How to Sell a Car Easily in 7 Steps
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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).
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:
- Interior (seats, steering wheel, drivers footwell)
- Odometer (to prove mileage)
- Dashboard (car turned on to show there are no warning lights)
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.
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:
- Fuel type
- Color (interior/exterior)
- Features/optional extras
- 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.
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.
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.
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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