How To Sell a Car in 5 Simple Steps

Josh Hastings

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How to sell a car

Do you want to know how to sell a car fast?

Right now, the used car market is HOT, and you most might think that selling a car should be a simple process. However, although people want to buy a car, selling your car can be stressful. Additionally, the process can feel complicated and time-consuming when you don't know what you're doing.

Today, we will equip you with these five simple steps to sell a car quickly! Here is the shortlist:

  • Get all the paperwork ready and fill out your presale checklist.
  • State the selling price for your car.
  • Advertise your car appropriately.
  • Test drive and seal the deal on the spot!
  • Bonus: Consider trade-in offers.

One: What To Do Before You Sell

Before selling your car, there are some administrative steps you will need to take to get your ducks in a row.

You need to complete these things, so you might as well start the process early on. These tasks may seem tedious, which is why some will elect to go with simply just trading in a car, but you will often miss out on several thousands of dollars if you go that route.

If you decide that privately selling your car is the best route, start by getting your documents together, including your title, department of motor vehicle transfer forms, and a vehicle history report.

To sell your car, you need the title. If you don't have your car's title because you still have a car loan and owe, contact your lender, as they will have the title to your car. Sometimes your car loan will require you to take an additional step or two to sell your car, such as having the new buyer check in with them!

To-Do List:

  • Collect all your paperwork (visit DMV online).
  • Make sure your car has a current inspection.
  • Print a vehicle history report.
  • Collect maintenance records.
  • Title transfer: Your car's title is required to transfer ownership.
  • Do you have your vehicle's title? If not, then:
  • Check with your lender if you owe on your car.
  • Realize that privately selling your car can mean you need to be patient.

Two: What Is Your Asking Price?

Setting an asking price for your car should be simple.

Visit Kelley Blue Blook AND Edmunds to get a free quote on the car valuation. Be sure to look at the private party sale price, not the trade-in value. Prospective buyers will check out other online car buying options, and your goal is to come in just lower than the car dealerships.

Case in point, if the trade-in value for your car is $7,000 and the same car is going for $11,000 online, you could price your car around $10,000!

For a private party sale, be sure to list your sale price appropriately, as it can be the difference in selling your car or not.

To-Do List:

  • How should you price the vehicle? Start by visiting Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book.
  • Get an online car buying quote. For example, if you can sell to a private party for $17,000 and a website like Carvana offers you $16,500, you can decide to go with the quick sale.
  • List your car price according to similar cars.
  • Identify potential buyers.
  • Be aware of the psychology behind pricing. For example, $7,900 is better than listing your car $8,000.

Three: Decide the Best Way To Advertise Your Car

Optimizing how you list your car can make the difference in selling your car fast and for the most money, or not. But, first, make sure you write a detailed description for a potential buyer to get a feel for your car.

Next, identify how you will sell your car, which today usually means selling it online. The best places to sell your car online include:

  • Autotrader
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace

Some offer free listings, while others may charge. For example, Autotrader charges $49 to list your car.

Once you decide how to advertise your car, the next few steps are crucial to landing the full asking price!

Give Your Car Curb Appeal

While this might seem like a given, be sure to wow a potential buyer by deep cleaning the interior and exterior of your vehicle.

If you want to know how to sell your car, this is a pro tip, as simply going above and beyond with your car's look or even having your car detailed can mean more money in your pocket. In addition, a clean vehicle that smells great inside can give the appearance of a new car. This means you can ask for the best price!

Take Great Photos!

You have your write-up, you have a clean car. Now it is time to take some great photos to make it stand out!

The more photos you can take, the better, and this means taking pictures of the inside, outside, all four tires, the engine, the trunk, the interior, the dash, and the floor mats.

If you have had any significant repairs or perhaps a car accident for some reason, you will want to take a photo to document this to show it is corrected.

Sometimes a private seller might think hiding this is smart, but selling with integrity to a potential buyer is the right thing to do, and when they come to look at the car, you want to be transparent.

To-Do List:

  • Decide how to get potential buyers to come to see your car.
  • Will you sell it online? Be sure to list it on Craigslist,, and Autotrader. Facebook Marketplace is also a great place to list a car for sale.
  • What is your rule for test drivers going to be?

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  • Write a great description of your car, clean it, take great photos, then list your car for private sale!

Four: Sealing the Deal To Sell Your Car.

You don't need to be an expert salesman to know how to sell your car. Instead, you have to execute these steps, starting with the test drive.

Once you have a prospective buyer, you will want to set up a time to meet for the test drive. We will cover how to execute safe transactions in a minute, but for now, to complete the selling process, you want to:

  1. Set up a time for someone to test drive your car when they have an interest.
  2. Get the driver's license information from the potential buyer when they come to test drive your car. Also, make sure they are insured.
  3. Have your vehicle history reports ready.
  4. Decide how to proceed with the title transfer and sale for your state if the buyer wants to purchase on the spot.
  5. Determine how you will get paid: cash for cars, cashier's check, or money order.
  6. Complete the vehicle title transfer once you have agreed upon a price and method of payment. You may also have to create a bill of sale and note the odometer reading.

Expert Strategies for Safe Transactions

Sadly, there are scammers in the world. And, if they put the same amount of energy into a legitimate side hustle, they can make an honest living. Below are the strategies for not only sealing the deal but also executing safe transactions:

  1. Screen callers and those who reach out carefully (no foreign numbers and watch out for super high offers). BE SURE to recognize a potential scammer as they will often offer higher than what you ask or want to pay in installments, which are all red flags!
  2. Some car buyers prefer to use cash. However, a cashier's check is typically best or even an escrow service for extra protection for all parties. Get the potential buyers' full details, including names, and discuss payment expectations ahead of time.
  3. Be sure to meet in a neutral location, preferably with someone accompanying you, during the day and in public.
  4. Let them test drive the car after showing you their driver's license and auto insurance policy. If they ask for a mechanic to look at the car, be sure they pay for it and schedule it, so you don't waste your entire day at an auto repair shop.
  5. NEVER accept a check. Use safe payment methods such as a cashier's check or cash.

Five: Trade-In or Other Options?

Remember the hot used car market we mentioned earlier?

The demand for used cars has never been higher. Without boring you with every detail, rental car companies and dealerships are scooping up inventory because of the chip shortage. However, with experts predicting high car sales to last well into 2022, you might be able to avoid selling your car and make the most money by simply taking advantage of instant cash offers.

Carvana and Vroom are online car buying and selling companies that can make you money from home. They will give you an instant cash offer for your car after providing basic details like your VIN (vehicle identification number) and mileage.

From there, you will get an instant trade-in offer that, in most cases, is higher than a standard car dealership offer. Sometimes the offer is about the same as the private sales price of your vehicle, which means less hassle for you.

You can agree to sell your car, follow some simple steps, and the online company will show up at your house with a flatbed truck to inspect your car and complete the transaction!

Frequently Asked How To Sell a Car Questions:

Should I Trade in My Car?

Some people prefer to trade in their car instead of selling it simply because of the hassle, feeling like it is a part-time job. If you trade in your car, you will lose out on top dollar potential vs. just learning how to sell your car. Another option is to get an online quote from Vroom or Carvana if you want to sell your car quickly!

Is Selling Your Car Easy?

Selling your car is easy. It is just a little more time-consuming since it takes a few days to get all your paperwork together, clean your car, list it, and sell it.

How Can I safely Sell My Car?

Be sure to have your documents in a row, meet in a safe spot, have someone with you, always screen callers, and only accept valid forms of payment when you meet to sell your car!

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

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