5 Musts-Dos to Sell Your Used Car Right

By Alex Perdikis

Maybe you bought a new car and don’t need your old one. Or, maybe you inherited a car that’s not an antique, but not exactly something you want to drive, either. Whatever the reason, you’re thinking of trying to sell it yourself. But, where do you start?

Get Ready

Before you start placing ads everywhere, get ready. Prospective buyers need information before they hand over their hard-earned money for your used car and you’d better have it. You also have to protect yourself legally.

Here’s what you need to do before listing your used car for sale:

1. Write down the details. Document the year, make, model, mileage, average miles per gallon, number of previous owners, accidents involving the vehicle, maintenance records, mechanical problems and any other detail you know about the car in question.

2. How much is it worth? Look at the Kelly Blue Book (KBB) or Edmunds Appraisal sites to determine your car’s worth. To get an accurate assessment, answer the form questions honestly. Don’t set your sights on the price you get, however. More on that later.

3. How much are people in your area willing to pay? Check local print ads and sites like Craigslist to get a feel for prices where you live. Don’t look at dealer sales, but private party sales instead. That is the type of sale you’re engaging in.

Here’s a great tip. Check eBay’s used car sales. Particularly pay attention to prices on completed sales for cars similar to yours.

4. Check your title. Make sure you have a clean title. You will not be able to sell the car without a title and any liens have to be taken care of before you sell.

5. Meet inspection requirements. If you live in a state that requires inspections or certifications of any kind, check the laws governing your sale. Your car might have to pass inspections before you sell the car to someone else.

Price Me!

You have the KBB or Edmunds worth estimate and, if you did your research, you know how much people in your area pay for similar vehicles. Also, take into account the economic health and demographics of your region as you think about pricing.

The boring old sedan is in high demand for those with families on a budget. Sports cars and convertibles sell better in the summer and spring. Work trucks and vans are popular and can be competitively priced. Collector cars take longer to sell and are tricky to price, but the potential is high if you find the right buyer.


“Take into account any new parts, such as a new engine or tires. Also consider any negatives, including dents or rust spots.” — Alex Perdikis


Ask yourself how fast you want to sell it. If you don’t mind waiting, settle on a slightly higher price.

Initially, ask for more than you’re willing to settle for. Expect to negotiate with people. If, for example, you’d like to get $10,000 out of the deal, ask for $11,500. Most people offer down in $500 to $1000 increments. Asking more gives you a bit of leeway.

Pretty Me Up

Before you start showing the car, pretty it up. Take the time to wash it, vacuum the inside, clean the trunk and compartment areas, polish windows and wipe the steering wheel and dashboard down so they’re free of dust. If you’re up to the challenge, make low-cost repairs before you sell.

As an added buyer incentive, have your maintenance documentation and a vehicle history report ready to show. Even better, get a report from your regular mechanic about the car’s condition to show potential buyers.

Show the Car, But Protect Yourself

As people answer your Craigslist and print ads, it’s your job to evaluate them. If you don’t want people coming to your home, arrange to meet them in a public area.

Go with potential buyers as they test drive the vehicle. If they want to take the car to their own mechanic, take the car yourself or ride along. Let other people know where you are if you go anywhere with a potential buyer.

How Much?

Think ahead of time about how to handle the price negotiations. Below are a few examples of what buyers often say when they negotiate:

  • “What’s your bottom price?” Don’t see this as a sale if you greatly reduce your price. Stick to your asking price for the time being.
  • “This is my price. Take it or leave it.” Unless the price is acceptable, thank the person for coming and let them go. If they’re bluffing but interested, they may not leave after all.
  • “Will you take (specific amount)?” This person is interested but leaves the door open for you to counter offer.

Once you agree on a price, avoid problems by taking either cash or a cashier’s check. Don’t agree to accept payments over time or take a personal check.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

Driving Emergencies — Avoidance & Survival

By Alex Perdikis

Modern cars are safer than ever, but that doesn’t mean you won’t face an emergency situation when you drive. You might be a great driver, but there are people on the road who are not. And, you certainly can’t control Mother Nature.

Sometimes bad things happen. Often, your chances of avoiding a serious injury and surviving depend on how well you prepare beforehand. You can’t control everything when you drive, but there are steps you can take now to lower the odds of having a serious accident.

Time for Review

Even if you’re an experienced driver, a refresher course about how to handle car malfunctions could save your life. Follow these safe-handling tips if your car suddenly acts up:

  • Headlights stop working. Press the dimmer switch a couple of times to see if that works. If it doesn’t, do the same with the headlight switch. If the lights don’t come on, pull off to the side and turn your hazard lights on. Call for help.
  • Power steering fails. Prepare to use extra muscle to steer. Turn to the side of the road and stop when it’s safe. If the engine cuts out, you’ll have to apply extra brake pressure to stop the car.
  • Brakes fail. This is probably one of the most frightening experiences a driver can have. First, downshift. If you have regular brakes, immediately pump the brake in rapid succession to build up brake fluid pressure. If you’ve pumped more than four times to no avail, use the parking brake to stop.
  • Tire blowouts. Resist the urge to slam on your brakes. Firmly grip the steering wheel, remove your foot from the accelerator and let the car slow gradually. As you slow down, pull to the side of the road and stop. Activate your emergency lights.
  • Sudden acceleration. If your car accelerates suddenly, put it in neutral. If that doesn’t slow you down, turn the ignition off. Pull to the side of the road as soon as it’s safe.


“Reduce the chances of experiencing these types of malfunctions by properly maintaining your car.” — Alex Perdikis


Follow the schedule in the owner’s manual for oil and fluid changes, tuneups and filter replacement. Keep a close eye on your tires. Rotate tires as directed by the manufacturer and replace when necessary.

What’s the No.1 Way to Survive an Accident?

The No.1 way to survive an accident is not to have one at all. If you drive defensively, concentrate on your surroundings and follow the basic precepts of smart driving, you significantly reduce the odds of having an accident.

Follow these proactive driving tips to avoid accidents:

1. Look far, far ahead. Concentrate on the road ahead and use your peripheral vision to stay in your own lane. You’re probably asking yourself, “How far ahead is enough?”

Here’s a simple trick — take a dry-erase marker, sit in the driver’s seat of your car and look straight ahead. With the marker, draw a line across the windshield a tad below your line of vision. Your eyes should stay above the line when you drive except for a brief glance below now and then.

If you’re in traffic, look through the windshield of the car ahead of you for a long view. It also helps to position your car slightly to the left of the driver in front of you. That way, you can see what’s going on farther down the road.

2. Beware of intersections. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over a third of vehicle crashes occur at intersections. Navigating an intersection is not the time to let your guard down.

Intersections are particularly dangerous for pedestrians, bicycle riders, motorcyclists and those in small cars. Why is that? Modern vehicle designs reduce a driver’s view of smaller objects.

Even so, it’s your fault if you hit a person, bicycle, motorcycle or smaller car. If you do, it means you didn’t look well enough.

When you turn at an intersection, brake completely. Look where you want to go before you turn the wheel. Check your side windows and mirrors and only turn when you’re confident the way’s clear.

If you’re driving through the intersection, protect yourself from distracted drivers who run through stop signs or red lights. Look left and right and through the side windows before you enter. Remember to leave enough room between you and the car in front of you, in case it slows to make a turn.

3. Perfect your off-the-road/back-on-the-road technique. Single car accidents account for a quarter of accident fatalities, according to the NHTSA. Distracted and drunken driving account for some of that total, but often a driver simply panics and overcorrects.

If, for whatever reason, you find yourself driving with two wheels off the road, steer straight and release the accelerator. Remain calm and slowly steer back on the road.

What If It Happens Anyway?

If you drive long enough, chances are you will be involved in an accident. It can happen even when you do everything right. Prepare for the “just in case” by making sure your phone is fully charged before you get in the car. Keep a survival kit with food, water and first aid equipment in the trunk. Maybe with a little luck, you won’t have to use them.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

Fun for the Entire Family: There’s a Car Festival Near You

By Alex Perdikis

Americans love cars. The car is more than something to get around in — it’s a way of life. That’s probably why there are so many car shows and festivals around the country. They’re not all beauty contests, either. Most have unique twists that make them stand out. So, grab some snacks, gather the kids and hit the road for some family fun at one of these festivals.

The Newport Hill Climb

Newport, Indiana, is home to the annual Newport Antique Auto Hill Climb. The actual race is held on the first Sunday in October, but the festival itself starts the Friday before and lasts three days. The festival attracts up to 100,000 people each year. The hill at the center of the competition is steep with a finish line 1,800 feet up.

What gives the Hill Climb festival its unique spin is that it’s a hill climb competition of unlikely participants. The competition is open only to 1942 and older stock autos and trucks, discontinued makes through 1955 and non-OHV motorcycles through the year 1953.

“The sight of a Model T  or other antique powering up the hill is what makes this festival so much fun.” — Alex Perdikis


The Newport Hill Climb has a fascinating backstory as well. The hill in the center of town has been a challenge since “new-fangled” automobiles were invented. In the early 1900s, two owners of what are now called antique cars decided to see which made it up the fastest. Out of that competition, a tradition was born. The first formal Hill Climb competition was held in 1909.

Aside from the competition itself, there’s also a car show, food, vendors and nearby camping and lodging. You can also purchase a raffle ticket to help support the festival. What’s the prize, you ask? Each year, organizers give away a restored vintage car.

The Wine & Wheels Car Show

This one-day festival is young compared to the Hill Climb, but it’s already popular. Held at the Catoctin Breeze Vineyard in Thurmont, Maryland, every July, the Wine & Wheels raises money for charity.

The car show features modern and classic vehicles and a “Top 10 Best Cars” competition where visitors vote for their favorites. Fun includes live music, food, raffles and wine. Even though wine is served, the festival has plenty of activities for kids as well.

You can enter your own vintage car, if you have one, for a nominal fee.

The Celebration Exotic Car Festival

April in central Florida means fun in the sun for a lot of people. April is also when the Celebration Exotic Car Festival takes place.

Each year, the festival raises money for a children’s charity. And, each year is better and bigger than the last. The four-day festival brings together a collection of race cars, Hollywood film cars and, of course, exotic cars. Celebrities also make appearances. “Happy Days” regulars Anson Williams and Donny Most are just two of the celebrities who’ve recently appeared.

The inspiration for the festival came after the tragic death of Laura Ippoliti in 2001. Laura was an F1 and Ferrari enthusiast, well-known for her big heart and love of children. Family members decided to turn Laura’s death into a positive and the Celebration Exotic Car Festival was born.

Founded in 2004, the Celebration Exotic Car Festival is a charitable event with 100 percent of the proceeds going to children’s’ charities such as Make-a-Wish and the Special Olympics.

International Route 66 Mother Road Festival

Tucked away in Missouri’s Ozarks sits the town of Springfield. Most of the year, it’s a much quieter place than nearby Branson. But every August Springfield turns into a celebration of America’s Mother Road.

The two-day show features hundreds of vintage, classic and antique vehicles in every class imaginable. The Route 66 Mother Road Festival also features a charity bike show, parade and live music.

Of course, a festival celebrating Route 66 wouldn’t be complete without displays and fun facts about the Mother Road itself. Collectors, artists, historians, authors and associations creatively display memorabilia and artifacts that make the past come alive.

Woodward Dream Cruise

More than a million people visit downtown Detroit in August to take in the Woodward Dream Cruise. Approximately 40,000 cars and trucks line Woodward Avenue for over a mile. Vintage cars, trucks, race cars, exotic cars and performance cars are just some of the unusual and historic vehicles you’ll see.

The Woodward Dream Cruise came out of humble beginnings. Officials in the city of Ferndale, Michigan, needed to raise money for a soccer field. Of course, cars are a way of life so near the Motor City. What better way to raise those soccer field funds than a car cruise with stops at the local drive-ins?

The first official cruise outdid expectations when 250,000 people attended. Now the one-day event is the world’s largest. Family events include a 5K foot race, kids’ inflatable zone, parades, games, music, movies, competitions and prizes.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.