12 Tips on How to Sell Your Car

The process of selling your vehicle can seem daunting to some—between pricing your car, figuring out if you will sell it privately or at auction, or simply negotiating with a potential buyer. However, by following some easy tips and tricks, you can make the entire process much easier!

Read on for 12 suggestions that will help you sell your vehicle successfully. 

1. Understand Your Car’s Value 

Though valuing your car can be completed with specific calculations, such as age, condition, and mileage, it can be pretty tricky.

While you don’t want to undervalue your car, you also don’t want to ask too much. To figure out your car’s value, do some research online for similar models and what they are selling for. Look for vehicles of a similar style and age to get a good idea of value.

Consider how many owners your car has had, too. This directly impacts how much you can sell the vehicle for—the mileage, condition, and overall health of the vehicle need to be factored in for any necessary refurbishment margins in your pricing. 

2. Determine Your Timeline & Price

Keep in mind that your price will directly correlate to how fast you will be able to sell the vehicle. And so, you need to determine whether you want to have a fast sale for a lower price or get more money for a potentially longer sale time.

Being realistic when it comes to your car’s value is key to having a successful sale. But make sure that you do not undersell yourself—market prices will ultimately be the biggest driver for your car’s price and the overall speed of the sale. 

3. Price Your Car A Bit Higher

It might seem like an obvious suggestion, but experts generally recommend that you set a price higher than your actual target price, by about $1,000 to $2,000. The gap in cost between the projected and target amount will allow for negotiation room in your favor.

This is especially true for cars priced higher than $10,000, where potential buyers tend to negotiate in $1,000 portions instead of only a few hundred dollars disparity. You can always drop the price down later if your listing is not getting attention!

4. Determine How You are Going to Sell 

There are many ways to sell your car yourself, so deciding which route is best for you is crucial. Choose between relying on a private listing, online listing, auction, or a dealer to sell the vehicle, all of which have pros and cons, including the following:

    • Auctioning a Car—Auctions are a relatively quick and hassle-free way to sell your car. But they do not guarantee a sale at the price point you might hope for. Your car may sell for a lower fee than you reserved, or not at all.
    • Online Car Sales—Plenty of online car buying sites can take the hassle out of selling your car, but experts warn that the premium taken by these sites might not be worth it in the end. Just be aware of online valuation and other fees.
    • Private Car Sales—You can fully control the cost and negotiations by selling your car by yourself. Plus, you do not have to worry about any administration fees that can be incurred and taken off the top of your transaction total.
    • Selling a Car to a Dealer—This might be the easiest option, but keep in mind that you will likely get less than you want for your car through a dealer. A part-exchange value is an option but will be little more than a trade-in in the end.

5. Depersonalize Your Car

In much the same manner as selling a house, you want potential buyers to picture themselves inside the vehicle and feel comfortable.

So it’s important to remove any personalizations you might have added to your car before attempting to sell it, including bumper stickers, accessories, and any other add-ons. You want your vehicle to look as neutral as possible when listing it for sale.

6. Clean it Up

Additionally, ensure that your car is cleaned thoroughly before putting it up for sale. Not only should the exterior of the vehicle be sparklingly clean, but the inside should be vacuumed, shampooed, and tidied up.

If it has been a while since the last deep-cleaning, you might want to take your vehicle in to get professionally shampooed and waxed. Additionally, wiping down the wheels and shining the trim are two easy ways to get the details just right.

Ensure that all trash and debris is removed from the interior and that the inside smells great—consider investing in a new air freshener or spraying some essential oils around the interior to entice potential buyers with a welcoming scent!

7. Examine the Vehicle

Any vehicle that you are selling should be in good condition and run safely. Aesthetic considerations, such as scratches or dents, are not as important as the core machinery and engine, which should be in working order before listing your car for sale.

If you are handy yourself, pop the hood and take a peek inside to check all the inner workings of your car. Make sure everything is functioning well, and make repairs if necessary. Otherwise, you can take the vehicle to a mechanic for a checkup before selling.

8. Take Photos

Photos will be one of the best ways to promote the sale of your vehicle, so make sure to take some good shots!

Prepare the backdrop of your photos by removing other vehicles from the driveway, cropping your pets or family members out of the shots, and removing any other irrelevant objects.

Experts actually suggest that you take your car out to a park or scenic location to snap your shots—not only will you get some aesthetic snapshots, but it will prevent any personal or housing information from being included.

Don’t forget to take plenty of photos of the car’s interior and exterior, so you have multiple images to share with potential buyers. Remain mindful of the lighting and any imperfections that are visible in the photos. It’s a good idea to highlight dents or scratches for an honest sale.

Because most car listings set up by private sellers tend to have poor quality photos, if you publish good images to go along with your detailed description, it elevates your particular listing high above all others. It will likely help sell your car faster!

9. Make a List

You should have a detailed description of your vehicle for the advertisement. Make a list of the conditions of each part and everything that comes with your car, including spare keys, extra tires, or gadgets.

However, don’t fall into the trap of over describing every aspect of your selling car. People will understand that it’s a second-hand vehicle, so you don’t need to include every little dent in the description. Be honest, not overboard, in the report.

10. Collect All Documentation

Ensure that all paperwork and certifications are present in the vehicle during the time of the sale. Potential buyers might want to review important documents that go along with the car, and it will save you time if everything is already stored in the car!

Additionally, don’t let potential buyers make copies or take photos of important paperwork or any vehicle documents. You should also keep copies of all receipts for work that was done on the vehicle while it was in your possession.

11. Be Ready to Negotiate

In all likelihood, you will not get the exact price that you are asking for the vehicle. Especially when making large purchases such as automotive or real estate items, buyers tend to rely on negotiation to get a better price in the end.

So, you should be prepared to negotiate with potential buyers. But you should stick to the value of your car and not be afraid to argue back if the buyer attempts to reduce the price to below what it is worth. At the end of the day, it’s your decision.

12. Be Financially Savvy

Nothing is finalized until the money is transferred and your car is sold, so make sure you exercise financial wisdom in the final transaction. Do not hand over the keys until the buyer has paid for your vehicle and you have checked the transaction went through.

Additionally, never accept bank drafts, checks, IOUs, or the promise of a later bank transfer. You need to be paid in full before the car ownership is transferred, whether in cash or bank transfer.


Evidence of funds being transferred needs to be provided, either with a receipt or digital statement. Don’t be afraid to ask for the proof if you haven’t received it yet.

Now that you have reviewed all 12 suggestions on how to sell your vehicle, it is time to get the process started! Just remember that it may take a while to sell, so be patient and trust your gut. The right buyer will eventually come along.

For more helpful tips for car owners, check out our blog on leasing vs. buying a new car to determine the best option for you.