How to Sell Your Used Car

How to Sell Your Used Car

How to Sell Your Used Car
So you are looking for some quick cash, and have a used car that you would like to sell. Placing free ads on the internet to sell your used car is a fast, and easy way to sell your used car quickly, and can help you to find a buyer fast. But you need to be smart when trying to sell your car. Take some tips from the professional car dealerships, it’s what they do.

Preparing to sell your used car

When attempting to sell your car privately, learn from the things that dealers do. Attempt to make the used car as attractive as you possibly can. A prospective buyer is not in the market for someone else’s junk. Buying a used car is an investment, and as the seller, you should understand that the car buyer will view it as such.

Use these guidelines:

  1. Give your used car a thorough cleaning before trying to sell it. Wash the interior and exterior of the car. Apply a fresh coat of wax  to the exterior of the car. (Come on, wax isn’t that expensive) Remove all of the junk, papers, and stuff that clutter up the car, glove compartment, and trunk area. (Yep, you have been meaning to do that for a long time, here’s your chance) Use a vacuum to clean the carpet as thoroughly as possible, and wipe all hard interior surfaces down with armor all, use windex to  clean all of the windows in your car (Make it shine). Getting your car detailed by a professional could save some time, and would guarantee a clean car, but only go this route if you can afford it (I understand that your selling the car to make money, but think of it as a wise investment). Getting your car detailed by a professional can cost anywhere from $20 to $50 for a simple clean and wash, or can cost $100 to $200 for full detailing of your car (Depending on the book value of your car, I would use discretion).
  2. Double check all lights or fuses in the car (Make sure they all work), get an oil change (Take your car to one of those 5 minute oil change shops), and top off anti freeze, radiator, wiper fluids (or pull into a full service gas station, and have them do it for you).
  3. One of the most important things to provide to a potential buyer when selling a used car is a vehicle history report (I am sure you have seen the CarFax commericals on Television). I recommend  getting your vehicle history report from By providing a CarFax report, it sets your potential buyers mind at ease, and builds credibility and trust. Reports from Carfax are available on There are other online services that can be used as alternatives to CarFax (CarFax is the best), that offer a vehicle history report, but CarFax, I believe to be the most reputable and wisest choice, since most other people think so as well.
  4. If you have a well maintained used car (Meaning you pampered it), and you have kept it serviced regularly (Regularly does not mean once every 2 years), providing detailed inspection records records for prospective buyers can show that you have performed regular maintenance, and shows the potential buyer that you are selling a reliable vehicle (and not just some junker).
  5. Getting your used car inspected before placing an online classified ad, by a trusted mechanic, is a good idea to identify any unexpected problems that could be identified by the buyers mechanic (Yes most smart buyers will ask to have an inspection done before buying your vehicle). Most buyers will ask to have the used vehicle inspected by their own mechanic before sale (Were you thinking they would want to use your mechanic?).
  6. You should have or get a copy of your vehicle title in advance of the sale (Most car owners keep this in the glove box anyway). If you do not own the vehicle outright, and have a lien holder, call your lender and request a copy and a lien release (You might as well get the payoff price as well).  If your loan was paid off years ago and the lending institution no longer exists, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation can help you with obtaining your title (Just search online).

What is my Used Car worth?

The biggest mistake that people make when selling a car, is overpricing. There are too many free tools offered online to make this simple mistake (Set a reasonable price). Kelley Blue Book is the best available pricing tool for finding the value of a used car. There are also other similar tools available online to price your car (But not as good). The National Automobile Dealers Association’s Appraisal Guides is another (But I prefer KBB).  The “Private Party Value” on Kelley Blue Book, will be the most accurate when pricing your vehicle (Don’t expect dealer pricing). You may be tempted to try to use a condition that is better than your current car’s condition, but use the actual condition (The buyer will probably check as well). By choosing the wrong condition, you will just be wasting your time, and the potential buyers time (Bait and switch is never a wise choice to try). The potential buyers will be more critical of the car’s condition than you are (unless you absolutely hate the car, but don’t tell them that).

Another key factor to pricing your used car is location (Inflation is different across the country). The value of a vehicle will fluctuate across areas. Search online used car listings to see how many similar cars are listed for sale, and at what price in your area (within 100 miles is a large enough area). You can also do some research on local used car dealer listings in your area, to see what used car dealers are asking for a similar car (but don’t expect to demand as much as the dealers do). Do not expect to be able to ask for the same amount as dealers, because you will probably not be offering a return policy or warranty (Or are you, yeah right). If the car that you are planning to sell requires repair work, you should factor this in to the asking price. Reduce the asking price  with the expected necessary repairs (Not the price your cousin Johnny quoted you with a family discount).

Decisions on having a firm or best offer price when selling a used car.

If you decide to offer your used car for sale with a firm asking price, you could be limiting your potential market of buyers. But if you decide to allow “or best offer”, you will probably get many leads and many low ball initial offers (Be wise when choosing a price, having an asking price, and a bottom line price in your head is wise).

Decide if you should Trade In Your Car

The biggest advantage of trading in your car to a dealer rather than attempting to sell the car yourself, is the simplicity of the transaction (But maybe a little less cash in your pocket). You will also probably save time, rather than having to meet and show your car to many different potential buyers (Got a free schedule?). You can also run into potential problems with checks bouncing (Over $500 in most states is a felony, always make a copy of the drivers license). Trading in your car may be a viable choice because of the ability to save time, and potential problems, but may not yield the same price (Do your homework).

You should be able to negotiate a fair trade-in price with a dealer, that’s equal to the amount you’d get if you sold your car on your own (But not always). Never accept the dealer’s original offer. By eliminating all the hassle involved with selling the vehicle on your own, trading it in may be worthwhile (Losing $100, but saving a few days of showings, you do the math).

Donate Your Car to Charity

The main question to ask yourself when deciding how to sell your car.

  • Should I sell my car to an individual person, a dealer, or donate my car to charity?

We have already covered the first two parts of this question, but if you do not think that your car will be worth much as a trade in (By using the methods described above), or if you don’t want to go through the hassle of scheduling times to meet people to try and sell your car, donating your car to charity may be the best option (And feel good about yourself). Donating your car to charity can have a benefit of a tax write off (Can you say “Refund Check”?), and is also an act of kindness that can benefit someone in need. It is always best to check with the Better Business Bureau to research the charity before making a donation (You don’t wanna give your car to some fly by night or shady fake operation).

A claim can be made when you file your annual federal income taxes.  By submitting Form 8283 to the IRS , consult your tax advisor for specifics in your area. You will be asked to sign over the donated vehicle’s title to the charity, and you will receive a tax receipt for the vehicle (You will need this when filing your taxes).

We hope that these tips have been usefull, and Good luck on selling your used car.




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