We’ve written before about what you should know when buying a car. But what if you’re selling a car? Whether you want to upgrade your ride to a newer model or if you simply need to part ways with your current vehicle, the selling process requires preparation. Today, we’ll walk you through the process of selling your car with this step-by-step guide, ensuring you have a smooth and successful car sale.
As you prepare to put your car on the market, be sure to make the car ready for any potential buyers.
First, you’ll want to thoroughly clean your car, both interior and exterior. Clean, well-maintained cars make a good first impression on buyers and can often increase the offer you receive.
Next, assess the overall condition of your vehicle. With a thorough look over the body and mechanical components of your car, you’ll have a better idea of any necessary repairs you’ll need to address before selling. Small repairs and maintenance like minor dents and scratches or replacing worn-out brake pads improve both the appearance and functionality of the car.
If you’re not sure about your vehicle’s condition, schedule a pre-sale inspection with a trustworthy mechanic. These inspections help you identify any hidden issues your car has and allow you to address them before listing.
When you sell your car, it will be important to gather all of the needed paperwork. The following are the essential documents that you’ll need to sell your car.
By proactively obtaining and sharing these documents, you’ll display transparency that buyers will appreciate, and it can greatly streamline the selling process.
The right price can mean the difference between selling and not selling. When you set your vehicle at the right price, you’ll attract the right buyers and be more likely to make a successful sale. While the price you sell your car for is technically up to your discretion, the fairest and smartest price will be influenced by a variety of factors, including mileage, model year, general condition, and the demand in your local market.
If you want a better idea of your vehicle’s current market value, you can look at local listings for similar vehicles in your market, as well as consult online valuation tools like Kelley Blue Book. Other factors can also influence the price of your car, such as transferable warranties, how recently you’ve replaced tires or brakes, and more.
There are two primary options for selling your car: you can either trade it in at a dealership or sell it with a personal listing. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each arrangement.
Trading a car in or selling it for instant cash to a dealership can be a convenient option that simplifies the transaction from the seller’s standpoint.
Selling through a personal listing is a great option if you want to prioritize selling for a higher price and have the time to put into it.
If you want to give your listing the best chance at attracting buyers, you’ll want to go for quantity in the places you post. Some of the most popular places to post car listings are online markets like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and any number of automotive classified sites. You can also attract “real-world” attention by placing a “For Sale” sign in your car’s window and posting about it on social media to leverage your personal and professional network.
Cars are significant purchases and have a lot of influence on a person’s daily life, so buyers will expect your listings to be detailed so they can make an informed decision. You’ll want to be forthright about any and all relevant information about your vehicle, including items like the following in your listing:
When selling anything privately, especially a vehicle, it’s crucial to be smart about your own safety and privacy. Remember these essential precautions as you sell your car.
Which forms of payment are you willing and able to accept from buyers? In order to keep yourself safe from possible scammers, make sure that you only accept forms of payment that are both traceable and secure.
Some of the most common payment options are:
It’s generally recommended in vehicle sales to avoid accepting personal checks or large sums of cash. There’s no way to be sure a personal check won’t bounce after the sale, and cash, especially in large quantities, exposes you to the risk of accepting counterfeit bills. In either case, you’ll be out a lot of money, and the fraudulent buyer will be miles away with the car.
We mentioned earlier that you’ll need a title to sell your vehicle. While there are legitimate situations that cause you to not have a title, be advised that cars without titles can make potential buyers suspicious, so you’ll have an easier time selling if you do have one on hand. So what do you do if you don’t have a title? That will depend on the reason you don’t have it.
If your car has a title, but you can’t find it, it’s usually pretty simple to apply for a duplicate title from the DMV of whichever state the car was registered in. All things considered, this is generally fairly cheap, anywhere from $25 to $100.
It also might be possible, depending on your location, to transfer ownership of the vehicle with your state’s DMV. This arrangement allows you to sell the vehicle to a buyer, but it will still require the buyer themselves to request a replacement title. You’ll have to work this out with your buyer as a term of the sale.
Though most vehicles these days have titles, this wasn’t always required. As recently as 1975, many states didn’t issue titles. If you have an antique car that never had a title, you might not be able to get one from your state. In these cases, you might be able to make the sale work with just a bill of sale. In many states, the DMV might have a template for making your own bill of sale, but even if it doesn’t, you’ll only need a few pieces of relevant information:
If you have a car that is inoperable, was abandoned on your property, or has made its way to you legitimately without a title, you also have the option to sell it for parts to a junkyard. Know, however, that this is only an option if the car does not run and simple repairs will not fix it.
Though challenging, selling your car can be an exciting process. If you follow the steps in this guide, you’ll be well on your way toward a successful sale. Motus wishes you good luck with your car sale!