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Guide to Selling Your Used Car – How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Guide to Selling Your Used Car – How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Tips for selling your used car privately.

Best Ways To Sell Your Used, Preowned Car or Truck

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Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Step 1: Determine the Vehicle’s Worth.

Before you can decide whether or not the process will be worth the effort, you’ll need to find out exactly how much your car is worth.
A few resources that will estimate your vehicle’s current market value include:

If your car isn’t worth as much as you thought, you may want to consider it for trade-in value at a dealership instead.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Guide to Selling Your Used Car – How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Step 2: Gather the Paperwork.

Each state has its own requirements for required paperwork when selling a car; as a general guide, be prepared to have:

  • The title.
    • You’ll need to sign the title and hand it over to the new owner.
  • Maintenance records.
    • Keeping up with scheduled maintenance can increase the value and reliability of your vehicle.
    • If you’ve kept all of your maintenance records, great. If you haven’t, you can get them at the dealership or mechanic who handled your services.
  • Bill of sale.
    • A bill of sale is used to document the terms and conditions in the event of a dispute, and can release you of certain liabilities.
  • Release of Liability.
    • This form will keep you from being liable for any damages incurred after the vehicle is sold. Without it, there could be a dispute over accidents or other events that occur before the vehicle is registered under the new owner.
  • Warranty documents.
    • If the car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty or an extended warranty, you’ll want to have these documents ready to provide to the new owner.
  • As-is documentation.
    • If there are no warranties, make it clear that the potential owner will assume all responsibility for repairs and damages once the vehicle is sold.
    • You can sometimes include this on the bill of sale.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle
Step 3: Get the Car Ready.

Before you take pictures of the vehicle or list it online, you’ll need to detail the interior and exterior of the vehicle. If you decide to do this yourself, be sure to:

  • Wash and wax the exterior of the vehicle.
  • Clean the rims and tires.
  • Replace or wash old floor mats.
  • Vacuum the floor, seats, and trunk.
  • Clean the ashtrays.
  • Wash the windows inside and out.

Step 4: Take Pictures.

Be sure to take multiple shots from different angles and choose the best of your selection when you create your ad. A few shots you’ll want to be sure to include are:

  • The exterior.
    • Front.
    • Rear.
    • Both sides.
  • The interior.
    • Front and back seats.
    • Trunk.
    • Dashboard.
    • Carpets.
  • Wheels.
  • Engine.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Step 5: Find a Place to Advertise.

To advertise your vehicle properly, you’ll need to find an online classified service where potential buyers will be shopping.

There are plenty of options out there, so we’ve provided a guide to advertising your vehicle to get you started.

Step 6: Create an Ad.

Be sure to include the following information at a minimum:

  • Asking price.
    • Be sure to include if the price is firm, OBO (“or best offer”), or a quick sale.
  • Mileage.
  • Condition of the vehicle.
  • Any history of accidents or damage.
  • Modifications or upgrades that have been made.
  • Recent repairs.
  • VIN number.
  • Number of owners.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle
Step 7: Screen Potential Buyers.

After you’ve posted an ad online, be ready to respond to incoming inquires. Answer any questions by e-mail or phone, and only set up test drives for serious buyers.

This is also the time you’ll want to beware of fraud. Lay out your guidelines to determine legitimate candidates. Before setting your appointment:

    • Ask for the person’s full name.
  • Clarify forms of payment that will be acceptable.
    • Checks and money orders are riskier option, so if you accept these methods make sure you have the funds in hand before you sign over the title.
  • Make sure the buyer knows monthly payments aren’t acceptable.
    • There’s no way for you to collect if a buyer decides to stop payment.
  • Determine if the buyer is in the area.
    • National or overseas sales will complicate the process, especially if the buyer doesn’t plan on looking at the vehicle first.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle
Step 8: Give Your Sales Pitch.

The best time to inform the buyer of why your vehicle would be a better purchase than others on the market is during the test drive.

A few tips for a good sales pitch include:

  • Sizing up the driver.
    • Find out what they currently drive.
    • What they’re looking for in their next vehicle.
    • Use this information to ease their concerns.
  • Pitching the benefits of your car, such as the:
    • Fuel economy.
    • Affordability of replacement parts.
    • Performance specification of the engine.
    • Reliability and safety features.

For more information for visit your local DMV or website:

Buy Your Next Car with Confidence

Get your detailed vehicle history report in 3 easy steps:

It’s often a matter of trading price for convenience. That means that if you’re in a hurry to sell your car, or you are looking for the easiest way to sell, you should expect to get less money. But if time and convenience are not overriding concerns, you can get the best price for the car.
First, get the value of your car

Used car Syracuse - Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned VehicleWhether you sell or trade your vehicle, you should first get a reliable estimate of its value. Since most of us are not car experts, that’s the only way to know if an offer is reasonable. You can easily do that from home.

You can get the value of your vehicle online using either Kelly Blue Book’s Get Your Blue Book Value page, or the Appraise Your Car page at

In either case, you will have to answer a series of questions about your car, including the make, model, options, and mileage. They will also ask you about the condition of the car, and you have to be as honest as possible here. They will give definitions of various conditions, and you should be careful to select the one that most realistically describes the vehicle. It can make a big difference either way.

Once you have completed the questionnaire, they will provide the estimate. You should print that page, and have it ready to bring to a dealer or to show to a private party.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned VehicleThey will typically provide both the retail and the wholesale value of your car. The retail value will be what you can expect sell the car to a private party for, while the wholesale value is what you can expect a dealer to pay for the car on a trade or outright purchase.
Option #1: Trade it in for your new car

This is generally the quickest, easiest way to sell your car because you’re accomplishing the sale of your current car at the same time you’re buying a new one. This makes the sale of your current car a relatively minor effort on your part, if there is any effort at all.

But you should be aware that you do give up something in exchange for the convenience. The trade-in value that you’ll be offered by a car dealer is probably not the best price you can get for the car. The reality is that the more value the dealer assigns your current car, the less they make on the resale of that car. In some ways, you and the car dealer are natural enemies when it comes to the value of your car.

And this is just my gut feeling based on personal experience, but I believe that the trade-in value of a car at a dealership is a moving target. What the dealer gives you on the trade-in might show up as an extra charge, or a higher charge, on the purchase of your new car.

It’s a process that just seems to give too much power to the dealer. After all, you’re not just working with the dealer to purchase your new car, but you’re now adding in the sale of your current car to the mix as well. But if ease and convenience are your primary goals in the sale of your car, trading it in to the dealer is the best option.

Used car Syracuse - Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle
Option #2: Sell it to an outside dealer

Many car dealers will purchase your current car even if you don’t buy a new car from them. After all, they are all in the car selling business, and the purchase of your car represents an opportunity to sell it as a used car on their lot.

It’s not at all unlike a trade-in, since the dealer is likely to give you the lowest value possible for your car. But it is a way of separating the selling of your car from the buying of a new one, the way it works if you simply trade your car in as a down payment on a new one. That will at least give you the option to walk, and go to another dealer if you aren’t happy with what they will pay for your car.

Check around for car dealers in your area who will purchase your car even if you don’t buy a new one from them. Shop around, and work with the dealer who will give you the best offer.

One way to do this is through Autotrader’s Instant Cash Offer feature (Kelly Blue Book has a similar arrangement on their site above) . You can get an evaluation on the site, then take it to a participating dealer who will verify your car’s features and condition. If the car fits the description you’ve given, the dealer will buy it for cash, or accept it as a trade-in on a new purchase.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Guide to Selling Your Used Car – How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Option #3: Sell it to CarMax

If you have a CarMax in your area, this is definitely an option. CarMax advertises that they will purchase any car in any condition – a fact that I can verify personally.

You can schedule an appraisal online, then bring the car into the store. They will complete the appraisal in about 30 minutes, then make you a written offer. The offer will be good for seven days, which gives you a full week to shop around for another car, confident that you will have an exact amount of money from the sale of your current car.

You can sell your car to CarMax even if you don’t buy a car from them. If and when you decide to go ahead with the sale, they will pay you by bank draft. This is one of the quickest, easiest and cleanest ways to sell a car, no matter what your circumstances might be. They won’t give you top dollar for your car, but it will be an easy sale.

We recently had a 17 year old van with more than 150,000 miles on it—and in bad shape. We were moving out of state, and the van wouldn’t make the 1,000+ mile trip. In fact, the ride to CarMax to get a written estimate was probably the last run the vehicle would ever make. Translation: we were desperate to unload the van.

The process played out exactly as the CarMax website said. The car was evaluated in a about 30 minutes, and shortly afterwards we received an offer. It was only $200, but the alternative was to pay a wrecker to haul it out to an auto graveyard, where it would be pirated for parts. We would have liked a little bit more, but it was better than nothing.
Option #4: Sell to a private party

This is the best way to get the highest price for your car. Remember that at the beginning we said that Kelly Blue Book and will give you a retail (higher) and wholesale (lower) value on your car? If you plan to sell the car to a private party, your target price should be the retail value that you are given. This will be the highest price possible for the vehicle.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned VehicleThe one drawback to this method is that it will almost certainly take longer than any of the other sales methods available. You will have to advertise the vehicle for sale, then wait for a buyer. You may have to show the car several times before you actually get someone interested, and who actually has the money.

Advertise the car anywhere that you can, and preferably in places where you can do it for free. Look for online sites where you can advertise the car, post flyers at work and in businesses, like laundromats, and send out emails to everyone you know.

Once you do get a buyer, make sure that you accept a cashier’s check in payment, and close the transaction at the same bank that the check is issued by. Only then should you turn over the title of the car, as well as the car itself, to the buyer. Never accept a personal check, because they can bounce. That would force you to take legal action in order to recover the vehicle. But if the personal check issued is fraudulent, you could be completely out of luck.

Guide to Selling Your Used Car - How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Guide to Selling Your Used Car – How to Sell Your Preowned Vehicle

Option #5: Take a shot on the “We Buy Cars For Cash” offerings

Have you ever seen those signs along the road that say “We Buy Cars For Cash”? In the normal course of your life, you probably ignore them. But when you are actually in the market to sell your car, you may be tempted. But you should think of these only as an absolute last resort.

The problem with these offers is that they are usually extremely low. After all, their whole reason for making such an offer is the hope of buying a good car on the cheap. If your car is in below average condition, they may not make an offer at all. And any offer they do make is likely to border on insulting.

You are better off selling the car to CarMax, or to a local dealer. Failing that, you’ll probably be better off trading it in as a down payment on a new car.

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