Learn How to Sell Your Car and Get the Most for It

Decide on an Asking Price

You’ll need a valuation estimate to set a fair price for your automobile. This information can be obtained by using resources provided by websites like as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, or right here on caranddriver.com. To obtain an accurate appraisal, you must give information about the vehicle, such as its make and model, mileage, optional equipment, and condition. Depending on the site, you will be offered an approximate trade-in value (based on zip code), a private-party sale value, or both numbers—usually in a range.


What you’ll notice right away is the pricing difference between a private-party sale and a dealer trade-in. We ran a sample six-year-old compact vehicle through one of these estimators and found that selling privately saved us about $2000. When determining the asking price for your vehicle, use these estimates as a guide. Estimate a price that is 15 to 20% greater than what you are willing to pay based on the vehicle valuation.

Preparation for Presale

It’s now time to get your vehicle spruced up and ready for potential purchasers. Begin by cleaning and vacuuming the car’s inside and removing any rubbish or debris. Give the exterior a thorough wash—it could be a good idea to get the car cleaned as well.

Consider obtaining a vehicle history report as well. This report provides consumers with background information on the car. It can, for example, tell if the vehicle has been in any significant accidents and ensure that the odometer reading is correct. Assuming the information displayed is favorable, having one of these reports on hand can make your vehicle more appealing to potential buyers and alleviate any concerns they may have.


The next step is to notify prospective purchasers that your vehicle is for sale. If you’re selling to a dealership, you’ll need to call several dealers to compare costs and get the best deal. You’ll be asked for basic information about your vehicle, such as its mileage and overall condition. Expect to visit their used-car lots so that their salespeople can inspect your vehicle.


You’ll need to place an ad if you’re selling your car to a private party. You may advertise on Craigslist, Autotrader, eBay Motors, Cars.com, and Bring a Trailer, among other places. You can also look at brand-specific forums for your vehicle, if they exist.

When describing your car in an ad, be truthful. Include as much information as you would want to see as a potential buyer.

Most importantly, back up your ad with a plethora of photographs. Take many photographs of the car’s interior and outside. Avoid taking photos around noon or so because the overhead light of the sun can be harsh; the most attractive lighting will be found an hour or so after sunrise or just before sunset. Try to capture the images at a remote spot where there aren’t any distracting objects in the background.

Consider setting up a dedicated email account and phone line through Google when publishing an ad. This will allow you to readily field offers while also protecting your privacy. Also, do not underestimate the influence of social media. Spread the word to your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.