Car-Flipping-For-YouCar flipping is a thriving business subculture. The premise is simple: buy a car, improve the car, sell it, make a profit. For independent-minded folks who want to make some money in an energetic, dynamic environment, car flipping may be an exciting--not to mention lucrative--side career. Here are some flipping basics.

Why Flip?

Flipping cars lets you geek out about your favorite topic for profit. Wouldn’t it be great to leave house, tell your spouse you’re off to work, then head off to look at and sell fine automobiles? Once you’ve broken into the flipping game, you’ll love it. There’s an enthusiastic community out there, willing to trade tips and swap stories.

How profitable is it?

That depends on how good you are. It will take some serious salesmanship and mechanic skills, a knowledge of cars, and willingness to get out and make business happen. Credible online sources about flipping profits are hard to come by, but if you can do the math, you can take a guess: buy a car for $5,000, fix it up for $500, sell it for $7,500--you’ve made $2,500. Of course, this doesn’t include costs of time and labor, but flipping is more of a profitable hobby than a full-time job.

But it’s not really about pure profit. Flipping is about getting familiar with lots of different cars, learning to maintain and appraise them quickly, and about the thrill of salesmanship. Making a sweet deal, coming across a rare vehicle, and meeting all the interesting characters involved in the flipping game will keep you going and leave you with plenty of interesting stories.

Risks of flipping?

Check your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) rulebook to stay on the right side of the law. Car flipping may in many cases be considered unlicensed car dealing (although the term “flip” is not strictly defined.) Again, you should consider this more of a hobby than a primary career.

Also, make sure you’re selling a working car. You don’t want your shoddy workmanship to endanger another person. According to Mani Ellis & Layne, product liability claims be made against companies who “[allow a] dangerous product onto the market.” You may not be a manufacturer, but a court case looking into the history of the car may get you wrapped up in a business you didn’t mean to get into.

Get Your Car Appraised

Look into a car’s history before getting involved with it. This post outlines what can go wrong. If your has been in a accident, this could greatly affect the value--and, of course, the performance!--of the vehicle. Auto appraisals are crucial not just for insurance purposes, but to get expert advice on what a car is worth. Things can have surprising value; that supposed junker you’ve stumbled across might actually worth a decent chunk of change. You can find an appraiser, and tons of general information on and discussion of appraisal, easily on Auto Appraisal Network. Check out the site entries on Diminished Value for further information.