How to Sell a Car

Learning How to Sell a Car

Everyone you know has advice on how to sell a car. From your great-aunt Bertha who knows a sweet old lady at church that needs a good deal to the guy in the cubicle next to you looking for a first car for his sixteen year old — there’s no one in the world that won’t give you some kind of “lead” on a car sale. This method of selling your car should be avoided — most of the time, these leads just don’t pan out. Another good reason to avoid the “friend sale” is that if something goes wrong with the sale you could damage a friendship.

No, when it is time to sell a car, you need to do the leg work yourself. Knowing how to sell a car is simply a matter of knowing what venues are good for private car sales, what’s worked for other people, and how you can use technology and tools already at your disposal to turn your unwanted used car into cash.

Selling Cars Fast Using Classified Ads

Though newspapers are bleeding cash as their readership declines, one section that will always be popular is the classifieds. People buy and sell things every day using good old fashioned newsprint. Though you’ll have to pay a fee to sell your car through a newspaper, that fee is small and some publications exist that will run your ad for free for a certain period of time.

How to Sell a CarFirst, figure out what paper you want to advertise your car in. The local rag is usually your best bet, unless there’s a competitive or larger paper in a bigger city nearby — this is especially true if you live in a suburb or rural area. Once you’ve picked out a paper, call their classified department and find out how much the ad’s going to cost you. They’ll pretty much handle the rest for you. The editors will take down certain details, inform you how long your ad’s going to run, and what to do if the item sells before the ad runs out. A properly crafted classified ad can get you dozens of calls in a matter of days, so be prepared to consider multiple offers.

The biggest downside to selling a car through a newspaper is the fee they charge to run your ad and the fact that newspapers are a bit old-fashioned. But if you’re looking for a classic “how to sell your car” answer, running a classified ad is your best bet.

How to Sell a Car Online at Craigslist

The modern alternative to the classified ad is Craigslist — the buy-anything catch-all website that costs you nothing to run an ad. If you live in a large urban area, selling a car on Craigslist is the best way to go — especially if you need to sell your car fast and making the best deal is not your first priority.

Good ads on Craigslist for selling cars are ads that contain multiple pictures of the vehicle (clear pictures, not grainy mess from your camera phone), details about the car, a clear asking price, and contact information. You can put together a good Craigslist ad in just a few minutes, especially if you’ve already taken photos and prepared them on your computer.

I have personally sold two of my old cars on Craigslist and my experience was nothing but positive. I live in a big city, so finding buyers took no time at all. I literally had two dozen offers before the end of the first business day, and was able to set up a sort of “bidding war” by meeting three potential buyers in a public parking lot. From writing the ad to handing over the keys took all of about 27 hours, and I ended up getting $500 more than the “Blue Book” value of the car because of the bidding war I manufactured. Sneaky? Yes, but it worked.

Yes, you’ll need to be a bit computer-savvy to sell your car on Craigslist, but if you can write an email and perform a search on Google, you can learn to use Craigslist.

The big downsides with Craigslist are security and scope. If you live in a small town, there aren’t going to be a ton of people buying and selling locally. As for security — treat every offer from Craigslist the same way you would an offer by telephone. Make sure you know who you’re going to see and meet up with your customer in a well-lit public space. The rest is up to you.

How to Sell a Car for Scrap

If you’re used car is a real junker or you don’t think you can sell it to a private buyer, there’s always a chance you can make some cash selling the car to a junkyard for the value of the metal. Yeah, this is pretty much a last ditch move because you’re simply not going to make a ton of money. Junkyards pay by the pound, so obviously the larger your car the more you make at the scrap yard. I recently sold an old Jeep and got about $200 — enough to pay an electric bill and buy myself a steak.

If you’ve decided to sell your car for scrap, here’s what you need to know. Unless you want to incur a fee, you have to do some prep work on your car. You have to take the tires off, remove the gas tank (they’ll buy the metal in the tank but it can’t be attached to the car), and drain out all fluids. Once you’ve got the oil, transmission fluid, radiator fluid, and rear axle fluid drained out, you’re ready to turn your old car into cash.

Selling your car is a big deal — you’ve got an old clunker you need to get rid of, and you’ve probably got some bills or other financial obligations that a used car sale could take care of right away. You want to make sure you’re selling your car through a reputable source, getting top value for your specific car in your specific situation, and that you’re staying within the boundaries of the law. Luckily, selling a car is not the headache that you may think it is. Use the Internet to find the right buyer for your car and save yourself time and money.

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