Selling your car privately ensures you get the most money for your vehicle. You're not dealing with middlemen seeking to take a cut so they can resell for a profit. You're dealing directly with the end user, and if your patience levels are high and your patter is strong, you could get a very respectable sum by selling your car privately.
In these steps, we'll show you how to sell your car privately for the most amount of money.
Discover the Market Value
Before you think about selling your car, you need to know how much it is actually worth. For that, you can use sites like Kelley Blue Book.
Just enter some basic information about your vehicle and it will give you the market value.
Remember, the price provided by Kelley Blue Book and other valuation sites is not set in stone. The condition of your car, as well as the willingness of the buyer and your negotiating skills, will ultimately determine how near you get to this price.
Still, it's good to access this info before you go any further.
Choose Where to Sell Your Car
You can use a number of different sites to list and sell your car, including Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, both of which are free. Autotrader and eBay will also list your car, although you may be charged fees on these sites.
Generally, the notion that you "get what you pay for" applies as much to car marketplaces as it does to actual cars.
Facebook and Craigslist are much more likely to attract scammers and time-wasters. It's not uncommon for people on Facebook to lowball you with ridiculous offers and then get annoyed when you don't accept.
With eBay and Autotrader, you're generally dealing with more serious and transparent car buyers, and that can make the process of selling your car much easier.
Gather the Necessary Documents
Before selling your car privately, you will need to make sure you have all of the necessary paperwork, including maintenance records and the car title.
If you have not yet cleared the loan, you won't have the car title, in which case you can't sell the car. You'll need to contact your lender and clear the amount.
Finally, as the process can differ greatly from state to state, you should check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see if you need any specific documents when selling a car privately in your state.
List and Screen
Once the documents have been prepared and you're ready to list, it's time to publish the ad and start screening the buyers.
You will likely get a lot of time-wasters and scammers. Just ignore the ones who offer you stupidly low sums of money, as well as those who offer more than the asking price.
The former are just chancers; the latter are probably scammers.
If anyone overpays and asks you to send the money back via an alternative payment method, it's a scam. It's also a scam if they ask you to ship the car abroad or to use an Escrow service or shipping company "owned by a friend".
Listen to those instincts of yours—if something doesn't sound right, it's time to back away.
Be Careful When Meeting and Test Driving
Always meet in a public place during the daytime, and make sure you take someone with you. The buyer should be willing to come to you, not the other way around, and while it's okay to offer them a test drive, you should always be in the car with them.
There are many more legitimate car buyers than there are scammers. However, selling a car privately seems to attract more scammers than selling anything else. They all come out of the woodwork as soon as you post those ads, so it is important to be vigilant.
Negotiate and Sell
If you want a quick sale and you're not getting any interest, just reduce your price or accept lower offers. If the interest is there, remain firm, set your price, and don't drop too low.
It's okay to come down and meet them in the middle, but don't start negotiating until they start being reasonable.
If you're selling your car for $3,000 and they open with an offer of $1,500, just refuse. Don't even give them the time of day. If they offer $2,500, you can move down to $2,900 or $2,850, assuming you're happy with that amount, but don't start dropping too soon.
It's important to stay as close to the asking price as you can, and one of the best ways to do this is to "spend" the money before you actually sell your car.
Tell yourself that you're going to use the funds to pay off credit cards, buy a new car, pay for a vacation, etc., When someone lowballs you, you'll be less inclined to accept on the basis that you won't have enough to do those things. It means you won't flinch if they move to walk away, and it could help to make you a strong negotiator.
Patience is also key. Desperation is usually what makes people settle when selling a car. They can't be bothered to deal with more prospective buyers, conduct another test drive, and deal with more messages on trading sites and social media. They accept the low offer just to get it over with.
But if you have the patience to keep going back to the drawing board, then none of that matters, and the prospective buyers are the only ones wasting their time by trying to buy your car for less than the asking price.
Conclusion: Selling a Car
Generally, you will get more money when you sell your car privately. But of course, what you gain in cash, you lose in time, as you have to screen callers, offer test drives, deal with scammers and tire kickers, and struggle to find anyone serious.
It's why many sellers often give up and sell cheaply to a dealership, junkyard, family member, or friend.
If you want the best of both worlds when selling a car, one that will give you a lot of money and ensure that you don't have to deal with all the hassle, consider a car buying service like Peddle or CarMax.