So you’re going to sell your car yourself. Here are some tips:
1. Get organized. Clean your car, get all your personal stuff out of it, and make it shine as much as possible. Organize all your service records in chronological order. If you have any spare parts or accessories for your car, put them in the vehicle. Have your car ready to go so that when you show it you can sell right it away, then the buyer can drive it home and you never have to deal with it again.
2. Craigslist is KING. Just about everyone who’s looking for a used car is going to visit craigslist, and it’s free to list your car. When you list your car make sure you put up a detailed description and as many pictures as possible. Here’s a big tip: Save yourself time and improve your credibility by taking pictures of any flaws on your car and describing them accurately. This will make you stand out from all the people that claim their car is “perfect”. If craigslist isn’t working, try AutoTrader.
3. Change your craigslist ad often. The way that craigslist works, you move to the top every time you update your listing. By changing your listing once a day (or even once an hour) you’ll get the most out of your ad.
4. The first phone call or email you get is usually the best one. In our experience with craigslist and similar sites, and even newspaper classifieds, the first person to contact you is usually the person that ends up buying, so treat that first caller like royalty. The first caller is usually motivated, so don’t feel like you have to discount for that person (at least not very much).
5. Be safe. Don’t put your address in your ad – all you’re doing is advertising where someone can go to steal your car. You should also list your work phone instead of using your personal number. Finally, and most importantly, meet potential buyers in a public place. Shopping mall parking lots are ideal – they have security, they’re lots of people, and they’re easy to find.
6. Test drives. If your buyer wants to test drive, and you don’t feel comfortable going along with him or her, ask if you can hold the keys to their car before they drives away. If you get a bad vibe before or at any point during the test drive process, tell the buyers to take a hike: there’s absolutely no reason to take any risks.
7. Don’t accept cashier’s checks or bank drafts. Unless you’re inside a bank talking to a bank employee, don’t ever accept a cashier’s check or bank draft as payment. These instruments are extremely easy to counterfeit, so you should only take them from people you know and trust. Insist on cash. If your buyer has to give you a bank draft, meet them at their bank so you can verify it.
8. Wrap up all your loose ends. Before you let somebody drive off in your car, make sure you take your plates off. Have the buyer sign a bill of sale since this proves the vehicle was sold. Don’t forget to ask for ID. If you get any pushback on any of this, don’t sell the car to that person.
If you’re not sure how much money you should try to sell your car for, read our used car valuation guide.