Illustration by Areesha Zaki
Illustration by Areesha Zaki

Have you ever sat through a political debate? Not knowing a word of what was being said? Especially if those politics aren't even about the country you live in?

Have you ever just let that knowledge or information pass by, because it just wasn’t relevant? Hoping you would never live to see a day where this information truly impacted your life?

I was like that with cars. Well, I'm like that with politics too but with cars, it wasn’t so much a question of lack of interest, than it was of fear (in hindsight). I didn’t get them. I never put in the effort to get them.

Big car, small car, black car, white car, this was all the information I needed to get around. The maximum I even spoke of a car was, “Hey, my car broke down” or “Hey, nice car”!

And so, I kept my now ex-car for five years, hoping to sell it someday. I had been meaning to sell it for three years now, thinking about the prospect every week and bringing it up in discussions with the first male I saw around me. Get some random advice, decide it's too complicated and park that thought.

Hence, here's how it remained parked for three years.

Until ultimately, along with so much more awareness that 2020 brought, came the realisation, that I had to overcome this demon! I needed to be able to sell my own car and then buy one too. What did other people understand that I couldn’t?

A series of consults with my male friends/family members, who were all very kind and helpful made me realise something: there were only a few objective considerations. The rest was all subjective and opinion based, wrapped neatly with what sounds like rationality.

Here’s what it came down to for me; I needed to try. If the worst that could happen was that I wouldn’t make the best deal (why not though?), I was still willing to give it a shot for the sense of empowerment I hoped to gain from it.

I'm sharing some of my key learnings with you (not all of these might be helpful for you or this might not be the path you want to take but regardless, reading this will hopefully lead you (mostly girls but boys!) to make a more informed decision).

Where to start?

1) First of all, start with having an idea of what the market price of your car is. Luckily there are plenty of websites now that can give you an idea (by looking for similar cars and their prices).

2) Things that play into evaluating the price/value of a car (besides the kind of car it is) include:

  • Model (the year the car was manufactured); the older the car, the less it might cost.

  • Mileage (how much has your car been driven; usually anything above 100,000 is considered a lot).

  • The condition of the car’s body/structure (if the structure of the car has had a major accident, that can lead to a serious devaluing of the car’s value.) Note: the rub here is, unfortunately, not everyone will openly disclose if their car has ever been in an accident (applicable when you are buying a car). It is also possible that the car was accidented before import (true for imported refurnished cars) and the owner is not aware of it (though it is usually mentioned in the import document). A good way of getting that evaluated is taking a good car mechanic with you or there are professional services such as PakWheels that can do a car inspection for you, at a minimal cost.

  • Colour; some colours sell better than others (for example, white is the easiest to sell in Pakistan).

  • City in which the car is registered; some city registrations increase the value of the car such as Islamabad.

  • How many owners a car has had; if a car has been driven by one person or two, it's considered to be in a better condition versus four or five!

3) Once you know the price of your car, always quote Rs50-100k above (for haggling margin which everyone will do and expects).

4) Now it’s important to decide what medium do you want to sell it on. I'm going to share the three most popular ones and also tell you which one I chose and why:

  • Dealers and the open market; there are car dealers and open markets in most big cities, where your car can sell almost immediately. This option is great for people who want to sell their car immediately, at a potential financial loss too but the gain here is time.

  • Online portals; as mentioned earlier, there are so many online portals now where you can sell your car. All you need to do is get nice photos taken of your car, know its basic specs (you will find most of them in the registration book) and ideally not give your own personal number out especially for women; either buy an extra sim or ask a male friend to help (remember; nothing wrong with needing or asking for help). Trust me, these calls can get annoying and I wouldn’t want so many strangers to have my personal contact. This could just be my personal preference and you can discard that if it doesn’t bother you.

  • CarFirst; a new service that allows you to book an appointment, walk in and sell your car at the spot in a nice, clean environment. They have service centres spread all across Pakistan and I found them to be very good. The process and payment was both clean, clear and convenient. I didn’t have to deal with more than one person and I understood the process and felt very comfortable doing it. Within a day, my car was sold! (Note; there is some haggling margin there. If they offer a price that doesn’t suit you, tell them what does!)

Sounds pretty straight forward now but trust me, I learnt these things with great difficulty over a period of two months. Eventually when I sold the car, of course there were those who said an online portal could have gotten me a better price but then, here’s the most important lesson: there is ALWAYS a better deal out there.

Whether you are selling a car. Buying one. Or doing anything else in life. Our job is to not sit around and figure out what the best possible deal is but to figure out what works best for us, given all the considerations, in this present moment.

If I weighed in the convenience, the time it saved me, also the confidence it gave me, I was okay with losing a Rs20-30k on my deal (Which is also someone else’s opinion and not a fact!). I learnt those that do this regularly also do it knowing that the idea is to make an informed decision, to take calculated risks. To take a good deal when it comes.

There will always be people suggesting a BETTER mechanism. Listen to them. But remember, selling cars and buying them is also an art and not just a science and what works for them, might not work for you. In the end, do what you feel is right k,eeping some of the consideration mentioned above, in mind.

The rest, all those debates on which car is the best and which isn’t is all drawing room conversation. Indulge in it over samosa and chai; investing your emotions more in the samosa than in the debate.

Note: the writer is not an expert in selling or buying cars. She has narrated her own personal experience and some basic learnings in the hope it might help someone out there.