Tips for selling your car
Last updated: February 2023
If you no longer want or need your car, you may be wondering about your options for selling it. Here's a look at some things to consider when selling your car.
Sell your car privately
Selling your car privately means you'll work directly with a buyer. Since there's little to no overhead involved (like with dealerships) when selling your car privately, you may get a higher price than you would for a trade-in, according to Consumer Reports. Keep in mind that it may take a little more work on your part, though. If you choose to sell your car yourself, consider following these basic steps.
Determine the value
First, you'll need to gather information on the car, like the title, maintenance records and original sales paperwork, says Kelley Blue Book (KBB). Sales documents can help remind you of all the features in your car, which may affect its value. You can then consult a resource, like Edmunds or KBB, to help determine what your car is worth and get estimates for both trade-in value and private sale value.
Get your vehicle ready to show
Once you've settled on an asking price for your car, get it ready to show to potential buyers. Edmunds suggests having a mechanic look over the car and provide a report on its condition. Also, have any necessary repairs or routine maintenance completed.
It's also a good idea to gather the vehicle's title and maintenance records. Prospective buyers may want to know about repairs that were made or have proof that routine maintenance was done. And, when you do make a sale, you'll need to transfer the vehicle's title to the new owner.
Edmunds recommends cleaning the car completely — inside and out. Wash the exterior, including the wheel covers and tires. Vacuum the interior, wipe down the dashboard and clean the windows. You may also want to order a vehicle history report for your car based on its Vehicle Identification Number, says Edmunds.
Advertise your car
Now that it's clean and you've got everything in order, it's time to get the word out. You can try free online listing sites, a classified ad in your local paper and, of course, a "for sale" sign in the window, says Consumer Reports. Also, don't forget social media and word of mouth, says Edmunds. Someone you know may have a friend or family member looking for exactly the kind of car you're selling.
Show Your Car
Once those calls and emails start coming in from potential buyers, you'll be answering a lot of questions. Ask some questions of your own and try to weed out buyers who aren't serious about your car. KBB suggests asking for the buyer's full name and confirming the types of payment you will accept before setting up a time to show them the car. If you don't feel comfortable with a prospective buyer, don't do business with them, says Edmunds. Remember, though, that buyers are also evaluating you. So, answer their questions about the vehicle honestly.
Trading in your car
If you don't want to sell the car yourself, trading it in at a dealership may be a good option — especially if you intend to use the trade-in value toward the purchase of another car. While trading your car in may take a little less work on your end, Edmunds notes that dealers may offer less than you might be able to get from a private sale.
You will want to do a little prep work, though. CARFAX recommends cleaning the vehicle, just like you would with a private sale. You'll also want to do some research on the potential trade-in value of your car, and bring that information with you to the dealership, says Edmunds. You may also want to have more than one dealer appraise your vehicle so that you have a few options. You can then accept one of the offers, or try to negotiate by leveraging your research or other offers.
When you're ready to part with a car you no longer need, make sure you do a little research upfront. Knowing how much the vehicle is worth, cleaning it thoroughly and completing any necessary maintenance may help you secure a good deal, whether you're selling it privately or at a dealership.