TECH EDITOR’S NOTE: As always, please send your feedback to me and consider submitting an article about any Porsche tech-related issue you wish. Contact me at: George@ONeillAdvisors.ca
You may think someone who advises others about buying and selling great businesses and associated real estate would have no problem selling his own belongings. I must admit, when it came time to sell one of my Porsches, I delayed the process for as long as I could.
Oops, I sure hope my wife doesn’t read this!
Early last year I agreed with my wife that since I did not drive my 996 very often it was time to sell. With another Porsche already in our garage and us filling the days with either building our business brokerage or spending time with our girls, we really had very little free time to enjoy the car. Our 996 was still in excellent shape with low mileage, but almost every time I brought the car out from storage there was something requiring attention. On one occasion the electric seat was not working. Another time the cabrio top needed adjusting, and on and on. It is so true that perhaps the worst thing someone can do to a vehicle is to just let it sit.
After missing last year’s spring selling season because of my foot-dragging, purposefully missing the best time of year to sell a convertible, I continued to drive and enjoy the car for the balance of the year until I put it away for the winter. With the arrival of spring this year and my wife fed up with my procrastination, I had to do the deed. As soon as the snow was gone I prepped the car for sale.
Selling a Porsche, or any other special interest vehicle, is not like selling the average daily-driver. First, the condition of the car is obviously important, but what is also perhaps as important is the complete history of the vehicle in terms of the number of owners, where the car spent time and how it was driven, any accident records, and how the car was maintained. Does everything in the car work properly with all factory provided tools and documents included? Any gaps or inconsistencies will raise a buyer’s alarm bells, and will most likely devalue the vehicle.
The main lesson I was reminded of through the process of selling my 996 (and by the way, this also applies if you are selling a business) is to start collecting and checking the accuracy of the records early, so you have everything in proper order by the time you are ready to talk to potential buyers. I found material errors in records that I had to get corrected, just in time as it turned out. Had I been unable to rectify the items, I think the buyer of my 996 would have walked away or tried to renegotiate the price downward.
To sell a general purpose vehicle in Ontario, you should provide at a minimum the following reports to potential buyers: Used Vehicle Information Package, safety certificate, as well as the Drive Clean report. When selling a Porsche, in order to get the highest price, you should also provide complete maintenance records, copies of invoices for all vehicle repairs, a current CarProof report, all original sales documents, owner’s manual, books and tools.
If you can produce documents validating the ownership and mileage history of the car, as well as everything that has been done to maintain the car, you are on your way to earning top dollar. Additionally, if you have the original window sticker and receipt from when the car was sold new, do provide those, as enthusiasts absolutely love to have these types of documents for their car. I originally bought my car, almost new, from a Porsche dealer. I was satisfied at the time the history of the car was solid, and that indeed turned out to be true when I finally got around to validating that history when I began the process of collecting the documents to sell the car a number of years later.
But as I was to learn, during the almost ten years I owned the vehicle some of the records became incorrect. Specifically, more than one mileage reading recorded at the bi-annual Drive Clean checks was not correct when listed on the CarProof report. Lower mileage was recorded in later dates than earlier dates, which one could assume meant the odometer may have been tampered with. It was not, since those recordings were in error and the report also had an accident listed, which had never occurred. These are serious issues that can dramatically decrease the desirability of a Porsche to potential buyers. It is important to understand that CarProof reports are trusted by many buyers to research the actual history of specific cars they are interested in purchasing. It’s crucial the CarProof report for your Porsche is accurate.
First, I must say the folks at CarProof were very helpful and listened to my concerns. I was told they would contact the police to see what more they might be able to learn about the accident that was reported. I also asked that if I was able to provide evidence the mileage history was incorrect, would they update the mileage portion of the report? The agent at CarProof agreed. I then called the Porsche shop that I had always taken the car to for service and asked if they could print out the service records for my car, and they were happy to do so. I received the report just a couple hours later via e-mail, and compared the date ranges around the times my Drive Clean tests occurred and was able to establish the proper mileage readings. I forwarded this information to CarProof and they went ahead and corrected the report for the car. One problem solved, now one to go.
I turned my attention back to the accident line item, and CarProof was able to obtain from the police a bit more information and they said it seemed the car may not have been actually involved in an accident (which I knew it was not) but may have been a party to an accident meaning the license plate may have been recorded by the police as part of some accident investigation without the car actually having participated in the accident (again, something I was never aware occurred). The police records had no more details, so CarProof basically said they could not do anything more to help, since they could not find a way to validate my claim the car was never involved in an accident. They agreed the record was unusual, but on this alone they could not take my word the car was accident-free. They suggested I try calling the police directly to see if I would be able to obtain any additional information, so I did.
When I spoke with the duty officer at the accident reporting center for my district, he honestly did not seem very interested in helping me, and I also got the sense he really did not like the ability of the public to be able to see such records in reports like CarProof. Transparency does require people to pull up their socks and do things right, since in my opinion sloppiness in reporting was a factor in the record I was trying to fix, causing me lots of aggravation and possibly the loss of the sale of the car. I have no tolerance for laziness and people taking shortcuts and not caring about the implications of actions on those that come later in a process, whether it is associated with the sale of a Porsche or a business. Despite the attitude of the officer, and perhaps because I like to negotiate when there is a real purpose, I dug in and committed myself to finding a way to get this injustice resolved.
After much dialogue back and forth over two weeks with me as the middleman between several people at the police and CarProof, I was finally able to demonstrate to CarProof that since the records the police had were clearly lacking in sufficient detail to support their claim the car was really involved in an accident, and since all my other records did not indicate any accident damage was ever observed or repaired by my garage, and since no insurance company reports were ever reported about damage to the car, CarProof finally believed the evidence was stacked in my favour and they would update the report to remove the accident line item and put in their internal file a note indicating why this item was resolved in this manner. With that, I now had a clean CarProof report to match the reality of the actual history of the car. With a sigh of relief, I was able to sell the car at the price I wanted. Here are my top five lessons in getting your Porsche technically ready for sale:
1) Each time you visit a Drive Clean test centre, check your car’s mileage to ensure it is recorded accurately by the technician in their system. Also check the mileage recorded by your service shop each time maintenance is performed to ensure their records are correct.
2) Check your car’s CarProof report as soon as you are thinking about selling to confirm everything is in order. If it is not, immediately take steps to resolve the report since serious buyers will not pay the best price if they sense inconsistent odometer readings (as this could be an indication the true mileage is more than what is being reported) or if the car has an accident history. Reporting errors are sometimes made, and can be corrected if you have the proof.
3) Ask if your maintenance garage is able to provide a history of your car’s service records. Also, keep your own records and receipts of all maintenance and repairs so you can show these to potential buyers.
4) Ensure everything in your car is working properly, and drive your car often to keep it in top shape.
5) Provide all documentation and tools with the car, covering as much history about the car as possible. Porsche buyers are buying more than just the car, they are buying the associated provenance. The more information you have validating your claims about the car, the more your car should be worth to them.
Selling a Porsche for what it is really worth involves getting the technical records correct. My experience has been it is worth the effort required. If you proactively implement my top five lessons, it may not require that much effort at all.