Cities and Towns in the United States > vehicle > A Step By Step Guide To Selling Your Car


Buying a new car is exciting and brings a lot of joy to people. Selling a vehicle, on the other hand, is less glamorous. But for most people, selling their vehicle is necessary before moving on to the next car. This article will guide you through the vehicle-selling process to ensure you are fully informed.

How To Sell Your Car

Why Would A Person Wish To Sell Their Car?

Car owners have different motivations for wanting to sell their vehicles. These include:

  • • Discarding the car after an accident or mechanical problems;
  • • Upgrading to a newer vehicle;
  • • Wanting to downsize or upsize because of a change in circumstances;
  • • Wishing to ease the financial burden because the car requires more repairs as it ages.

Ways To Sell Your Car

There are numerous ways to sell a car; some require little effort and the quickest way, while others need work. The main ways to sell include:

  • Trading the vehicle for a new car at a car dealership;
  • “Instant Cash Offer” through a company that purchases used cars;
  • • Selling the vehicle through a private sale.

Let's examine these three ways in more detail below.

Trade-In At A Car Dealership

Trading the old car for a new vehicle at a car dealership is the easiest way to sell a car. But you will not receive the highest possible price. The car dealer will complete all the paperwork (such as title transfer), carry out repairs (if required), and advertise to sell the vehicle.

Through a car dealership, it is possible to save money on sales tax. The sales tax paid will be the difference between the price obtained for the old vehicle and the cost of the new car. There is no need to pay sales tax on the price of a complete new car.

Instant Cash Offer

People can take their cars to a car dealer who buys second-hand cars. The company will check the vehicle and offer a price. Since they may need to refurbish and advertise, the offer will be less than the price obtained through a private sale (see below).

These days, thanks to the Internet, making arrangements through the World Wide Web is also feasible. "Instant Cash Offer" schemes enable the owner of the vehicle to enter the details of the car on the company website. It will include particulars such as make, model, mileage, and damages seen on the vehicle. The website will instantly offer a price.

If satisfied, the owner can take the car to the dealer, who will check and complete the purchase. If the conditions of the vehicle differ from the details submitted initially, another price will be offered.

Private Sale

Making all the arrangements to sell by yourself yields the highest price. But there is more work involved. A person needs to present the car in the best condition possible (including possibly making minor repairs and valeting), gather documentation, and meet with potential buyers. It is a more time-consuming process involving advertising, meeting numerous buyers, negotiating, and agreeing on a price.

The Step By Step Process Involved In Selling Your Car

This section will outline the steps involved in selling your motor vehicle. Most of it is aimed at private sales, which involves the greatest effort and work. But some of it also applies to car dealerships and "Instant cash offers."

1. Gathering The Documentation Ready To Sell The Car

Gather as many documents as possible, including vehicle ownership details, service and repair history. The more available documents, the easier it is to show the vehicle's history. If you are the first owner of the vehicle, showing the initial purchasing documents will yield a higher price. One-owner cars are more valuable than those with multiple owners.

2. Getting The Car Ready For Sale

Cleaning the vehicle to ensure the interior and exterior look fresh is a good idea, no matter who you sell it to. A clean-looking car will create a better first impression.

Some choose to carry out car repairs to ensure the vehicle works properly. It is a delicate balancing act as repairs will cost money and potentially dent into profits from the sale.

The seller must produce a smog compliance or vehicle inspection certificate in certain states. In other states, they require a warranty to confirm the vehicle will pass these tests.

3. Setting A Price

It is possible to find out the potential price of the car by checking online adverts for similar types of vehicles. There are also numerous online valuation tools such as Kelly Blue Brook.

It is important to ask for the right price. Asking too much will lead to a lack of interest, while too little will lead to a quick sale, with the buyer not obtaining the optimum value. A sweet spot is somewhere in the middle based on the sale price of other similar types of cars.

4. Advertising The Car

This is only a necessity for private sales. These days much of the advertising takes place online. Many portals allow people to sell their cars. Some of the popular websites include:

  • Autotrader
  • CarGurus
  • Carvana
  • Facebook Marketplace, and
  • eBay Motors.

Most of these platforms attract a small advertising charge, but platforms such as Facebook Marketplace are free. Though online marketplaces have become dominant, it is also possible to advertise in local newspapers as they are still popular with some people. It is best to find publications with a high circulation.

5. Showing The Car To Potential Buyers

Selling through a car dealership eliminates the hassle of meeting with potential buyers. Private sales will entail showing the car to interested people, and it may involve dealing with many people before someone buys the car.

When selling privately, potentially interested parties will make contact via the online portal or telephone number. When arranging to sell the vehicle, meeting at a public place rather than at home is best. It is important to consider safety concerns as the process involves meeting a stranger.

6. Taking A Test Drive

A buyer will want to inspect the car while it is being driven, which will involve going for a test drive. Some buyers will ask to drive the vehicle themselves; others are happy to be a passenger as the seller drives.

Do take the necessary safety precautions: make sure the person is not under the influence of drink or drugs, and check the buyer's driving license to ensure they are qualified to drive.

7. Inspection, Negotiating A Price, And Completing Paperwork

Buyers will want a car mechanic to inspect the motor vehicle if it is an expensive model. With older and cheaper cars, many forgo this option. Inspection will involve arranging another visit after the initial appointment.

If the buyer is happy, they will want to conclude the purchase. Some will seek a better price, so be open to negotiation. With a private sale, determine through your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) what registration, title documents, and other details are required to conclude the deal.

8. Receiving Payment For The Vehicle

When dealing with a car dealership, receiving money is extremely easy. The company will transfer the funds to the bank account of the seller. There is no need to worry about scams or frauds. With private sales, extra care is required.

Cash was the standard means of exchange in the past, but bank transfer is the most dominant now. After concluding the agreement, ensure the money is in your account before handing the keys and waving goodbye to the buyer.