How to Sell a Car Easily in 7 Steps

the millennial money woman blog post "how to sell a car"

Wondering how to sell a car? Here's everything you need to know to make the process stress free so you emerge as a winner at the end of the deal.

In this article

So you’re looking to sell your car?

Well here is all the information you’re going to need.

I know how stressful it can be trying to sell a car yourself. 

I’ve sold over 20 cars privately and there have been times when it could have saved me a lot of hassle to simply trade it in at a dealership.

I had to put in the time and effort, but in the end, it was certainly worth it when I realized I made thousands more compared to the price I was offered by the dealership.

So after years of experience and mistakes I’ve created several steps below to make selling your car easy.

person researching cars on computer

Step #1: Research the value of your car


First things first, you need to determine the value of your car by doing some research online for cars similar to yours and compare prices.

You can do this online with websites such as eBay or Autotrader

Simply type in the same make and model vehicle as the one you intend to sell and depending on how many are listed try to look for one that is a similar year and mileage, then if possible go into more detail, for example, condition, color, etc.

Once you have a rough idea of how much your car is worth, you can move on to the next step.

person looking at paperwork

Step #2: Preparing for the sale


This is where the fun begins.

You will need to gather as much paperwork for the car as possible.

This includes:

  • Car title 
  • Receipts/invoices for any work done
  • Spare keys, etc.

The more paperwork you have, the better. This helps you prove that the vehicle belongs to you and that it has been properly maintained.

person cleaning a car

Step #3: Clean the car


It’s very important to make sure the car is clean, inside and out. 

It’s the first thing the buyer will see when they view the car.

Think of it as: Eye Appeal = Buy Appeal.

Not only will a clean car increase your potential to make a sale but it will also add value to the car. 

For tips on how to clean your car, click here.

If you’re unable to clean the car yourself, then there are many services out there that can do it for you.

If you pay a little extra, you can have the car waxed and polished. 

This will cover up any small marks or scratches which in return will add value and make the car look better.

A good vacuum and wipe-over inside will transform the car too. 

Who knows, it might look so good afterward you may be tempted to keep it!

(That’s actually happened to me before).

person taking a photo of a car

Step #4: Taking pictures


So now it’s time to take some photos of your vehicle. 

You don’t need an expensive camera to do this: your phone camera will be good enough.

You need to get a snap from several different angles making sure the potential buyer can see there’s no hidden damage.

What to photograph of your car to sell:

  • Exterior
  • Interior (seats, steering wheel, drivers footwell)
  • Engine
  • Odometer (to prove mileage)
  • Dashboard (car turned on to show there are no warning lights)
  • Wheels

Another item to note: 

When capturing images of the exterior, I recommend taking a shot from each corner and the sides, front, and back.

Pro tip: Take the car to an open area so you have plenty of space to take the pictures and make sure there is enough daylight. 

It will look better and increase your chance of a sale if the pictures look good.

car with a for sale advertisement

Step #5: Create your sale advertisement


Now its time to put everything together and create your sales advertisement.

There are several websites where you can sell your car – one example is Autotrader. 

Keep in mind they do charge a small fee when you make a successful sale. 

To avoid paying a fee, you can use a social media platform such as Facebook Marketplace.

Other car sale platforms where you can sell your car:

Once you have chosen a place to sell your car, the next step is to type up a title, for example, Toyota Camry 2004 Low Mileage, Great Condition.

Things to include when writing a description of your car:

  • Make/model
  • Age
  • Fuel type
  • Engine/Transmission
  • Color (interior/exterior)
  • Features/optional extras
  • Modifications
  • Condition
  • Mileage
  • Paperwork
  • Previous owners
  • How long you’ve owned the car
  • Any recent work or new parts installed

Finish off your advertisement by uploading the photos you took earlier and use the best looking picture as the display photo. 

This will help attract more potential buyers.

Sell a car 1

Step #6: Arrange a viewing


After you’ve published your sale advertisement, you will likely receive offers and questions from potential buyers.

Once you’ve worked out which of them are genuine (expect several “potential buyers” to be time-wasters), then you can start scheduling a viewing.

When you have agreed upon a time and place to meet a potential buyer, I advise you to spend some time checking the car again. 

Make sure it’s clean and working correctly.

The potential buyer may ask to test drive your car. 

It is your decision if you’re comfortable with them driving. 

If you do agree, make sure to check their car insurance and possibly snap a picture of their driver’s license for your own records and safety.

person driving a car

Step #7: Test drive


After the test drive, depending on whether they are satisfied with everything, then they will usually do a final check and make an offer.

If both parties agree upon a sale, you can hand over the title, service records, and any other documents required by your state’s DMV.

Congratulations! Your old car is sold.

Recommended reading: How to buy a car: The ultimate guide.

Final thoughts


Selling your car privately can be an emotional roller coaster, but if you follow the steps above then it will become a much easier process. 

Whether you’re looking for a quick sale or if you’re looking to spend a little more time to find the right buyer, you will come out a winner and be much better off than if you traded your car in at a dealership. 

Do you have experience selling a car privately? Tell us about your experience below.

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2 thoughts on “How to Sell a Car Easily in 7 Steps”

  1. a9957438d1fb6abf4f53f9cdac74a944?s=50&d=mm&r=g

    As I look into selling my Porsche I was more wondering how to avoid getting scammed. What are safe ways to accept the payment? How do you avoid having your car stolen? Do y out have any tips here?

    1. 7cf4a5f3c5e0afc20c07967ca8c7397b?s=50&d=mm&r=g

      Great questions and all very valid, especially if you are selling a luxury car like a Porsche. I would say it really all starts with personal preference – how many precautions do you want to take to ensure you won’t be scammed. However, I can give you some tips that have worked for me on a personal level. First, I would say to prevent the car from being stolen, always have your car keys on your person. That means if you walk away from your car to gather some paperwork, don’t leave the keys in the ignition. Also, depending on personal preference, you may feel more comfortable not meeting the potential buyer at your personal residence. Regarding the payment option – that is also a personal preference. Some available methods could include cash or bank transfers (I would not take a check, for example). I would also reiterate what the post said: take a copy of the individual’s driver’s license and save it or give this copy to someone you trust. In the end, it’s really all about personal preference – and selling your Porsche privately may not be the best option for you. If you are very concerned about possibly being scammed, then it might be worth exploring other options such as selling your Porsche through a car dealership (although I don’t necessarily recommend this, because you may not profit as much as if you sold your car privately).

      Good luck!

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