A Message from Shift Co-CEOs on COVID-19

Like many of you, we’ve been closely monitoring the developing situation around the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and have been impacted by it. We recognize that transportation needs will continue as this crisis unfolds and are as committed as ever to helping you get where you need to go. 

The health and safety of our employees and customers is a top priority, and we want to take a moment to let you know what we’re doing to help.

For the time being, we’ve made the difficult decision to close some of our physical hubs to any customer visits. However, you can still buy a car with us without leaving your driveway.

Here’s what you can do:  

  • Shop online: We’ll bring the car to your home to test drive (virtual test drives are also available). *UPDATE: In support of social distancing, we are now offering No-Contact Test Drives. Your Shift Concierge will bring the car to you, wipe down the car and keys, and then hand it off to you to take it for a spin. 
  • Purchase online: We’ll drop the car off and waive shipping fees during this time.
  • Sell us your car: We’ll come to you to evaluate it.

In addition, we’ve implemented the following procedures for the safety of our customers and staff:

  • Monitoring ongoing updates on COVID-19 from public health officials.
  • Following recommendations for reducing the spread of germs, including frequent, sustained hand-washing and using hand sanitizers. Our Car Concierge team will refrain from shaking hands or other close-proximity interactions. 
  • Disinfecting all vehicles before and after each test drive and frequently touched surfaces at our gated storage facilities multiple times per day — that includes things like common use areas; all car keys and iPads; and car door handles and steering wheels. 

Finally, we want to give a special thanks to our Car Concierge team who are going above and beyond in continuing to serve those customers in need of transportation options. 

We hope these measures and services can help alleviate some of the stress and burden during this time and encourage you to reach out if there’s anything further we can do.

Thanks as always for working with us. 

Toby Russell & George Arison

Co-CEOs

Where can I sell my car?

We’ve all been in that stressful quandary: “Where can I sell my car?” (Ideally, without getting lowballed.) Normally, selling a car is a somewhat time-sensitive endeavor; most of us can’t wait weeks and weeks to have it done with. Whether you’re moving, need the extra money to use towards a new car or some other large purchase, or something else entirely, the last thing you need is a lot of hoops to jump through to make it happen. But we also want a reasonable price for it.

It all depends on what your situation is. The key thing is to first determine what you’re optimizing for: do you want the most money possible for your car and are willing to wait however long it sell it? Or is the exact price not as important as getting it out of your driveway quickly? As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. But there is a compromise solution that will let you get the best of both worlds.

Where can I sell my car for top dollar?

We hate to say it but… yes, selling your car private party (like on Craigslist) is probably the best way to get the most money possible for your car. Because you’ll have the ultimate freedom to negotiate with buyers, you can determine what you’d like to get for the car and work backward from there to set a good price. The (major) drawback, as you might be able to guess, is that there’s no guarantee it will sell at that price and how long it might take to find a buyer. If you’re determined to go this route, godspeed! (Here are our tips for making the process go as smoothly as possible.)

Where can I sell my car fast?

As the saying goes: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Sometimes it’s easiest to know you’ll walk away with cash in hand. Companies like CarMax and We Buy Any Car will reportedly send you on your way with a bank draft or check to deposit immediately. Pretty nice, huh? The only downside is you have to come to one of their locations.

Where can I do both?

Some companies will offer a nice compromise between convenience and price. Shift, for example, can complete transactions in about an hour and because it uses algorithm-based pricing, ensures you’re getting a fair market-based price for your car. Plus, you don’t ever have to leave your driveway. Not too shabby!

There you have it! The quick-and-dirty rundown of where you can sell your car and the pros and cons of each.

How to Sell a Car on Craigslist — Part II

So you’ve done the (seemingly) tough part of listing your car to sell on Craigslist. But that’s only half the battle. Here’s your guide on how to find your car a new home, quickly and easily.

Step 1: Get your affairs in Order

Make sure you have all your paperwork lined up:

  • Title (If you have a loan on the vehicle, contact your bank to notify them of the sale. You won’t be able to get the title from them if you don’t, and without the title you can’t complete a sale.)
  • Registration
  • Dealer and repair paperwork (if you have it)
  • Contract of sale (also known as Bill of Sale)

If either the title or the registration are missing, you’ll have to apply for a replacement with the DMV. Luckily, this is a common process that is inexpensive and straightforward.

Image via Alexa Mazzarello

You’ll want to have two copies of a contract of sale, which can be downloaded from the internet and printed out. Some sellers will have a printout of their car’s Carfax history report and KBB price as well to pre-empt lowballers or aggressive negotiators.

Step 2: Schedule a test drive

Privacy and safety is important for both you and the buyer. You may want pick a public and convenient place to meet buyers, like a shopping center, and arrange a time that is relatively safe (for example, a weekend morning). Some buyers and sellers also choose to ask a friend or family member to come along with them for added safety (and moral support!), so be ready for it to be a party.

PRO TIP: Make sure to remind your buyer the time, date, location, and preferred form of payment to avoid any confusion.

The Lease Buyout: Getting Out of a Car Lease

Step 3: Prep your car to sell 

A couple hours before your scheduled test drive, give your car a once-over to get rid of any bits of trash and other unsightly elements, take it for a final wash and vacuum, and then go meet your buyer.

Some sellers insist on being in the car during the test drive, but it’s probably easier and more comfortable for both you and the buyer to just take a picture of their driver’s license and let them take it for a spin themselves.

Step 4: Sell Your Car (FINALLY!) 

If you’ve done all your work, pretty soon you’ll find yourself in the closing negotiations. It’s normal for buyers to negotiate for a better price. Decide beforehand a price that you won’t go below. If a buyer does try to go lower than that number, don’t be afraid to say no. It’ll only be a matter of time before you find someone else.

Closing the sale
Once you’ve agreed on a price, it’s time for the paperwork:

  • Collect your cashier’s check (politely decline personal checks)
  • Fill out the contract of sale
  • Transfer the title to the buyer

Since every state has slightly different laws, it’s best to do a Google search for car sales in your state to check if there’s additional documentation required. And that’s it! Cash your check at the bank and pat yourself on the back.

One thing to be aware of: Getting your car listed is generally fairly quick, but the process of actually selling your car on Craigslist often takes much longer — several weekends on average. If you’re on the West Coast and want to save some time, Shift can cut it down to about an hour or less.

Whatever way you choose to go, happy selling!

Can you deduct your car on your taxes?

As a car company, we often get customers asking us, “Can you deduct your car on your taxes?They’re not alone: Americans everywhere are starting to think through their finances as tax season approaches. But most people don’t know all the ways that their cars can have an impact on their returns, or vice versa. We’ve rounded up some of the best tips you need to know to maximize your money. 

Your taxes and your [next] car

Perhaps the most obvious way to get the most out of tax season is if you receive a refund from the government after filing your return. The average American receives about $2,900 back on their annual tax refund. Compare that to the average used car price of about $20,000, and an average 12 percent down payment of $2,400. So it’s easy to see how that extra cash windfall can literally pay for a new set of wheels. It’s no wonder why TurboTax lists replacing your car as one of the best ways to spend your tax refund. Some people also use that cash to pay for service or upgrades to their current vehicle. 

One of the hidden benefits to putting a tax return towards a car’s down payment is that you can generally either afford a more expensive car (a higher-value asset). Alternatively, you can apply more money towards the down payment, which can lower your overall loan amount and APR. Keep in mind that high-quality used cars tend to retain their value better than brand new cars, so your money will go farther if you choose to buy used. 

Moreover, if you purchased or used a car for professional purposes (for example, a van for your catering business), you can also write that off on your taxes. Here’s a full rundown of the tax considerations for business vehicles.

Other Ways to Use Your Car on Your Taxes

Even if you don’t have a refund coming your way, you can still take advantage of some vehicle-related benefits come tax season.  You can deduct sales tax on a car purchase for local and state taxes when you itemize your deductions. (Given the large price tag of a new car, that’s a lot of sales tax).

On the flip side, if you live in certain states, you can also get a huge sales tax benefit by trading in a car. Those states will let you apply your trade-in credit to the total price before tax is applied, meaning it will bring down the overall taxable amount. So you’ll end up paying much less in sales tax upfront. 

Pro tip: Run the numbers first to see what your payments and APR might be when accounting for that extra cash. Better yet, get prequalified to get an accurate estimate of your monthly payments upfront. (Shift’s prequalification tool even lets you shop based on your predicted loan terms.) That’s some savvy financial planning.

Best Road Trip Cars

From summer trips to the beach to winter drives to the mountains, you’ll want a solid car that can handle the long distance in comfort and style. We’ve scoped out the best road trip cars that make the cut in terms of price, style, comfort, and reliability. Happy exploring!

Best for: STYLE

If you don’t have to worry about lots of space for extra riders or gear in a road trip car, and coolness is a premium, these picks are classics to consider.

2012 Ford Mustang GT Premium

2014 Audi A4 Premium

2014 BMW 4 Series 435i

2015 Ford Mustang V6

Used Car Buying Checklist

Best for: TERRAIN

Looking for road trip cars that can handle any kind of weather and road? These are some of your best bets.

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon


 

 

 

 

 

2016 Subaru Outback

2015 Dodge Ram 2500 Laramie

Best Road Trips in California

Best for: ROOM

If you’re traveling as a family (or friends), you’ll want to look for something that has the legroom and storage space to accommodate your gear and luggage. These roomy options check both boxes.

2018 Ford Expedition Limited

 

 

 

 

 

2012 Honda Odyssey EX-L

 

2015 Toyota Sienne LE

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

 

 

2017 Audi Q7 Prestige

Best for: Fuel Efficiency

Especially if you’re planning to put in serious miles, it’s worth looking into a hybrid. Unlike most electric cars, you won’t have to worry about the battery running out, but still get the benefits of fuel economy. That can really add up on long drives.

2017 Toyota Rav4 XLE Hybrid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Chevy Malibu Hybrid
Ready to test drive (or buy) one of these sweet rides? We’ve got you covered. 

Tips to Sell Your Car

Preparing your car for sale properly is key to getting it sold quickly at a good price. Whether a buyer is looking at a picture of your car online or in person, you will only have a few moments to convince them to take a closer look. So whether you choose to sell to a “private party” through a listing on craigslist, opt to trade-in to a traditional dealer, or use a full car selling service like Shift, it’s important to make sure your car looks clean and well taken care of. Here are some tips to sell your car and (hopefully) increase it’s curb appeal:

1) Clean up your car

This car selling tip may seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many cars are put up for sale without proper cleaning. Here’s what a cleaning should entail:

  • Wash & vacuum; wax is optional.
  • Clear out all of your belongings. Your entire car and trunk should be empty.
  • Wipe down your wheels, hubcaps and dashboard with car cleaning products so it looks new.
  • Clean mirrors and windows inside and out.
  • Wipe down leather seats with a leather cleaner.
Clean Car Trunk - Lexus IS
Source: shift.com

2) Consider minor upgrades

Small upgrades may be easily worth the money. You’ll be surprised how many things can be upgraded for $20-$70 that may mean you can sell the car for hundreds more. This might mean new seat covers, floor mats, headlights, or steering wheel covers — anything that will make your car look newer and more attractive. Small investments can pay off big time.

Car Inspection Repair
Shift mechanics doing a car inspection

3) Get your car checked by an ASE certified mechanic

C You’ll want to say with confidence and with a report that your car is running smoothly without any problems. This could make a huge difference for a buyer on the fence or a buyer trying to make a quick decision. It will also give you peace of mind to know this buyer isn’t going to come back a week later, fuming because something broke down or a warning light came on. You may also want to get a vehicle history report to show the buyer that the title is clean and the odometer reading is accurate.

4) Minor car repairs may be worth it

Aside from critical repairs that affect the car’s performance and mechanics, some minor repairs may be worth it when trying to maximize the sell price of your car.

Consider getting quotes to fix large, visible dents or scratches which can significantly lower the value of your car in the minds of buyers, particularly  in very noticeable areas such as the door or hood. People are more likely to be okay with scratches and dents on less-obvious areas like the bumper.

Consider other highly visible items to repair. Is your headlight broken? Is there rust from scratches that makes the car look old and worn? These kind of visible fixes can make a big difference in how a buyer evaluates your car. Generally, non-visible repairs like new brakes or tires won’t make too much of a difference in the offer price.

5) Unique Upgrades & Modifications

Keep in mind that a sleek, expensive modification to your car may seem awesome to you, but may not be what a buyer is looking for. In many cases, you will not retain the value of expensive 3rd party modifications. You may even want to consider having the mods removed if you want a larger pool of interested buyers (sometimes you can sell the parts separately, too).

This is particularly important when trying to do a trade-in at a car dealer or getting it appraised by an online service like Shift. As dealers both buy and sells cars, it needs to consider the needs of the buyer and has to be able to vouch for the modification. Thus it is not uncommon for dealers to devalue modification or outright reject cars with too many serious modifications. You may feel like your modifications are great and installed well, but keep in mind that a dealer can’t guarantee its quality and performance so they may adjust your quote.

6) Vehicle Age & Mileage

You may not be able to take back or change the age or mileage of your car, but you can be sure to sell it at the right time. Do not underestimate the psychological power of numbers. The value of your car can depreciate significantly when it hits specific milestones such as 100,000 miles or 10 years of age. If your car is nearing certain milestones, consider reducing your use of the car and selling it sooner than later.

7) Paperwork is important

Having poor paperwork can really hurt car’s sale price as well as increase the hassle of the transaction. It’s important to gather and have all your maintenance records, your title, and lien release papers ready at the point of sale. Be sure to review your documents early and correct any issues before engaging a buyer. This way you don’t lose out on a sale or be negotiated down due to the extra hassle and wait.

If all of this seems like a lot of work or you find yourself too busy to go through the process, consider an all-in service such as Shiftthey’ll pick up your car and handle everything (inspections, repairs, paperwork, car wash and sale). Good luck selling your car!

Things to Check on a Used Car

Your car is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make—second only to purchasing a home. It can be stressful, and it’s easy to forget the basics. So we’ve put together a list of things to check on a used car before you buy.

Check under the hood

This is one of the most important things to check on a used car, and should be top of your list of steps when performing a pre-purchase inspection. Check all of the accessible fluids—not just the engine oil.

All of the fluids should be filled to their full marks and clean. You can read up on how to check car fluids, but in general, this is what good fluids should look like:

  • Oil: should be honey colored. It should not smell burnt
  • Brake fluid: should be clear to honey colored
  • Power steering fluid: should be honey colored
  • Transmission fluid: should be pink and not smell burnt
  • Coolant: should be green, yellow, blue or red depending on the manufacturer

When inspecting your future ride, you’ll want to take a look at the coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid. Some modern vehicles have electric power steering and lack a dipstick for the transmission, but check what you can. While you’re poking around under there, you’ll also want to check for fluid leaks.

SAFETY TIP: Hot exposed metal can reach temperatures hot enough to burn errant hands, and opening a hot radiator cap could burst off and cause severe injury. Before your test drive, pop the hood while the engine is still cool.Checking out the engine

Pay attention to the gauges

Once you’ve checked all the fluid levels, the next thing to check on a used car is the gauges. Not all drivers pay close attention to them, but they’re really important—they provide valuable information about the health of the vehicle.

During the test drive, pay particular attention to the oil pressure and temperature gauges. Allow the vehicle to reach operating temperature and drive it at different speeds and on a variety of roads.

Be sure to idle the car and observe its behavior. Engines are more prone to overheating at idle and low oil pressure is also more likely to be apparent. This is because the oil pump is driven off either the crankshaft or camshaft, meaning the oil pump turns faster at higher RPMs, and builds more pressure.

car gauge

Listen for noises

Turn off the radio and instead listen to what the car has to say. Listen for clunks, rattles, groans and any other abnormalities. Make sure to test drive the vehicle at various speeds, both in town and on the highway. Some of the most important noises to listen for include:

  • Engine noises: knocking, rattling, or pinging from the engine indicate potential big-time problems.
  • Transmission noises: whining, growling or rattling noises from the transmission area could quickly empty your pocket book.
  • Differential and transfer case noises: whining or growling noises from the rear end and/or transfer case (if the vehicle is a four-wheel drive) are a very bad sign.

A general rule of thumb is no news is good news; quiet is good.

Check the vehicle history

A Carfax report will provide insight as to whether a vehicle has been in an accident, if it has a clean title and how many owners it’s had. Don’t buy a used car without one.

What does Carfax tell you?

Check the undercarriage

Unless you’re buying a truck or SUV, you probably won’t be able to get completely under the vehicle for a lookie loo. However, you should still make a point of getting down to peek under the vehicle, looking for fluid leaks and damaged parts.

While you’re at it, take a look at the condition of the tires. After all, paying for a new set of tires is an ugly expense after shelling out significant money for the car itself. Tires should have at least 5/32” worth of tread (2/32” is the minimum to pass safety in most states), should be free of sidewall cracks and bulges, and should have a production date less than 10 years old. On all tires produced since year 2000, the last two digits of the DOT number listed on the sidewall will list the production date. For example, in the image below, the tire was manufactured in 2007.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 2.14.22 PM
Image courtesy of TireRack.com

There, that’s it! You’re now a pro and won’t have any trouble inspecting your next used car — right?