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Craigslist is one of the best sites for selling your car in the United States. You can get a good price by targeting the buyers directly and because the transactions are conducted away from the site, there are no hefty fees or percentage shares to worry about.

If you want to get the most money for your used car, take a look at this guide as we show you how to sell a car on Craigslist.

What is Craigslist?

Craigslist is a classifieds website that has been around for over 20 years. Americans have used this free service to find jobs, sell vehicles, and post personal ads. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and has been involved in a few controversies over the years, but it definitely has its benefits.

The main benefit is that you can sell pretty much anything you want (within reason, as the aforementioned controversies have caused Craigslist to implement a number of restrictions) and the world is watching. You’re essentially targeting a massive audience for free, and that’s something that few sites can offer.

Tips for Selling a Car on Craigslist

If you have never sold a car on Craigslist before, or you’ve had a few bad experiences and want to avoid the hassle, follow these steps.

Step One: Check the Price

Before you sell a car, you need to know how much it’s actually worth. Visit sites like Kelley Blue Book to check the asking price and see how much money the vehicle is worth.

Step Two: Prepare Your Car

Get your car cleaned and polished to prepare it for sale.

You don’t need to go overboard and should refrain from spending a lot of money on upgrades and repairs. A little elbow grease should suffice.

Step Three: Prepare the Craigslist’s Ad

Once you’ve properly prepared the car, it’s time to snap some pictures. Make sure you include all of the car and catch it in a good light. You should also refrain from taking it in front of your house.

When the pictures have been snapped, you need to write the ad and include the asking price.

Provide potential buyers with all of the information they need, including the year, condition, safety features, mileage, damage, and sale price.

Car ads don’t need to be funny or quirky. It might get you a few laughs when writing a personal ad but it won’t do you any favors when selling a car.

Step Four: Reply to Genuine Buyers

You will likely receive a lot of inquiries when selling a car on Craigslist, and only some of these will be genuine.

Weed out the crazies and the scammers and focus on the ones that seem genuinely interested. Don’t chase the lost causes in the hope that they might actually be interested-they are not, and they’ll just waste your time.

Step Five: Meet, Negotiate, Sell Your Car!

When you find some prospective buyers, agree to meet them in a safe location and make sure you take a picture of their license plates when they arrive.

Let them inspect the car, answer any questions they have, and if they want any test drives, agree on the basis that you will be in the car with them.

If you agree on the price, just take the money, give them the car and the necessary paperwork, and you’re good to go!

Craigslist Car Scams

Craigslist is a great site for buying and selling motor vehicles, but it’s not without its problems. The site is not exactly riddled with scammers, as the vast majority of its users are honest, but the scammers seem to congregate around big-ticket items like cars.

To make sure you don’t fall victim to scams when you sell your car on Craigslist, look out for the following:

The Overpayment

The buyer seems very eager to purchase your car and doesn’t even want to see it in person. They agree to buy it from you and send you a credit card payment, money order, or cashier’s check for more than it is worth.

After realizing their mistake, they ask you to refund the remainder, and because it seems like an honest mistake, you agree.

After all, what do you have to lose? If the car is worth $2,000 and they sent $2,500, you only need to pay back $500 and still get to keep the initial $2,000.

The problem is that the initial check will bounce or the credit card payment will be reversed (often because a stolen card was used). In the end, you’ve gone from being $2,000 in the green to $500 in the red.

Use This Service

The seller demands that you use an Escrow service recommended by them. They might insist on it and claim that it’s a genuine service and that it’s the only one they can use. They might even offer you more than the asking price to convince you.

In the end, as you should have predicted, the service is not as safe and legitimate as you thought and your money quickly disappears!


One of the worst scams is basically an outright carjacking. The buyer will offer to purchase your vehicle and ask for you to meet them in a quiet and secluded location.

When you arrive, you’re robbed of your vehicle.

Asking the Seller to Ship Out of the Country

You can usually tell a scam by the buyer’s attitude. If they are pushy and start with the sob stories, unusual requests, or desperation, just ignore their messages and move on.

Some buyers will ask you to ship the car out of the country and may try to convince you that they are in the military or buying for a friend. They’ll ask you to work through their chosen shipping company, and this scam is often combined with the “Overpayment” one mentioned above.

The end result is that you lose the vehicle and the money that you overpaid.