How To Sell Your Used Aftermarket Parts Online

Selling anything online can lead to a lot of exposure. Staying safe while getting a fair deal is the entire game.

byChris RosalesJul 7, 2022 8:00 AM
How To Sell Your Used Aftermarket Parts Online
Chris Rosales
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Selling things online genuinely, truly, sucks. I’ve endured more than my fair share of “is this available?” inquiries and in-person lowballs to know some tips and tricks about selling parts. More than getting your money’s worth, it’s all about being able to get a fair price for the parts while having a safe transaction where everyone is happy. Being able to get rid of stuff without waiting months is always a plus, too.

The main challenge with selling stuff on Facebook and Craigslist are the many unspoken rules and tidbits of knowledge that go a long way in avoiding a scam or time wasting. It can be a long, painful process. I’ve made the mistakes for you. Let’s dive in.

Listing and Pricing

A good listing will maketh the sale. Detailed photos, a good description, and a fair price will make life much easier for everyone. Especially the fair price. 

Scams are abundant on the popular platforms, and there are ways to put potential buyers at ease with listings. With photos, taking as many pictures of the part or parts can help put buyers at ease. Sometimes, buyers will want proof that it’s actually your part rather than a photo lifted off of an image search. This is when getting some index cards and writing some identifying information in each image helps. The photos don’t have to be pretty like a car listing. All that needs to get communicated is condition.

A detailed description including some parts fitment information, condition, and usage helps. I also tend to put the price in the description, along with contact information, but it goes without saying that it’s preferable to avoid putting any sensitive information on the internet. A phone number is mostly safe, though it’s best to use an email relay like Craigslist or a messenger app like on Facebook and Offerup. 

Pricing is the mysterious key to this puzzle. The price can determine if a sale takes hours or months, and that depends on philosophy more than anything. Once I decide to sell something, I’d rather have it gone than have top dollar for it, but that will be different for different people. Generally speaking, used aftermarket parts sell for much less than the original price, typically 40% discounted, if not more. There are exceptions. It seems like intakes are $100 to $150 and tires resell at around a 60% discount, even if the tires are still brand new. For example, I’ve sold many sets of lowering springs and coilovers after seeing a project through. Generally, a $250 set of lowering springs will sell for $100 to $150, and a $1200 set of coilovers should sell for about $700. 

My completed ad for an intake. Note the fitment information and use of Mk6 GTI instead of 2010 GTI. It searches better on these sorts of listings. | Chris Rosales

Some exceptionally rare parts have the added annoyance of speculation. Rare old parts tend to be worth much more money than new. I don’t have much guidance for those, other than they are generally old Japanese tuner parts and looking at previous sales like Ebay auctions. Either way, pricing is crucial and directly related to how much time is spent waiting around for the part to sell. Envision it as a bell curve. Keep it in the middle.

Communication

Once there is a fish on the line, a transaction can begin. These days, shipping is easy to arrange, and there are many safe places to meet for an in-person exchange. There are still crucial ways to protect yourself in either of these situations, and it all starts with conversation. 

Sussing out the vibe of a buyer takes a seasoned bullshit detector. The truth is that there are plenty of people who will waste time you’ll never get back. Like the hordes of “Is this still available?” messages from the Facebook Marketplace preset. There are also obvious bots and scammers that will try to pass as human but have minor mistakes that give them away. On Craigslist, phone numbers with far away area codes and an exact copy-paste of the listing title in the text message are irrefutable red flags. 

A few examples of scammy messages I've received over the years. Note the insistence on non-guaranteed payment methods over long distances. | Chris Rosales

The issue of bots isn’t massively serious on FB Marketplace, but they exist. An instant red alert are DMs that arrive separate from the listing. There is a good reason FB listings have a dedicated marketplace inbox; it provides legitimacy and security. If a message comes through a direct channel, it’s a little suspicious. Bad grammar can be a red flag, but it’s sometimes just a reality. It’s all about looking out for your own time and minimizing time wasted. 

It’s fairly easy to feel if someone is actually interested in buying an item versus them just wasting time. Questions are par for the course, but if there are too many, I tend to cut to the chase. If the questions being asked were already being answered in your excellently written listing, it’s likely that this is a time waster. At least in my experience. It also just annoys me. I’ve found that in the dozens of good transactions I’ve had, most are just setting up a time and place or a shipping date rather than asking questions, all thanks to serious buyers reading a good description.

Then comes the discussion of payment.

Closing the deal

This is the second and most important stage of the sale. Doing the payment right is the fine difference between getting scammed and getting paid. In my opinion, there are only three options: cash in person, Venmo/Zelle in person, or Paypal merchant for remote deals. 

Understand that Venmo, Zelle, Cashapp, and others like it essentially act like cash. Using it to send or receive money without physically meeting the person and handing the part over is incredibly risky and is a popular way to scam and get scammed. Only accept payment in this way if it’s an in-person transaction where cash would be otherwise used. Make sure the money is legitimately in your account before completing the deal. 

For deals that cannot happen in person, a Paypal merchant deal is one of the safest ways to do it for one reason: The money is guaranteed. What that means is that if you pay for an item that never actually gets to you, a refund is guaranteed. The process requires some proof and can still be gamed to scam people, but it at least offers recourse where the other electronic cash services don’t. This protection is also extended to sellers for money that is received. If the buyer of your part tries to claim it was never sent, a simple shipping receipt will solve the dispute. A paper trail is important for this kind of deal.

Any other method is risky. I haven’t been burned by following the simple logic behind this and there is no reason it wouldn’t work for anyone else. Another thing, make sure to meet somewhere safe, public, and well lit for in-person transactions. Local police stations often have safe zones that are well recorded for this purpose, but a bank also does the job. 

With that, go forth and sell. Clear that junk from the garage. Free yourself for more shitbox shenanigans.