How do I sell my car?


Car shopping and car selling can both be tricky endeavors. When it comes to making a profit off your used car, you might find yourself seeking advice from others, or asking, “How do I sell my car?” of anyone who will listen.

Consider the confusion cleared up after you read through our helpful hints and tips on how to sell your car quickly and easily.

Similar to car buying, a successful (read: profitable) car sale is all about doing your homework. Research is key to determining the worth of you car in order to target the right buyer.

Review these eight tips, suggestions really, from those who once pleaded, “Help me sell my car,” but who have since mastered the process…It’s easier than you imagine.

All it takes is a little preparation and a plan.

Step One: Consider the Current Climate 

In other words, what does that market look like? Which cars are selling like hot cakes and is yours one of them? Some car models are consistently in demand, like family sedans. Other cars sell on a more seasonal basis, like convertibles, for example. Anything vehicle used for a workday, like a van or a truck, will also routinely sell well. Obviously, anything that is categorized as a collector car is going to take some time and patience to sell, provided you want to get the right price for it.

As with most activities, nice weather entices car shoppers. If possible, shoot to sell your car in the spring and summer months.

Step Two: What is Your Price Point?

Check out classified sections in the paper (old school) and online. Consider resources like Edmunds, which has an appraisal tool that will help you recognized the fair market value of your car. Also, Kelley Blue Book can help you understand the resale value of your car, so make sure you consult those listings as well. Figure out how much you’re willing to take for the car and then boost the asking price slightly. So, if you would accept $15,000 for your car, price the car at $16,500. This gives you some room to negotiate. It may seem silly, but keeping the numbers round separates you from the car dealerships, whose prices consistently end in 995.

Step Three: Clean Up Your Act

Seriously. First impressions are everything, and selling your car is no exception to that rule. Clean the outside and inside of your car thoroughly, taking care of any easily repaired scratches, dents, or dings. Do whatever it takes to rid the car of any lingering odors and make sure the inside is pristine. Would you buy a car that had old tissues and takeout boxes in it? Of course not. Make the car look as brand new as possible. Have your maintenance records on hand so that prospective buyers can review them and feel confident that the car has been well cared for. Spring for an oil change, or any other routine services that might need to be done before you show the car to any potential buyers.

Step Four: Spread the Word



You’re ready to sell, but how will you get the word out? Abandon the old-school newspaper ad approach. Instead, reach more people by getting cyber-savvy. Post your ad on websites like or Craigslist, but also use your own social media, whether that’s Facebook or Twitter, to share the ad. Ask friends to re-share it and spread the word further.

Let your circle of family and friends know that you’re selling the car so that they can keep their ears open for potential buyers from their professional and personal circles. If you’re still driving it around, throw a “For Sale” sign in the rear window. You never know if you’ll encounter a prospective buyer in your daily travels.

Step Five: Play It Safe and Get Your Story Straight

For a number of reasons, you might be hesitant to show your car to strangers on your home turf. Arrange to meet in a convenient, centrally located parking lot of nearby business. If the buyer wants to take the car for a test drive, go with them so that you can discuss the car and its operation while it is in action.

When potential buyers show up to scope out the car, they are also (knowingly or not) scoping out the seller. Be transparent when answering their questions and try to anticipate their questions ahead of time. Many buyers will want to know why you’re selling the car. Be prepared to address those kinds of questions because they are actually concerns, in disguise. Buyers will want to know what, if anything, is wrong with the car, and if that is your motivation for selling it. Establish an open and easy exchange right away so that the prospective buyer knows that he or she can take you at your word. Having paperwork from your mechanic or other proof of your car’s last inspection can go a long way, too. However, the buyer might want to take the car to his or mechanic for an independent review. If you feel comfortable, allow them to do so.

Step Seven: The Art of Negotiation


The art of negotiation really just comes down to how certain you are in your assessment of your car’s worth and how solidly made up your mind is, regarding what you’re willing to take for it. Make sure you have this number firmly in your mind before you show the car to prospective buyers. This will make you more confident and cut down on awkward, aimless negotiating maneuvers on the part of the seller. If you know where you stand, they will, too. 

Step Eight: Make It Official 

Check in with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the rules and regulations regarding the sale of your car. Don’t worry, you needn’t actually go to the DMV. The information you’ll need is likely all located on the DMV website.

You’ll want to check the liability factor as well. In other words, are you liable if the buyer gets into an accident after purchasing the car from you? If you own the car free and clear, simply accept the cash or check from the seller, record the reading on the car’s odometer, and sign the title over to the buyer. Depending on where you live, the license plates may or may not be included in the sale. In this case, a new title will be mailed to the buyer. You can also download a release-of-liability form from the DMB website, which documents when the car changed ownership.

If you still owe money on the car, the best thing to do is complete the transaction at the bank that holds your car’s title. Before you arrive, call the bank and ask them to have the title at the ready. After you accept payment for the car and have paid off the remainder of your loan, then you sign the title over to the new owner.

Also, make sure that you notify your insurance agent of the sale so that you can either cancel the policy you had on the car or transfer it to a new vehicle.

Put this knowledge to the test and you’ll soon be ready to rescue friends when they plead, “Help me sell my car!”