How to Sell a Car Independently

You and your car have traveled many miles together, but now it's time to part ways. If you've decided to sell your car independently rather than to a dealership, you may be likely to get more money — but where do you start? Here are some guidelines that can help smooth the process of selling any car on your own.

Determine the Value Before Selling Your Car

First, you need to know how much your car is worth. Check guidebooks, local classified ads, and online marketplaces to compare your car’s year, make, and model to similar vehicles as a benchmark. 

You'll need to adjust the price for key factors, such as mileage, fuel economy improvements, and previous owner history. It may make a difference if the car is under warranty, has been regularly maintained, or has had recent work done on brakes, tires, or transmission. Features like keyless entry, CD player, navigation system, and leather seats can also boost value. However, if the vehicle needs servicing, you may have to lower your price, especially if you want to find a buyer quickly.

Increase Your Car’s Curb Appeal to Help It Sell

A little elbow grease can go a long way toward making your car more attractive. It’s important to detail both the exterior and interior of your car: wash and wax; shine the wheels and tires; fix any dings, windshield cracks, or broken lights; and buff the finish. Also change the oil, check the tire pressure, and neatly organize the vehicle records in the glove box.

Create an Eye-Catching Car Listing

To grab the attention of prospective buyers, list your vehicle in local classified sections or on popular car-selling websites. Be honest in your listing to avoid wasting buyers’ time and establish trust from the outset.

Your ad should mention the car's condition, including any flaws or special features, plus the reason for your sale. Note why you might be asking for a premium or discount price, specify your required form of payment, and include plenty of photos taken from various angles.

Protect Yourself When Selling Your Car

During the process of selling your car, remember to make your safety a priority. Meet prospective buyers in a public place, rather than having them come to your home.

Also require a money order or certified check for purchase.

Negotiate the Price of Your Car

The more clearly a buyer understands the rationale behind your pricing, the less you may need to negotiate. Still, build in a buffer, because it’s commonplace for a buyer to offer at least a few hundred dollars under your asking price. Your buyer may enjoy a psychological sense of accomplishment by closing a deal somewhere under the initial price, and in the end, would you rather meet with multiple buyers or compromise on price?

Transfer Your Car Title

A car title is the legal document that states the owner of a car. When you sell your car, the title needs to be transferred to the buyer. First, research your state’s laws on transferring a car title, including how many days you have to complete the transfer after the sale. You’ll need to fill out the title with the buyer and send it to the local Department of Motor Vehicles.

If the prospect of selling your car independently seems daunting, these tips should help you sail through the process while staying safe and hopefully making a profit.