A man is holding keys while leaning on a black car after seeing a dealership ad to 'Sell Us Your Car.'

A Beginner’s Guide to Selling Your Car


Buying a car can feel like a big deal, but selling one can too. If you’ve ever felt enticed by dealership ads with callouts like: “sell us your car” or are simply looking to hop out of your current used vehicle and into a brand new one, then you’ve certainly come to the right place. That said, selling a car can be incredibly rewarding, and give you the small financial boost you need to purchase something brand new. There are many different ways you can go about selling your car and many different places that will buy your vehicle from you. We’ll cover these different avenues of selling your car and potentially help you make the best option; that way, when you see a sign asking you to “sell your car,” you’ll know exactly what to do.

Prepping Your Car for Sale

Selling a car can be incredibly rewarding, especially when done right, which is precisely the reason you shouldn’t just jump into it. By taking your time and slowly moving through the process, you have a better chance of getting a deal that will satisfy your expectations. And the very first thing you should do before you go ahead and make that online post on Craigslist, or rush down to the dealer to make a sale, is clean your vehicle. While you can clean the car yourself, professional detailers can make your vehicle look as good as new or even better. Not only that, getting your car detailed can better ensure that you get a successful final sale, as with car selling presentation is everything.

Once you’ve gotten your car detailed and ready to go, the next thing you’ll want to do is accurately price your vehicle. Far too often, car sellers attempt to sell their used vehicle and end up placing it at a price that is far beyond the actual value. On the other hand, some drivers make the mistake of pricing their vehicle too low and end up getting far less than the real value of the car. Fortunately, there are many ways to value your vehicle online through Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. Although, any reputable dealer can provide you with a more accurate evaluation of your car, as they’ll be able to inspect it in-person.

A man is looking at the fender of a black car.

Selling Your Car to a Local Dealer

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of advertising and selling a car yourself, you can always go the easy route of selling your vehicle to your local dealer. Dealerships are always looking for used cars to resell in their lots, and have the resources to give you a solid and fair deal. Selling your car to a dealer can remove a lot of the stress from the process, and can save you from the risk of getting less than the actual value of your car. There are very few cons in selling your vehicle to a local dealership, as long as that dealership has a good reputation for buying used cars. Sometimes it can even be more beneficial. Some dealerships offer special incentives for potentially used car sellers and can give you financial benefits towards a new car from their collection. So, before you sell your used car to a dealership, be sure to do your research and find a dealer near you that isn’t just trustworthy, but that can potentially help you get behind the wheel of the car of your dreams.

Smart Advertising

If you don’t plan to sell your vehicle straight to a dealership, and would rather find a private buyer, you’ll need to spend some time advertising. Fortunately, in the digital age, there are many platforms online that allow you to showcase your vehicle to thousands of users all in a matter of minutes. Digital showrooms like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace will enable you to upload photos and sometimes videos of your vehicle, set pricing, and interact with potential buyers all from the comfort and ease of your smartphone. The only issue with online car sales is that you never know who you’re going to interact with. Some buyers could be serious about your offer, while others can be completely fake, spamming you with misleading messages. Fortunately, if you struggle with online advertising, you can try your hand at physical ads.

Nothing beats a good ‘for sale’ sign, and hitching one to your vehicle can be a relatively simple process. On the ‘for sale’ sign, all you need to include is your phone number, the year of the car, and an asking price, it might also help to include the mileage of the vehicle as well. Simply posting a sign to your vehicle can be a great way of alerting the regular passerby that your car is for sale, and that you’re looking for ‘x’ amount of money for it.

If posting a sign to your car doesn’t attract any potential buyers, you may want to consider taking out good old fashioned classified ads. Typically found in the automotive section of local newspapers or magazines, the classifieds can be a great place to attract a potential buyer. A simple ad, showcasing the year, price, and mileage of the vehicle, as well as your contact information, can be all you need to find the perfect deal. However, it is important to note that the classifieds section offers relatively limited spacing, so be sure to take advantage of the space you get wisely.

A close up is shown of a woman typing on a laptop.

The Negotiation Process

Regardless of whether you sell your used car to a dealership or a private buyer, you’re going to have to engage in the negotiation process. While negotiating with a dealer will be a little more straightforward than negotiating with a private buyer, both can come with their hurdles. It is worthwhile to go into a negotiation knowing what kind of price you’re looking for, particularly with a private buyer. If you’re not careful, it can be pretty easy to find yourself haggled down to a price far below the actual value of the car, so being firm is incredibly important. A reputable dealership is less likely to give you that kind of runaround, as they’ll likely provide an accurate valuation of the vehicle. While you may be limited to how much you can earn from selling to a dealership, you can ensure a far easier process and a deal that is fair for both parties.

Remain Calm and Make the Sale

Selling a car can feel like an overwhelming process, but just like car buying, it doesn’t have to be. Whether you plan to sell your used car to a dealership or your next-door neighbor, you can get the best deal possible if you take your time and take all the necessary steps. From posting an ad on Craigslist to finding a reputable dealership in your area, the slow and steady way of selling a car can be the most ideal. If there is one tip to take with you as you venture forth into the auto selling process, it’d be to remain calm through the process and do all the research you can to ensure you get the best deal possible.