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How to Sell a Used Car

By Kathleen Burgess


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Most people want to own a brand-new car. They want a more reliable vehicle since used cars may have hidden damages or parts that were fixed several times due to malfunctions. Besides, new cars’ designs, systems, and programming follow the current trends and needs. A lot of used cars tend to fall short in these areas.

However, used cars can be saleable, too. They are more affordable and can be used as an initial ride for younger drivers. All you have to do is learn how to sell a used car. With the right information, you can sell your car in no time.


There are four major preparations before selling your car. These tips ensure that someone will buy your vehicle, and future transactions will be smooth and fast.

  • Cleanliness

    You can either go to a car wash service to let the pros clean your vehicle or simply handle it yourself. The tricky part here is capturing how clean your car is through pictures that you will post online. Yes, the absence of trash on the car seats and carpets may be enough. Sure, the car already looks clean if its surface and wheels are totally clean from grime and mud. But, will all of these guarantee the sale of your car?

    We recommend boosting the appearance of your car by applying wax all over it. You can even add polish to make sure that no flaw is exposed. A clean car may attract buyers but with added shine, interested people will definitely come knocking. In car sale photos, glossiness is equated with cleanliness and the irresistible surfaces of brand-new vehicles.

  • Documents

    To avoid any problem with the government, you should sell your car legally. So, make sure to compile all necessary documents in a secure envelope. Two of the most important papers you have to hold on to as long as the vehicle is still in your hands are your title to the car and a bill or proof of sale.

  • Photos

    This step is easy if your car looks so shiny. Used cars that look like brand-new ones are buyer magnets. As long as a person can only judge a product through sight, your car should really stand out from a variety of car sale pictures. To ensure that you will have the best photos, take a lot of pictures around your car in different angles.

    For more specific tips, make sure to take some pictures of your car as a whole. Nothing must be cut off. However, you also have to ensure that nothing distracting is included in the background. Do not take pictures in distinct seasons such as winter. We do not want to see an ad with snow in the background if it is already summer.

    If there are awesome features inside or outside your car, take pictures that center them in the frame. As much as possible, take photos of every nook and cranny around your car in a bright area to prove to the buyers that you are not trying to hide anything. It does not matter if there are flaws. After all, it is a used car. Fill all picture slots in the listing.

  • Research

    Since you become a salesperson once you start to sell your car, channel what the professional salespeople are doing – researching the competition. Search for your vehicle’s market value by looking at listings about similar cars. Then, visit websites that have tools for valuation.


You will never have a buyer if people have no idea about your sale. That’s the simplest way to explain the benefit of advertising. To advertise your car, you need to make a listing. Listings are composed of photos and short sentences.

  • How to Make a Listing

    In order for you to have an effective listing, prepare a description of only five sentences about your car. Include the most important details about your vehicle, as well as the main reason why you are making a sale. Be careful on how you write the description. Make sure that everything in your listing follows proper grammar. Use a professional tone.

  • How to Share a Listing

    For a wide range of potential buyers, share your ad on Facebook. FB has been a great vehicle for fast dissemination of info because of its Like and Share features. Craigslist is also good, proven by its endless stream of ads for any product.

  • More Tips

    If your price is higher than the average value in the market, explain it in the listing. Buyers want straight talk; there is no more room for fancy words such as “Best Car” and “Just Like Brand-New.” Always support your claims with facts.

    Aside from the description, you can also reserve FAQs about your car. This speeds up the process if there is an interested buyer. It also proves that you are confident about your sale.

    For more specific writing tips, some experts suggest using capital letters as a way to highlight important words. Some do not recommend it though. If capital letters ruin the professional tone of your listing, then skip using them. Say something unique about your sales such as special car features and buyer benefits. While being professional is needed in the listing, it will not harm you to write a catchy phrase somewhere in the ad.

Closing the Deal

As soon as a buyer expresses his interest by actually contacting you, negotiate a schedule that suits both of you for a test drive.

  • Test Drive

    The best place to meet for a test drive is in a public space. Make sure to accompany the buyer during the drive. Never trust strangers. After the test drive, do not be surprised that the buyer will try to negotiate with you regarding the price. Prepare a good deal in the first place to let you earn a decent amount no matter how the negotiation ends.

  • Payment

    If the negotiation is successful, decide together how the money will be paid. The most common options are straight cash or a cashier’s check. Make sure that the check can be transacted in a local bank.

New Ownership

Do not transfer ownership immediately when the buyer uses a check for payment. Remember to confirm it first with the bank. Make sure that the payment is cleared. When the payment is already okay, sign the title and create a bill of sale. The buyer must also give his signature on both documents. The last part is you giving the keys to the new owner.

In some states, DMV requires private sellers to inform them about the sale. Another essential process is to notify your old car’s insurance company to stop the coverage.


Despite the long process of selling a car starting from the preparations, it is truly rewarding to earn money from something you have used. Keep in mind to follow the legal or formal procedures. Do not fully trust buyers who are strangers to you. Secure the payment and papers first before officially giving your car to another person.

To bring out the ultimate shine of your used car for selling, use a product from the best car waxes in today’s market. If you have a dark-colored vehicle, reading our tips on how to keep a black car clean might give you an easier time in the future when you finally decide to sell it. In case you want to purchase a used car, check out the necessary fees when buying one.

About Kathleen Burgess

Kathleen started her career in journalism writing about cars during her Journalism degree at CUNY and even though she didn't like it at first, she quickly became an ace, writing news, reviews and comparisons like one of the best car writers out there. Today she writes content focusing on the latest trends in the car industry, looking at sales, policies and green alternatives. Learn more about GCB's Editorial Process.

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