How to Sell a Car in a Few Quick Steps

This is a guide to help you sell your car. From taking good photos to negotiating a price, here is everything you need to know about how to sell a car.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
To sell your car, you will need a tidy vehicle, a smart price, and an attractive ad. With the right preparation, you should be able to make the sale quickly and at the price you want.
The car insurance comparison and
trusted broker
has put together this quick seven-step guide to help you sell your vehicle. Follow these tips to take the stress out of selling your car!
Once you close the deal on your old car, remember to check out Jerry before transferring your insurance to your new vehicle. You could be overpaying for
car insurance
and Jerry will help you find out. To ensure you always have the lowest rate, Jerry will send you new quotes every time your policy comes up for renewal, so you’re always getting the coverage you want at the best price.
Here’s how to sell a car in seven easy steps.
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Start with the paperwork

First, locate the
of your vehicle, as you will need this document to legally
transfer ownership
of your car to the buyer once you’ve closed the deal.
If you still owe money on your car loan, call the lender to discuss how to make the sale. They may send you some forms that you’ll need to share with the new owner.
It’s also a smart idea to check with the DMV about other required forms.
For example, you may need a bill of sale if you’re conducting a private sale. In many states, this form can be downloaded and printed out at home. The DMV can also tell you whether the license plate follows the car or not.
Finally, order a vehicle history report to have on hand for vigilant buyers. Having the report on hand shows that you don’t have anything to hide, and it also saves you time in the negotiation process.
is a great option. You may have to pay a small fee.

Set your price

Set the asking price for your car by researching the current value of your vehicle with a tool like
Kelley Blue Book
The trick is to make sure you are looking at local listings. Use the make and model to see what prices other people are setting for similar vehicles in your area.
You can try to price high, but if someone can find more affordable options, they’re unlikely to give your car a second look. Although, you might want to consider setting your price a few hundred higher than your ideal number to give yourself room to negotiate.
Don’t use whole-number pricing. For example, if the majority of listings are around $9,000, don’t set your price higher than $10,000. Employ a classic marketing ploy: set your price at $9,950.
Not only does this trick make people feel like they’re getting a good value, but it also ensures that people can find your listing within the search engine’s limits.
Key Takeaway Do plenty of research on the car's value so you can negotiate confidently.

Clean up your car

Before you take photos of your vehicle, you will need to give it a good
. scrub it down and clean it out. A little bit of elbow grease can help you command a higher price. This means washing the exterior, buffing up the headlights, and scrubbing the hubcaps.
Don’t forget the interior! Remove all your personal items, which can be a huge turn-off for potential buyers. It makes them feel like they’re looking at someone else’s car, rather than a blank slate or their future vehicle.
Vacuum the seats, wipe down the dash, and hose down the floor mats.
If you’re in a rush, just pay attention to the things that a potential driver might notice. Hop into the driver’s seat and detail everything they can see from that perspective. Dust off the vents, shake out the mats, and clean the windshield carefully.
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Create an attractive ad

An attractive ad with high-quality photos is the best way to sell your car quickly. Make sure your photos capture your car from all angles, from the sides, front, and back of the vehicle. Get a nice shot of the tire tread and pop the hood to show the state of the engine.
Show the interior of the car in the photos, too. Snap a clear photo of the odometer to verify the mileage.
Finally, pick a location that will enhance the appearance of the vehicle, such as a park or a beautiful sunset. Driveway photos just look unimpressive, not to mention the risk of inadvertently revealing your home address.
You’ll need to post the photos in several places to get the most offers. Try Craigslist,
, and eBay Motors. Specialty cars have special listing sites where you can attract collectors.
In addition to the photos, your ad will need a basic description of the vehicle as well as info like its year, make, model, price, and mileage. Don’t be too wordy but do add important information that isn’t already in the form, such as "just passed emissions test," or "clean title," or even which add-ons come included.
Key Takeaway You only get one chance to make a first impression, so it’s worth the effort to take nice pictures and write a great ad.

Screen potential buyers

To screen potential buyers, you’re going to want to stay anonymous and vet someone’s messages before calling or emailing them back.
You run the show—don’t pick up the phone for just anyone! Try creating a separate email address or free Google Voice account if you don’t want potential buyers to have your contact information.
Ignore calls from people who sound like they might be looking at a lot of listings. They are probably flippers. Call back the ones who express genuine interest and are ready to book a test drive with you and the car.
Save price negotiations for your in-person meeting.
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Schedule a time to meet for a test drive

Meet potential buyers in a public place with a sizable parking lot, like a mall or a local coffee shop.
Don’t do a meet-up at your residence or workplace.
Make sure to bring a friend or family member with you if it makes you more comfortable, or if you need a strong negotiator.
When they’re ready to go for a test drive, go with them and ride along in the passenger seat. It’s tempting to sing the praises of your vehicle, but try to resist. Stick to giving them directions and answering their questions.
Do not try to sell to them while they’re driving! It’s much wiser to let them get a feel for the car first.
If a potential buyer wants to get a mechanic to inspect the car before making an offer, they should pay for it. If they happen to find a problem, you can always negotiate a lower price or fix it before making the deal.
Key Takeaway Allow the buyer to take the lead during the test drive—but know your minimum price and stick to it.

Seal the deal by signing the contract

Once you’ve agreed on the price and set the terms of payment (i.e., cash or cashier’s check), you’re ready to sign the title over.
When it’s time to talk about money, let the buyer make the first offer. You’ve already set the asking price, so see if they try to negotiate with you. If they don't, you can sell the vehicle at the price you originally listed.
Many buyers will simply pay the price in the listing. If you set the price higher than your ideal, then you can comfortably offer them a price reduction to tempt them into a sale.
Repeat any figures aloud clearly to make sure there’s no miscommunication. If you still owe money through a lender, you might need to process the contract at the bank with both parties present.
When everything is said and done, sign the title and give the buyer the bill of sale. Some states have another required form called a release of liability. Once all the documentation is complete and you’ve got the cash in hand, it’s time to hand over the keys.
Congrats! You've sold your car.

Final tips

Remember to cancel your auto insurance policy! You still need
car insurance
as a driver, but you’ll need to remove the vehicle from your policy.
If you are looking for your next ride, seize the opportunity to compare insurance prices and see if you could pay less with a different provider.
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What is the best way to sell a car?

If you want to manage the process yourself, list your car on a site like Craigslist. You can also trade it in at a dealership, either for cash or a different vehicle. The best way to sell the car is to do your research carefully. Set the price too low and you’ll be inundated with offers. Take terrible photos and you won’t get any. Follow the steps above to get the best results.

What do you need to give the buyer when selling a car?

Each state has different guidelines, so be sure to check with your local DMV before managing a private sale yourself. You will usually need to transfer the title and give them a bill of sale. You can include other accessories and the manual if you have them.

Can I sell my car to someone out of state?

Yes, you can sell your car to
someone out of state
. Follow the link to learn how.
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