Every new purchase has a clause in the contract that usually states that the deal is “subject to loan approval.” This gives the finance manager an opening to get more money out of you. All that this clause means in the contract is that the deal is not finished yet even if you already have possession of the car and have signed the contract. The dealer can then charge you $1000 more in finance fees and up your monthly payments by $50. This scam is generally pulled on people with bad credit because it is more believable.

You can avoid this scam by not financing the car with the dealer if you know that you have bad credit. You are better off going to a credit union and financing the car yourself. When you buy a new car the deal should be made on the price of the car, not on the monthly payments.

3. The Credit Score Scam – This is desperation in action. This is when the finance manager tells you that your credit score is lower than it really is so that they can get you for higher interest rates. This scam is pulled on everyone; good or bad credit. This scam is easy to avoid. Just get your own copy of your credit report from Equifax.com, and bring it with you.

It’s pretty hard to lie to you about your credit score if you have your own copy of it. If your paper and theirs doesn’t say the same thing, you might want to shop elsewhere because that dealership is sleazy. Don’t hesitate to let them know it too because it’ll be nice to watch them try to back out of that one.

4. The Forced Warranty Scam – This is when the finance manager tells you that you are not eligible for the loan by the bank unless you pay an extra $2000 for a 2-3 year extended warranty. It’s hard to believe they even try this. Why would the bank trust you to pay a $22,000 loan for the car, but they will not trust you to pay for a $20,000 loan?? That’s just insane.

You can avoid this scam by forcing them to put it in writing that you “have” to pay the extended warranty in order to get the loan. Just let them know you’d like to check with the contract your local State’s Attorney’s office for validity and they’ll drop the extended warranty in a heartbeat.

5. The Dealer Preparation Scam – Unfortunately, this is legal and very much common practice. I still refer to it as a scam because it is just another way to get more money from you for nothing. The dealer will tell you that you have to pay an extra $500 to cover the labor costs of the dealership’s 5-point inspection.

This alleged check up that you are paying so much money for, is for the dealership to remove plastic from the seats, vacuum the car, maybe, and make sure all of the fuses and fluids are ready to go. When factories deliver the new cars to the dealerships the cost of delivery and preparation is already covered, so basically you are paying the dealership for work that they haven’t really done.

You can avoid this scam by simply asking the dealership to add an extra $500 credit to the deal to make sure you do not have to pay the money. If they refuse, the choice is yours. If you think it’s fine buy the car, if not; try another dealer that will remove the dealer preparation costs.

If you can avoid these 5 car dealership scams when buying your next new car, you’ll be way ahead of the game.