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Your Guide on How To Sell a Car

how to sell a car

When you want to sell your car for whatever reason, you want to get the best deal. In this guide, you’ll learn how to sell your car privately, without using a broker or a dealership.

Follow These Steps To Sell Your Car

If you’re planning on selling your car, you need to know how to land an excellent offer. While states have varying laws regulating car selling, the following steps will help you sell your car privately wherever you are in the country.

Prepare Your Paperwork

Before you even list your car for sale, collect all the documents, particularly your car title, required by your state to facilitate the sale and transfer of ownership. If you’ve lost your title, have it replaced because you usually can’t make a sale without one. Some states don’t require titles for older cars, but generally you need one.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t paid off your auto loan, you’ll need to inform your lender about your intention to sell the car. In this case, your lender will give you procedures on how to make the sale without the title in hand. In most cases, the buyer pays off your loan for you, and the lender clears the balance and gives the title to the new owner.

When your title is ready, visit the DMV online to check with your state the documents you need to complete the sale. Here, you’ll get a list of downloadable documents such as a bill of sale. To make your car sell faster, get paperwork for any transferrable warranties. Also, have the vehicle’s history report and maintenance records ready.

In summary, here’s a list of paperwork you should have before selling your car:

  • The car’s title
  • Bill of sale
  • Vehicle’s history report
  • Maintenance records
  • Warranty records
  • Owner’s manual

Prepare Your Car for Sale

When you decide to sell your used car, add curb appeal to attract better offers and make it sell faster. A bit of detailing can help increase your car’s current value. Wash the exterior thoroughly and repair dents and scratches. Vacuum and clean your car’s upholstery too. You should do all these before taking pictures to make sure your car stands out among other online listings.

Conduct Online Appraisals

When selling your car, be flexible enough to request online appraisals from companies such as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. Online appraisals give you accurate information about the price of the car. Your location, odometer reading, trim level, and condition affect the value of your car, so be sure to have this information ready. You can also search online classifieds for vehicles similar to your and see how much they’re selling for.

Set the Asking Price and List the Car

When setting the price, keep in mind the power of psychological pricing. Let’s take a case where the average value of the car is $9,500. Set your asking price above by about $500, but don’t price your car above $10,000 because you’ll miss out on buyers looking for cars under $10,000. Instead, consider listing your car for $9,999.

Create Impactful Ads

After setting the price, create an ad where you mention important details about the car. Take many pictures of the car so you have a lot of options. Photos must clearly show the interior, exterior (front, sides, and back), trunk, and hood of your car. You can also include photos of the odometer reading, tires, and engine in the ad.

When the photos are ready, use social media like Facebook Marketplace and car listing sites like Craigslist to advertise your car. List on multiple sites to get competitive offers, and ultimately get the most out of your sale. When creating ads, the following are key details to include about your vehicle:

  • Make, model, and model year
  • Price and price negotiability
  • Status of the title
  • Status of the AC and engine
  • Aftermarket safety or technology features (if any)
  • Engine size, transmission type, and fuel economy
  • Powertrain type

Make your ads short but detailed. It should contain all the information a car buyer needs. For example, a buyer might prefer manual transmission to an automatic transmission. The same buyer might also want an all-wheel drive car instead of a front-wheel drive car.

Screen Potential Buyers

If you create a compelling ad and post it on several platforms, you’re likely to receive dozens of inquiries. Hence, screening prospective buyers is an important process as it helps you avoid scammers, jokers, lowest bidders, and individuals who are just making inquiries. You’ll want to protect yourself from scams and fraud.

When screening buyers, prepare a checklist so that you can remain objective and consistent throughout the process. Here is a list of things you should consider in your checklist:

  • Buyer’s maximum budget
  • Buyer’s payment plan (when and how)
  • Buyer’s auto insurance
  • Buyer’s driving license
  • Buyer’s readiness and availability for a test drive

Avoid clients without a driving license or proof that they have secured financing for the purchase. Meanwhile, don’t accept low bids because you may end up selling your car below its average value.

Schedule a Test Drive and Finalize the Transaction

Every time you get a potential buyer, schedule a test drive session with them. This way, you can also discuss more regarding finances, insurance, vehicle history reports, and service records. You can even use this opportunity to negotiate for a higher price.

Once you agree with the buyer, close the sale by accepting payment and handing over the necessary paperwork. Depending on your state, you may also need to file a “release of liability” form after signing and dating the car’s title and turning over the bill of sale.

Selling your car can be easy if you follow the right steps. Whether you want to make a trade-in, upgrade the model, or just want to sell your car for other reasons, selling your car privately earns you more money than selling it via other routes.

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

FIXD Research Team

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

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