How To Sell A Car: 10 Steps For Success

Selling your car yourself can be a great way to make some extra cash, but only if you do it right. Many people make mistakes that cost them money when selling their vehicles privately. Follow these 10 essential steps to maximize the sale price of your car and have a smooth transaction!

1. Determine A Competitive Asking Price

Your primary goal should be getting top dollar for your vehicle. To do that, you need to properly market and prepare it for sale. Take the time to research what similar cars are listed and selling for in your area. This will give you a good idea of a fair asking price. You can check vehicle valuation guides like Putnam Subaru to determine an asking price range.

2. Spruce Up The Appearance

A clean, well-maintained vehicle will sell much faster and for a higher price than a dirty or damaged one. Consider professional upholstery cleaning, carpet shampooing, and detailing. Wash and wax the exterior, clean or replace floor mats, touch up or repair any dents or scratches, and ensure the interior is spotless. Your investment in the presentation will pay off.

3. Advertise Aggressively

The more people that see your listing, the faster it will sell. Place an ad on major sites like Autotrader, eBay Motors, and Craigslist. Include plenty of high-quality photos of the car’s interior, exterior, tires, and any unique features. Post the listing on local Facebook marketplace groups and buy/sell/trade sites. Let friends and family know you have the vehicle for sale through social media and word-of-mouth.

4. Prioritize Private Showings And Test Drives

Allow serious buyers to see the vehicle up close, start it up, check for any issues, and take it for a spin. Be willing to show the vehicle on the buyer’s schedule. To ensure safety, accompany all buyers on test drives in case anything happens. Never hand over the keys to someone you don’t trust to return the vehicle.

5. Be Flexible Negotiating The Best Deal

Expect most buyers to submit offers below your asking price and be willing to negotiate to reach a fair deal for both parties. But don’t feel pressured into accepting an unreasonably low offer either. Provide facts to substantiate your asking price, share records of recent major repairs or reconditioning done on the vehicle, and stand firm on a minimum acceptable amount you’re willing to accept.

6. Handle The Necessary Paperwork

Once a buyer and seller agree on a price, there are several documents that need to be signed to legally complete the sale. These include a bill of sale, proof of registration to provide to a licensing office, and in some states a release of liability. Have these forms prepared ahead of time for a smooth sale closing.

7. Provide A Vehicle History Report

To instill confidence in buyers and potentially increase your selling price, provide a comprehensive vehicle history report with your listing. A clean history report reassures buyers about the vehicle’s past and condition, lowering their perception of risk in the purchase. Be upfront about any past accidents or other issues reported to avoid later problems.

8. Assist With Vehicle Transfer And Registration

Help guide the buyer through the necessary steps to register the vehicle in their name including canceling your own registration and insurance. Meet the buyer at your local licensing office to sign over the title and ensure the new registration and plates are issued promptly and correctly. The easier you make this transition process, the more satisfied your buyer will be.

9. Leave The Vehicle ‘As-Is”

Unless you specifically agree to make certain repairs as a condition of the sale, the vehicle is typically sold in an “as-is” condition with no warranty or future obligation. Be very clear about this to avoid the buyer coming back later with repair demands you need to address. The buyer assumes all risk for the vehicle’s performance and condition once the sale is complete.

10. Provide Follow-Up And Support

Even after the sale is done, continue to provide some level of support to the new owner in case any immediate issues come up or questions arise. Be available for at least a week or two following the sale to answer inquiries, address paperwork issues, or even help troubleshoot operating questions about the vehicle. Good customer service and support will reinforce that you sold an honest, well-running vehicle and referred them to a reputable repair shop when needed. While you have no actual obligation, the support can still go a long way.