8 steps to selling your own car

8 steps to selling your own car

Demand for used cars is high due to a chip shortage caused by COVID-19. Dealerships have low levels of inventory on hand and prices are high for new vehicles. As a result, buyers are turning to the used car market, which is good news if you want to sell your vehicle.

But before you take a few photos and post an ad online, there are some steps you need to take to get the best price for your ride.

8 steps to selling your used car

  1. Choose how to sell your car.
  2. Gather the necessary documents.
  3. Prepare your car for sale.
  4. Set the right selling price.
  5. Spread the word.
  6. Come prepared to negotiate.
  7. Be smart and careful about selling.
  8. Make the sale official.

1. Choose how to sell your car

There are three ways to sell your car:

  • Redeem it: This option only works if you are looking to buy a car from the dealership. This is convenient because you won’t have to market the vehicle to potential buyers. The downside is that you probably won’t get as much out of it as with a private sale.
  • Private sell: You’ll usually get more for your ride if you sell it yourself. However, you will have to do the legwork to find the right buyer and negotiate a concrete selling price.
  • Concession: Many dealerships will give you a free, non-binding cash offer for your vehicle. It’s quick, simple, and you’ll have a set period to decide if you want to use it.

2. Gather the necessary documents

You cannot sell your vehicle to a dealer or to an individual if you do not have these documents in hand:

  • Documents from the original sale of the vehicle.
  • The title of the vehicle.
  • All service records available.

If you are missing any of these documents, it is best to wait until you have them in hand to sell your car. Otherwise, you might face complications while finalizing the transaction.

3. Prepare your car for sale

Once you’ve decided how to sell your car and gathered the necessary paperwork, it’s time to get it ready for the market. Ideally, you want to spruce up the exterior and interior of the vehicle to make it shine to potential buyers.

Get your car professionally detailed or spend some time vacuuming and washing the carpets, cleaning the mirrors, washing the exterior, applying wax if needed and shining the tires. Also plan to have the windshield repaired if it is cracked and hire someone to fix any scratches or dents.

Also, bring your vehicle in for an oil change. If your tires or brakes are nearing the end of their useful life, now is the time to have them replaced. You should have the mechanic replace burned-out headlights and windshield wipers that aren’t working properly.

4. Set the right selling price

If you plan to sell your used car privately, price is a big issue. Too high a figure could discourage potential buyers and selling at too low a price means you will get less than you should. So you want to do your research to make sure the car is priced right, while leaving a little wiggle room for negotiation.

You can use several tools to determine the current value of your car. Use the “The value of my carfrom Kelley Blue Book or consult Edmund to get an idea of ​​what your car is worth if you sell it privately or trade it in at a dealership. Or you can use Autotrader or refer to the classifieds to find similar listings in your area.

5. Spread the word

Tell everyone in your network that you are selling your car and ask them to spread the word. You can also post on social media or place an ad on sites with a used car market – like Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book or – or in the local newspaper.

When creating the ad, include photos that capture multiple angles of the car’s exterior and interior and what it looks like under the hood. The ad should also mention the year, make and model of the vehicle, its current condition, the asking price and acceptable payment methods. Also include features that set it apart, such as an extended warranty, fuel economy rating, or heated seats, and why you’re looking to sell the vehicle.

6. Be ready to negotiate

Selling your car to a dealership or trading it in leaves little room for negotiation. This is not the case when selling to an individual. You will want to come to the table with the lowest price you will accept in mind and be prepared to make a counter offer.

Start the conversation by letting the potential buyer throw in a number. If the number works, it’s up to you whether you want to ask for more or go ahead with the sale. But if the number is too low, counter with a slightly higher price that is above the minimum you are willing to accept. Most importantly, be prepared to walk away if you can’t reach a fair deal with the other party.

7. Be smart and careful about selling

Security is of the utmost importance when arranging the sale of your vehicle with a private individual. The seller may wish to pay in cash, but suggest that they use a contactless payment processor, such as PayPal, to make payment instead.

A cashier’s check is another viable option. The check is guaranteed cashed since the funds are immediately withdrawn from the buyer’s bank account when the check is issued, and the check does not include any identifying information.

If the potential buyer wants to test drive the vehicle before agreeing to buy your car, call your auto insurance company to make sure you’ll be covered in the event of an accident. Also choose a populated area and agree on a route before it begins. You can also bring someone else with you for added security.

8. Formalize the sale

You’ve finally found the perfect buyer and can’t wait to close the sale. But before you can consider this a done deal, you’ll need to go to the local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) with the buyer to transfer the title of the vehicle to the new owner.

Keep in mind that this process is different in every state. Some may require you to provide proof of a successful inspection or contact your county tax assessor’s office. You can find the rules for your respective state at

Next steps

Whether you’re looking to earn some extra cash or trade in your car for a new one, these tips will help you get the best price for your ride. However, a private sale is probably your best bet if you want to maximize your profit. Be sure to get a few reviews before listing your ride to ensure it’s priced right and sells out in record time.