Department | Vehicle Purchasing

How To Sell Your Used Car Yourself

When it’s time to sell a car, many people will use it as the trade-in for a newer model. That decision may cost the seller money – big money. A person who sells the car on his or her own has a better chance of making more cash in the deal. In turn, those proceeds can be combined with getting the best auto loan to buy a dream car. With some preparation, anyone can sell a used car.

  • Make it shine: Start by washing the car or truck and vacuuming its interior. But to really make it stand out, invest some energy and a little money to wax the vehicle and shampoo the seats and carpet. Don’t forget to clean the trunk as well.
  • Do reasonable maintenance: An oil change is critical to keep a car running in top form. Why stop just because you’re selling it? While under the hood, check all fluid levels as well as belts and hoses. If the car requires much more work, stop and think about it first. If repairs would cost more than the car is worth, don’t do them. Be honest with the buyer if something obvious is needed. It will save you hassles later.
  • Price it right: Setting the sales price doesn’t have to mean guessing or wishful thinking. There are directories and other references that indicate what cars similar to yours are worth. Also, look at ads to see what others are setting as prices for vehicles like yours.
  • Tell the world: Unless you really want only newspaper readers to see your ad, save your money. Classified ads on the Internet are read by more people, and they’re free. Some Web sites also are dedicated to car sales. A number of them will even let you upload a picture of what you’re selling. When listing contact information, use a cell phone or e-mail address to protect your privacy.
  • Show and tell: When someone wants to see the car, ask a few questions, too. Try to get a sense whether the buyer is serious. If you like what you hear, agree to meet the person in a public place. This is a way to keep yourself safe. If the person wants to drive the car, be cautious about getting inside. If the destination is the buyer’s mechanic for a checkup, offer to drive the vehicle there.
  • Turn it over: While the buyer is getting a cashier’s check or cash to pay for it, get the vehicle’s title and endorse it so the new owner can get it registered. Some states require official title-transfer forms. If you owe money on a car loan, alert your lender of the sale and make arrangements to pay off what is owed. Don’t forget to create a receipt that reflects the terms of the deal. In most cases, that simply is a statement of the selling price. And finally, give the buyer all keys to the vehicle.