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    Get Your Car Ready to Sell or Trade In

    Last updated 3 days ago

    Tons of websites offer great advice for preparing your car for a sale or trade-in. If the goal is to get the best offer, you'll want to make sure your car is in tiptop shape!

    1. Research the market to understand how to price your vehicle and how quickly you can expect to sell it. reports that family sedans are constantly in demand by those needing basic, affordable transportation, while collector cars generally take longer to sell and can be difficult to price. Online classifieds are a good starting place for your pricing research.
    2. Price your car competitively. Once you've researched the local online classifieds, then check the True Market Value, or check Kelly Blue Book ( for a comparison. Once you've decided how much you'd like to get for your car, price it slightly higher to allow room for negotiation.
    3. Improve your car's "curb appeal". reports that most people decide whether to buy your car within the first few seconds of seeing it. Consider having a professional detailer work on your car, and make small repairs rather than selling "as is". Have your vehicle's maintenance records ready for prospective buyers, and run a report to prove you have clear title.
    4. Decide where to advertise your car. Consider options like craigslist, classified ads in your local newspaper, putting a sign in your car window, and even eBay. Double-check your ad for accuracy. Once you've placed the ad, be sure you're available to take calls and return email inquiries promptly.
    5. Craft an ad that gives the total picture. List your car's year, make, model, color, and any features that make it stand out from the competition. You can also use phrases like "must sell" to indicate you're willing to sell at a deep discount. If you're willing to negotiate, indicate the "asking price" or include "OBO". If you're set on the amount you must receive for your car, list the price as "firm".
    6. Prepare to Show Your Car. Are you uncomfortable having strangers come to your home? Arrange a neutral meeting place, like a grocery store parking lot. Be ready to show maintenance records or your mechanic's report. Finally, recommends you trust your intuition if you have doubts about a potential buyer.
    7. Sharpen Your Negotiating Skills. Potential buyers will likely try to bargain. You may want to hold fast to your price at first. If your car doesn't sell, then consider meeting a potential buyer halfway. If the buyer says "take it or leave it", says the only way to know if they're serious is to turn down the offer, and take the risk that the buyer won't return.
    8. Seal the Deal. Most sellers request payment in cash or by cashier's check. Once you have the money, make a note of the odometer reading and then transfer title to the new owner. In Texas, you must submit a vehicle transfer notification within 30 days to limit your liability. This can be done online. Don't forget to contact your insurance agent and cancel your insurance policy on the vehicle.

    Car Buying Decisions: Tips for Buying a Car from a Private Seller

    Last updated 11 days ago

    Buying a used car from an individual instead of a dealer can save you dealer markup. But if there are problems with the car, you won't have the same recourse. Take these steps to make sure you know what you're buying.

    Questions to Ask the Seller

    • How long have you owned the car?
    • Why are you selling it?
    • Can I review the vehicle's repair and maintenance records? If the seller doesn't have the records, ask for the name of the mechanic or shop that works on the car so you can review the records there. If the seller tells you he maintained the car himself, so there are no records, you can have your own mechanic examine the car. Auto P.I. is a company in Austin that specializes in pre-purchase inspections, and offers a discount to Amplify members.
    • How has the car been driven? Was it used for errands around town, a daily commute in traffic, long road trips? Has it been sitting, un-driven, for a while?
    • Is the seller an auto dealer? Is the title issued in the seller's name? If you think a seller may be an unlicensed dealer, be extremely cautious. These individuals often peddle cars with serious mechanical problems.

    Do Your Homework

    If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Ask if the car has a salvaged title. If it does, walk away immediately. A salvaged title means the vehicle has been badly damaged at some point and is usually uninsurable.

    Investigate on your own. Don't rely solely on the seller's answers. They want to sell and may skew their responses or just not know if something has failed if the vehicle has been sitting for a while. To be safe, use these techniques to make sure you know the truth about the car you want to buy:

    • Have a reputable mechanic inspect your vehicle.
    • Obtain a Vehicle History Report at If you have a smartphone you can do this within minutes. Or you can tell the seller you're interested but you need to check the VIN and do it when you get home. A CARFAX report can’t tell you everything about a vehicle, but it does check for vehicle registration, title information, and service and repair history.

    Secure Your Financing Before You Shop

    Before you start shopping for a used car, get pre-approved for an Amplify Auto Loan. If you settle your financing before you start shopping, you'll start out ahead of the game. You'll know exactly what you can spend and can't be talked up and the seller will be more likely to negotiate with someone who already has their money ready to go.

    5 More Used Car Buying Myths & Mistakes

    Last updated 19 days ago

    Here are five more factors that can cause a financial nightmare when purchasing a used vehicle, whether from an individual, a car dealership, or even a certified pre-owned car dealer.

    #5: Frame-Damaged and Flooded Vehicles

    It is estimated that 1 in 14 vehicles on the road today are rebuilt from salvage and that 40% of all frame repairs are substandard. Many frame-damaged and flooded vehicles will never be reported to the DMV, therefore Carfax and AutoCheck will only show a clean title. Only a physical professional inspection can determine if the vehicle has previous accident or flood damage.

    #4: Used Car Values

    There are many websites and publications that give used car values. These pricing guides and websites calculate used car prices based on current sales in your region, plus additions for optional equipment and deductions for excessive miles. The true value of a used vehicle is the book value minus any needed repairs, abuse, or previous accident damage.

    #3: Certified Vehicles

    There are no quality standards or inspection standards for "Certified" or "Certified Pre-Owned" vehicles. Be aware that the "Certified Vehicle" warranty can vary greatly from dealer to dealer. As with any warranty, used car buyers must know what systems are covered and not covered, as well as the length of time of the coverage. A professional pre-purchase inspection is still needed to determine existing problems and previous accident damages that are not covered under the limited warranty.

    #2: Vehicle History Reports

    Carfax & AutoCheck admit that most vehicle accidents will never show up on their reports. A vehicle history report cannot tell the buyer of any existing or potential mechanical or electrical repair problems, the quality of any previous repairs, or the quality of any accident repairs. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can discover needed repairs, abuse, and previous accident damages. A clean "history report" does not mean the car is in good condition.

    #1: Getting a Pre-Purchase Inspection

    The #1 reason used car buyers purchase vehicles with existing problems is that buyers fail to determine the TRUE condition of the vehicle. Pre-purchase inspections (PPIs) require the testing and evaluation of every mechanical, electrical, body, and frame system of the used vehicle. However, there are no pre-purchase inspection standards, and there are significant differences between today's automotive technicians performing PPIs.

    Most automotive technicians are not qualified to perform pre-purchase inspections. Used vehicles are so complex that most automotive technicians are ASE Certified in just a few of the 8 general automotive areas. A complete PPI needs all 8 areas inspected. Only an ASE Master Technician is certified on all 8 mechanical and electrical areas. In addition, a PPI needs a Body & Frame Specialist to detect any previous accident and/ or frame damage, as well as the quality of the repairs.

    Brought to you by Auto P.I. Used Car Inspections

    Offering 600-point Mechanical, Electrical, Body, and Frame Inspections, ASE Master Certified Technicians, Body & Frame Specialists, Mobile Service

    Serving the Austin, TX Metro area: (512) 454-5999

    5 Used Car Buying Myths & Mistakes

    Last updated 24 days ago

    These five myths and mistakes can cause a financial nightmare when purchasing a used vehicle. Be sure you understand each one before you buy any used vehicle from an individual, car dealership, or certified pre-owned dealership.

    #5: Used Car Lemon Law

    There is no used car lemon law in the state of Texas. Many used car buyers assume that since there is a new car lemon law, there must be a used car lemon law. Any verbal representation of the vehicle's condition by the seller/ salesperson is not enforceable in court. It is the buyer's responsibility to determine the true condition of the vehicle before purchase.

    #4: Take Back Period

    In Texas, there is no law or automatic 3-day take back period. Once you sign the sales documents, any existing problems with the vehicle are now your problems.

    #3: Automatic Warranty

    There is no automatic warranty when purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer. Dealers may offer some sort of limited warranty. Be sure you understand which components and/ or systems are covered and not covered, as well as the length of time they are covered. Most warranties are very limited and do not cover the majority of the mechanical and electrical systems.

    #2: "AS-IS" Document

    When purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer, all buyers are required to sign the "AS-IS" document. The "AS-IS" document has two check boxes: "Warranty" and "AS-IS No Warranty." If the "AS-IS" box is checked, used car buyers are responsible for all problems after the purchase.l If the "Warranty" box is checked, the dealer will offer some sort of limited warranty for a specific time. Only the items written on the "AS-IS" document are under warranty. As with any warranty, buyers must understand what components and/ or systems are not covered.

    #1: Odometer Fraud

    It is estimated that 1 in 4 used vehicles have odometer discrepancies. Vehicles with altered miles or excessive wear and tear will be much less than book value. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can determine if the wear and tear on the vehicle is consistent with the odometer reading.

    A professional pre-purchase inspection by an ASE Master Technician and Frame Specialist is an important part of the used car buying process and can save you from a financial nightmare. You cannot negotiate your best price until you determine the TRUE condition of the vehicle.

    Courtesy of Auto P.I. Used Car Inspections

    Offering 600-Point Mechanical, Electrical, Body & Frame Inspections, ASE Master Certified Technicians, Body & Frame Specialists, Mobile Service

    Serving the Austin, TX Metro area (512) 454-5999

    Car Buying Decisions: Pitfalls of Zero-Percent Offers

    Last updated 1 month ago

    We've all seen the ads on television for a new car or truck with 0% financing. What a deal! Buy on credit with no interest — it's like using someone else's money!

    Not so fast. Zero-percent financing can cost more than you think. Here's what you should know about this special financing arrangement before you run off to the dealer.

    Zero Percent May Offer Fewer Choices

    Just like grocery store specials, zero-percent financing offers can be a lure to get you in the door only to find that the "special" isn't quite what you wanted. Zero-percent offers usually apply only to certain models or brands. Your choice may also be limited to the dealer's stock on hand, which means you might not get the color, style, or options you want.

    In many cases, dealers are looking to move "loaded" vehicles. Unwanted options can drive the sticker price up 25% or more, lessening your ability to negotiate a better price on the new vehicle or for your trade-in and costing you more than you really want to spend. Those unwanted extras can add up to more than a reasonable interest rate would have cost over the life of a loan on the vehicle you really wanted.

    Do You Even Qualify for "Free Money"?

    According to a Consumer Task Force for Automotive Issues survey, fewer than 10% of all applicants meet the strict credit criteria needed to qualify for the zero-percent rate. Those with less-than-perfect credit get bumped up to a higher-rate loan, and dealer financing can often be more expensive that a loan you get through your bank or credit union. Credit unions usually have the lowest rates and fees because they are not-for-profit cooperatives.

    Also, many dealer loans require a shorter payback term, making your monthly payments less manageable. You may even have to make a larger down payment and be subject to bigger prepayment penalties if you don't have your financing in hand when you walk in the door..

    Make Your Best Deal with a Pre-Approved Loan and Smart Negotiating

    Want to make the best deal? Take rebates instead of special financing, negotiate a good price, then come to your credit union for financing. You'll find competitive rates on new and used auto loans, and you can get pre-approved in minutes. Even better, get pre-approved before you start shopping so you know exactly how much you can spend and you can make the deal the minute you feel you've negotiated a deal you like. Being ready to buy gives you more power in any negotiation.

    This chart illustrates your potential savings when you negotiate for rebates and use a low-cost credit union loan instead of seemingly low-cost dealer financing that precludes rebates:

    You can use our online financial calculators to determine your monthly payments. We encourage you to compare payment plans to ensure you're getting the best deal.

    *APR=Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are for example only. APR is based upon a variety of factors, including the applicant's credit rating.

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