How To Sell A Car: 8 Tips For Success

If you are considering selling your car, it may seem difficult to determine where to start. Several options will help you make informed decisions, from choosing a buyer and determining an asking price to navigating negotiations. Keep reading to learn how to sell your car with these eight tips.

How To Sell a Car

Once you have decided to sell, here are eight tips for success that will help you arrange for the best possible sale:

  1. Decide if You’ll Sell to an Individual or Dealer
  2. Establish an Asking Price
  3. Spruce Up Your Car
  4. Advertise the Sale
  5. Contact Buyers
  6. Arrange Test Drives
  7. Negotiate
  8. Finalize Sale

Decide if You’ll Sell to an Individual or Dealer

If you would like to sell your car, it is best to consider if you would like to sell it to an individual or a dealership. Several factors, such as your intended timeframe, the price you are looking to sell it for, and your unique circumstances, will help you to determine how you would like to sell your vehicle.

Selling to an Individual

There are several pros to selling your vehicle in a private sale to an individual. Not only will you be able to save money on dealer overhead costs, but you also are more likely to receive a higher price for your vehicle. In addition, selling privately allows you to negotiate with buyers to get the price you want.

Selling to a Dealer

Selling to a dealer is a fast and convenient option if you want to avoid navigating the selling process yourself. Several pros of selling to a dealer include cost-free listing and selling, the possibility of reducing your sales taxes, and a reduction in the amount of communication and negotiating you need to do with potential sellers.

Establish an Asking Price

Your vehicle's asking or sales price is largely based on its quality, maintenance, and current condition. Understanding your car's value will help you ensure that you are getting the best asking price possible. Getting a mechanic’s assessment, checking the market, and using tools on Kelley Blue Book are some of several expert-recommended tips that we suggest you use to get the right price.

Tips for Setting the Right Price

Get a Mechanic’s assessment: Scheduling an inspection of your vehicle from a certified mechanic is an excellent way to understand your vehicle's current condition better. A mechanic will check for potential engine issues, broken car features, and any maintenance issues to help you determine the value of your vehicle. An inspection will ensure potential problems are fixed before the car is listed on the market.

Check the market: Studying the market is an essential step when selling a car. Sites such as Edmunds, U.S. News, and AutoTrader can help you to discover the listing prices for similar vehicles in your area. These prices can provide a good jumping-off point for determining your car's asking price. It is important to remember that, although vehicles may be listed for a specific price, they may not sell for that exact price. Location, season, mileage, and condition can alter your car's current value.

Use Kelley Blue Book Tools: The valuation site, Kelley Blue Book, offers a range of resources for sellers to help them determine the value of their vehicles. Kelley Blue Book’s Condition Quiz evaluates your vehicle's exterior, interior, and mechanical features. Kelley Blue Book also provides valuation tools such as their “My Car’s Value” search engine, free dealer price quotes, vehicle history reports, and more.

When using valuation tools, you will want to include as much information as possible about your vehicle. You should include your vehicle's make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), current condition, mileage, trim level, special features, and other relevant information.

When to raise your vehicle’s asking price:

  • If you have a transferable extended warranty for your car, you should raise your asking price.
  • If you have recently invested in new features, such as brakes or tires, the value and price of your vehicle will increase.
  • If you have kept up with the maintenance on your car, such as your 60,000-mile check and scheduled maintenance inspections, your vehicle’s asking price will be higher.

When to lower your vehicle’s asking price:

  • If your vehicle has recently been in an accident, your sale will have a lower asking price.
  • If you have not kept up with maintenance for your car, the selling price will be lower.
  • If you want to sell your car quickly, lowering your asking price can speed up the selling process.

Spruce Up Your Car

Sprucing up your car is a great way to increase buyer interest and maintain a higher asking price. Buyers are more likely to pay more for a vehicle if it appears in good condition and is clean and well taken care of. Getting your car detailed is an excellent idea to make a good impression on potential buyers, revitalizing the seats, carpets, glass, and interior surfaces.

You may also want to replace worn tires or floor mats and invest in a quality air freshener to give the car a fresh and clean appearance.

Advertise the Sale

Advertising your car is an important step in the selling process, regardless of if you choose to go through an individual buyer or a car dealership. We have broken down your advertising process and the differences between selling privately and going through a dealer.

Advertising for Individual Buyers

When advertising for individual buyers, sites such as Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book offer exclusive services that promote and advertise your car to thousands of buyers in your location. Including high-quality photos of your vehicle, alongside detailed descriptions, will help your listing get attention.

What to include in your advertisement for individual buyers:

  • A description of your vehicle that points out its best aspects, such as high MPG, low mileage, and any other special features.
  • Describe the current condition of your vehicle and include your car’s VIN so interested buyers can receive more information online.
  • Mention why you have decided to sell your car, as this is a common question asked by prospective buyers.
  • Include your asking price and determine if the price is negotiable. To do this, post your vehicle's Kelley Blue Book value and your asking price and specify you are open to best offers or if your asking price is firm or can be negotiated.
  • Clarify which payment options you are willing to accept in your ad to help weed out buyers who cannot use your preferred payment options.
  • Include plenty of photography of your vehicle showing different features and aspects of the car. It is a good idea to include photos of the interior and exterior of the vehicle so that buyers can get a good idea of what the car looks like.
  • List your phone number or email address if you are comfortable doing so to provide buyers with multiple modes of contact.

Advertising for Car Dealerships

If you go through a car dealership to sell your car, you may be charged an advertising fee to cover the cost of promoting your vehicle. Unlike the private selling process, when you go through a car dealership, you do not need to advertise your car individually — the dealership will take care of the advertising process for you.

Contact Buyers

Once you have listed your car, it is time to contact buyers. Including multiple forms of contact, such as your email address and phone number, can increase the likelihood that you will get interested buyers in a shorter amount of time. If you receive a phone call, email or message, it is best to respond as soon as possible before buyers have the chance to move on to other listings.

In your response, you should ask for the buyer’s name, email address, and phone number so that you can contact them and determine if they are legitimate. Whether you are calling or messaging, it is important to mention the best features of your vehicle and use professional language. Answering questions about your car honestly is a great way to set apart potential buyers from those who want to look elsewhere.

Doing background research on potential buyers by using a directory listing or following up with them via email is also necessary.

Arrange Test Drives

It is an excellent idea to recommend that potential buyers take a test drive as it can help to close your sale. To do so, arrange a date, time, and meeting place for them to take a test drive.

To stay safe when an interested buyer is taking a test drive, it is a good idea to prepare in advance and schedule the test drive route you will take.

It is also a good idea to accompany the buyer during the test drive and to take photos of their driver’s license in the unlikely case of an accident.


Whether you are negotiating a sale online or in person, several factors can help you successfully sell your vehicle.

Tips for Online Negotiation

Create urgency: It is important to maintain a sense of urgency when negotiating with buyers. If interested parties know that the vehicle could get taken by another buyer, they may be more likely to make the sale while they still can.

Remain professional: Writing in a professional manner when negotiating is a crucial element in creating trust with a potential buyer.

Price above your minimum asking price: If you price your vehicle above the asking price you are looking for, it will help you still sell for the rate you were hoping for, even after the negotiation.

Know the value of your vehicle: The more educated you are about your vehicle, the more ability you will have to negotiate with buyers for a higher price. If your car has special features, is in good condition, and is up-to-date with maintenance needs, these assets should be brought up when negotiating the price.

Tips for Negotiation In-Person

Be Honest: When negotiating your sale in person, it is important to be honest with potential buyers when asking questions about your vehicle. Not only does genuine communication build trust, but it is also important that buyers know exactly what they are paying for.

Maintain Eye Contact: Maintaining eye contact will help make buyers feel more comfortable and help you build a relationship with a buyer when you negotiate your vehicle's price.

Ask Questions: Questions about the buyer and what they are looking for in a vehicle will help you determine if it is a good match.

Be Patient: Being patient will help you get the final price you are looking for. Negotiation is a process; finding the right buyer and making the perfect sale can take some time.

Finalize Sale

When it comes time to complete your sale, retrieving your vehicle title is a good idea so the deal can be finalized. To do so, consult your state’s laws on title transfers at your local DMV or online at

In several states, it is necessary for the seller also to register the car in the buyer’s name and to pay transfer fees with state taxes. Most states require the seller to have a state inspection certificate or a recent smog check.

As far as payment methods go, it is important to ensure that you use a technique that effectively protects against the risk of fraud. Cashiers' checks or touch-free payment services such as Paypal or Zelle are all fraud-protected payment methods.

What To Do Next

Whether you are transporting your car within the same state or across state lines to an online buyer, if it is a long distance, you may want to enlist the help of a transportation provider. Carvaygo provides vehicle transportation services that are easy, seamless, and assisted with tracking technology every step of the way.

To learn more about vehicle shipping services, visit our website.

How Do I Sell My Car | Nexus
How To Sell a Car: 10 Steps for Success | Kelley Blue Book
7 Things You Should Do Before You Sell Your Car | U.S. News
How Do I Contact a Buyer for My Used Car? |
How To Safely Arrange a Test Drive When Selling Your Car | Car Gurus

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