So you want to sell a car

So you want to sell a car

I’ve written before about buying used RC vehicles, but this time I’m going to talk about selling them.  There are a lot of reasons why you might want to sell one of your rides.  Maybe you need some cash to buy something newer and better, or maybe you’re just trying to clear space on your workbench.  In either case, selling your used RC is beneficial to both you and whoever ends up buying it… provided you follow the right steps.  I’ve bought and sold hundreds of used RC parts and vehicles over the years, and here’s the process I always follow:

Research, research, research
The best place to start is to find other people selling vehicles like yours.  Make a note of how much they are selling for, what sort of information is included in the posting, and what sorts of questions people are asking.  If you’re not sure where to start with writing up your own ‘for sale’ post, don’t be afraid to use someone else’s posting as a reference.  Under no circumstances should you copy it exactly, but it’s perfectly acceptable to use it as a template.

Prepare your vehicle
Nobody wants to buy a dirty car, even if it’s just for parts.  I’m not saying you should spend hours scrubbing and detailing, but definitely give your RC a good once-over with a can of compressed air and a toothbrush.  Wipe off excess oil and grease with a rag, and give the polycarbonate shell a quick wash in the kitchen sink.  Fifteen minutes of cleaning goes a long way towards making your ride more appealing to a seller.

Choose where you want to sell it
Now that you know a bit more about what your ride is worth and have made it ready to sell, you need to decide where to sell it.  Your possible choices include online message boards, your local hobby shop, internet classifieds, and of course auction websites.  I almost always go for auctions, not only because I have a well-established account but also because auctions are quick and easy to post.  There are even mobile phone applications available that will help you put together your listing and will post it for you.

Determine your sale price
If there is a minimum amount of money you’ve decided your car or truck is worth, you need to adjust your selling techniques accordingly.  If you’re posting a classified ad, you’ll want to over-state your asking price because people will want to haggle you down a bit.  If you are posting an auction, you’ll want to use a reserve price.  Be warned, however, that many buyers hate reserve auctions and often won’t bid on them at all.  My favorite way to sell is to post an auction for $1 and let everyone fight over it to determine the final price.  The initial low price attracts more bidders, which means more interested parties at the close of the auction.  The downside to this approach, however, is that the auction might close at a price much lower than desired.

Be honest, be positive
When describing your vehicle, be especially careful to point out flaws, broken or damaged parts, and anything that might be missing.  Don’t ever assume the pictures will do the job – you need to spell everything out very, very clearly or you are sure to get burned by an unhappy buyer.  On the flip side, however, don’t just point out the negative bits.  Your vehicle still has many good features (Well… it does, doesn’t it?), so be sure to point them out.  Generally speaking, you should lead into your description with something good, talk about the flaws and other bad things in the middle, and then finish it up with something else good.  For example:

“You are bidding on a brand new Barbie Corvette in excellent condition. One of the wheels is a little bit loose because Ken didn’t tighten down the lug nuts properly, and the bumper is slightly scratched from running over a Smurf. Aside from that this car is in great shape and runs very well.”

Take lots of pictures
The more pictures you can provide the better.  Take close-ups, wide shots, and everything in between from every angle.  Do your best to take the pictures on a pleasing background, such as a clean white sheet or a nice-looking brick patio.  Avoid shooting pictures with the vehicle sitting on a pile of your dirty laundry or on a messy kitchen counter.  Some sites charge more for any additional pictures you want to post along with your listing, so pick the best one and offer to email people additional pictures if they want them. 

Don’t overcharge for shipping
If there is one thing buyers hate (aside from reserve auctions), it’s to feel like they got ripped off with the shipping charges.  Under no circumstances should you ever overcharge what you’re paying for shipping.  People are smart – they can figure out what it actually costs to ship a package and they will NOT be happy when they realize they paid double.  My advice?  Offer flat rate shipping (e.g., $10 for USPS Priority Mail anywhere in the US), or better yet go with free shipping.  Don’t worry – you’re not going to lose money this way.  People will be willing to pay more for an item if the shipping is free, so any cash you lose on shipping you’ll make up for in the sale price.

Once it sells, ship it immediately
When your auction or classified ad successfully closes the sale, get your gear shipped out ASAP.  You’ve worked hard to get to this point, and it would be a shame to turn a good transaction bad just because you didn’t feel like going to the Post Office for a week.

Kill them with kindness
You know that phrase “The customer is always right”?  Well, your buyer is the customer.  It doesn’t matter how much of a pain they are or how little you think they are paying for your very favorite RC of all time, you need to swallow your pride and be super nice to them.  As a seller, you stand a lot more to lose by getting in a fight than a buyer does.  Just one black mark on your record as a seller can haunt you for a very long time.  Be positive and pleasant no matter how bad it gets, and I promise you’ll live to sell another day.  If things go wrong for some reason, just say you’re sorry and make things right – and do it fast.  Remember, you’d expect nothing less if you were the buyer.

And that’s it!  You now know everything you need to successfully sell your used RC vehicle quickly, easily, and for a good price.  If you’ve had your eye on the latest kit that showed up at your local hobby store but didn’t know what to do with your old gear, let this post serve as your guide.  Good luck and happy selling!



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Updated: July 20, 2015 — 3:35 PM
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