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How to Sell a Modified Car in California?

Although selling a modified car requires extra effort and attention, with all of the trending vehicle customizations right now in Los Angeles, selling your modified vehicle does not have to be too difficult. Keeping a few simple things in mind, you should be able to sell your modified vehicle without a problem.

Clearly Express Your Vehicle’s History

Like with any other vehicle, it is best to express your vehicle’s history clearly and concisely. Putting down things such as the frequency and specifics of any maintenance will give the prospective buyer the impression that you cared about, and took well care of, your vehicle. Any repairs should also be documented so that the buyer will have an idea of what has already been replaced and what may need replacing in the foreseeable future.

If at all possible, you may want to get a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) completed before you put out your classified ad. This way, you will have a qualified opinion of your vehicle’s cosmetic, mechanical, and safety condition on hand and evidence that what you said in your ad was honest.

Equally important to note in your classified ad includes any modifications including both aftermarket and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts. This also includes any cosmetic customizations such as brake caliper powder coatings. If you are going to try to sell your vehicle online, which is probably the easiest way to reach potential buyers, you should consider including links to the part’s manufacturer’s description of the modification, it is benefits and any applicable warranties.  

Gather Receipts

Any receipts you have will not only increase the potential buyer’s trust in you but will also justify the price you have chosen as well as make car ownership easier for them if they do decide to purchase your vehicle.

Provide any receipts related to your vehicle’s history that you have, as well as receipts for every modification including part and labor costs. The buyer may not be aware of the costs or benefits of ceramic coating, but providing the receipt will help them have a better grasp regarding what you put into it and why your vehicle’s price reflects that.

This will also tell the potential buyer where you had your modifications and customizations installed. Knowing what reputable shop installed your modifications can allow them the opportunity to get further modifications at a shop that already knows your vehicle.

If they wanted to remove customization, such as paint protection film at the end of its life expectancy, they would be able to have it removed and replaced by the same people who installed it, reducing the likelihood of a mishap.  

Pay Special Attention to Your Photos

Taking good photos is always important, and it is even more crucial if your vehicle is customized. With factory vehicles, the purpose of photographs on your ad is to display the condition of your vehicle. With a customized vehicle, you are not only trying to display its condition but also ensure the customizations and modifications are desirable to the potential buyer.

They may think that a vinyl wrap, for example, is a good idea until they the particular color of yours. Alternatively, they may have disregarded your ad after seeing the words “chrome deletes”  but changed their mind after deciding they love how it looks on your car!

Take many photos and then pick the best ones out of the bunch. Take several photos of the front of the vehicle – straight on, each side of the vehicle – straight on, and a 3/4th view from the front and the back on both the passenger and driver side of the vehicle. Also, make sure to take photos of the interior and remember to get the door panels in the shot for some of the photos.

Just like you would make sure your vehicle is clean and detailed before taking a photo of the exterior, make sure your engine compartment is in good appearance and take an engine overview shot. You may even want to take a few photos of the vehicle in action, having someone take a picture while you drive.

If you have photos or a video of your vehicle before removable customizations were added such as vinyl wraps, make those available to the buyer as well. This is one of the reasons it is a great idea to do a “before and after” of your vehicle when you get any modifications or customizations.

Smog Certification

A smog certification issued by a STAR Smog Testing Station is required in the State of California before you sell your vehicle. Without it, you will not be able to complete the transfer at the DMV. There are some exceptions though. For example, if you have already gotten a biennial smog certification in the last 90 days, you do not need to do it again.

Electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles, and vehicles that are less than four model years old are also exempt from this requirement.

Engage in Niche Message Boards

Modified vehicles are easier to sell to other enthusiasts and make niche message boards a good idea. For example, if wrapping your vehicle will increase its resale value or decrease its resale value depends largely on who you are selling it to.

Before advertising your vehicle elsewhere, you should attempt to do so on niche message boards, there is one or more for every make and model of vehicle.

Most of these message boards allow you to post a classified ad for free after you participate a little, commenting on other’s posts or posting yourself.

Not only may you find potential buyers, but the people on these forums can also help you refine your advertisement through their critique. It is a valuable place to start.

Mainstream Websites

If your vehicle does not sell on any message boards, then you can go on to other platforms, both online and offline. There are many mainstream websites that you can utilize including Autotrader.com and Craigslist.com. Do be wary of scams on Craigslist, though.

You may also utilize social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook and their relevant groups. Mautofied.com is another good option. This website provides online custom auto classifieds for both the listing of parts and the listings of entire vehicles. 


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