The Best Way to Sell Your Used Car

Do you have a car that you want to sell? When you get to the point that you want to buy a new car, or if you are just trying to get rid of some of the clutter, selling your used car can be an option. However, selling your used car might not be as easy as you think. While driving around with a sign in the window can provide a little interest, and a short Classified ad might help a little, this isn’t the best way to sell a used car.

Photo by Tuftronic10000 via Flickr

In fact, that method of selling a used car can be so frustrating that many just give up and take the car to a dealer to use as a trade-in. Unfortunately, it’s possible that you could leave up to $1,500 on the table when you trade in your car. Before you give up, consider following these steps to improve the chances that you will sell your used car for a good price.

Used Car Selling Tips

Be Realistic about the Price

First of all, you need to be realistic about what price to expect. Do some research: Find out what similar cars are selling for in your area. A quick look online, or at the Classifieds, can give you an idea of what other sellers expect. You should also use Edmunds.com, or Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of what your car is worth.

As you set the price, carefully consider the true condition of your car. If your car is in “fair” condition, don’t try to say that it’s in “good” condition. Be honest about the car, and what shape it’s in. You’ll have a better chance of selling it when you are honest, than trying to convince someone that your car is worth more than it is.

Clean the Car

Before you try to sell your car, clean it up. Have it detailed (or detail it yourself) so that it is clean inside and out. Replace broken lights, and do your best to mend the upholstery. Your car is much more likely to sell if it looks as good as possible. Indeed, just as curb appeal is important when selling a home, the first impression of your used car is vital to selling your car for a good price.

Put Your Used Car Online

One of the best ways to reach more people is to use the Internet to list your car. Some newspapers offer online Classifieds that can help you get noticed by more people. Additionally, the Internet can help you reach potential betters outside your geographic area. Someone living 100 miles away might be willing to drive to pick up your car. However, if you just limit yourself to a sign in your car window and a small ad in your local newspaper, that person will never even know about your car.

The Internet can be a good way to get your car searched and noticed. Sites like Craigslist.com, AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, CarsDirect.com and eBay Motors can all help you sell your used car. You will have to pay for the listing (for some of these sites), but if a few dollars paid can result in you getting $500 more for you car, it’s worth it. Plus, these web sites give you the chance to include images, as well as more detailed descriptions. That can make a huge difference when it comes to generating interest in your car.

Use Images

Whenever you sell anything, you are likely to get better results when you post a picture. Whether it’s a small action figure, piece of jewelry, car, or house, an image generates more interest. Whenever possible, include a picture. The Internet provides you with the chance to share images. If your car is cleaned up, it will look better in the picture, and you can generate more interest.

Make sure that the image you use is up-to-date. Pay attention to the surroundings, and make sure that the car can be seen clearly, and that it’s features are highlighted. When selling on eBay, realize that you can set a reserve, and you don’t have to accept lower bids (although it might help to be willing to entertain lower bids if you are more focused on selling quickly).

Be Willing to Negotiate

Most buyers expect that some negotiation will take place as you go through the process. As a seller, you need to be flexible. While you don’t need to turn into a doormat, do be willing to budge a little. Before you advertise your car, consider the lowest you will go. You’ll want to price the car above your lowest acceptable price, and be prepared to try to get more than that amount. But have a clear idea of what is acceptable so that you are prepared to negotiate.

What other tips do you have for selling your used car?

About the Author

By , on Apr 22, 2012
Miranda Marquit
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

Leave Your Comment (5 Comments)

  1. Suresh says:

    My car is 5 years old now and planning to sell my car. Good tips.

  2. Kathryn C says:

    Great article. While I didn’t sell my car, I just got out of my car lease on swapalease.com. The best way to get out of a lease. It was so easy. At first I didn’t have any images, then I took some really nice pics and people were calling off the hook. Not much different than those online dating sites.

  3. ImpulseSave says:

    These are some excellent tips, as well as in the comments “give as much information as possible!” Also, I find it can generate even more interest if there are personal notes, like if there has only been one owner or if it has been in the family for a few generations. This helps buyers trust you. My dad is a mechanic and he always loves when cars have had a single owner for a long time: it speaks to the quality of the car, too.

  4. And the more info you can give the better. Last time I bought a used car I was amazed at how many people just put up as little info as possible and leave you guessing. If you want to sell, give as much a reason to buy as possible.

  5. Dutch Gus says:

    Also…it always helps to be friend with a mechanic. Not only can they help you fix your car and teach you how it works, they can give you an honest, un-biased opinion of what condition your car is in and how much you could ask for.

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