How You Can Sell Your Vehicle Privately & Safely

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When the time comes to finally move on from your current vehicle, you have to weigh your options. Do you trade it in to a dealership? Do you just junk it and call it a day?

This choice alone can be a huge headache, but if you choose to sell your car to a private buyer, here are some tips and tricks to alleviate that pain:

Why Sell A Car Privately In The First Place?

When you sell your car yourself you open up the possibility of netting the highest price for your vehicle. Negotiating with hobbyists and collectors, you may find yourself getting way more bang for your bucket of bolts than you thought you ever could.

That said, it is a time consuming process. You’ll find yourself preparing not only your vehicle, but also all of its documentation ahead of the sale.

Furthermore, you will have to actually interact with (potential) buyers and that by itself can be a massive turn-off to selling privately.

Prep Your Car!

When selling to a private buyer, you’re going to want to put your car’s best foot forward. After all, presentation matters.

One would assume this means to wash and clean your car’s interior and exterior, but before you do that, you’ve got a more critical task: gathering documents.

Documents detailing your vehicle’s service and repair history can positively impact your selling price. Collect as many of the service documents as you can and have them on hand for potential buyers to examine.

Should your car have been repaired following a collision, it’s important to have a paper-trail of where and when it was repaired for the vehicle’s next owner.

After you’ve gathered the documents, it’s time to make sure your finances surrounding the car are in order.

If you own the vehicle outright, congratulations and skip ahead to the next paragraph! If you’re financing your vehicle still, contact the lienholder and iron out how much would still be owed after the sale. You don’t want to be upside down on a loan unless you absolutely have to!

Also, get ahold of your vehicle’s title if you can. That may involve paying off the rest of the loan before selling the actual car or discussing title transfer with the titleholder.

Preparation isn’t limited to documentation. You should handle any repairs that your vehicle may need prior to. Again, presentation is everything and you want your buyers to feel like they’re getting something worthwhile.

STOP: Selling Time!

As the time to sell your vehicle approaches, it’s in your best interest to do two things:

Get a vehicle inspection done.

Get an exterior and interior cleaning done.

The vehicle inspection will ensure that the car you’re about to sell has no hidden faults that can legally come back to haunt you. It’s not only the ethical thing to do, but it’s also the safest course of action to take when selling a car.

man cleaning car window with soap and rag

Getting your wheels washed and waxed will also up the ante on your presentation. A clean car will fetch a higher price than a dirty one, of course.

Take multiple pictures from different angles while your car is well lit for maximum effect.

Depending on your vehicle’s value and age, you may want to repair any minor cosmetic damages as well. Dings in the door, scratches, and cracks in the windshield can be repaired without costing an-arm-and-a-leg. Many companies can actually come to you and fix those issues remotely.

The idea is to minimize the amount of things a potential buyer may find an “issue” with. Everything they have a problem with will likely be noted and used to negotiate the selling price.

Investing a few hundred dollars into sprucing your car up will definitely yield a return for you.

Next, Set The Price!

Deciding on what price to sell your car is a blend of the concrete and the abstract. Your asking price has to be high enough to give space for negotiation, but low enough to not scare away potential buyers.

Pricing your vehicle below those of similar cars in the market is a quick way to possibly get a sale faster.

Online valuation tools will give you an idea for what to set your selling price at. Kelley Blue Book is a popular platform to get the valuation for your vehicle and others like it in the market.

Once your price is set, it’s time to advertise your car. Gone are the days of taking out newspaper ads and/or parking your car somewhere with a “For Sale” sign in hopes that someone sees it.

You can now take your vehicular talents to platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and reach an incredible amount of people looking for cars just like yours.

Include pertinent information like the year, make, model, and mileage.

Remember those pictures we told you to take earlier? Add those to your advertisement (but take care that they don’t show your address in any of them). Let buyers know how you’re accepting payment and that they are getting the car “as is.”

Leave your contact information (preferably an email made specifically for selling this car) and wait for the buyers to come to you.

Finalizing Things

Once you’ve vetted a serious buyer, be prepared to meet them somewhere secure and conduct a test drive of your vehicle. Take a friend along and keep the drive limited in both time and the area they drive in.

Afterwards, they’ll likely request an inspection by a mechanic. Once that’s done, know that it’s time to negotiate.

Having done your research and prepared your vehicle, you should be able to hang in the ring with an experienced car buyer as they try to negotiate you down. They can’t go any lower than their initial offer and you can’t go any higher than your first asking price.

With that in mind, just remember to talk less; the more you talk, the weaker your position looks.

Always be prepared to walk away if you don’t like the offer!

Once things are settled on the pricing front, it’s time to complete the paperwork. This typically covers the title transfer and the Bill of Sale, however a mileage disclosure and liability release are required in some states.

Once all of that is complete, get paid and get on your way!

woman smiling on tablet

Car-Worth & Selling Your Car

Now, everything we detailed above can come across as a massive hassle. It does require both an investment of time and money, both of which you may not be willing or able to invest.

That’s no problem—Car-Worth is here for that exact reason.

We compress the time and money needed to sell your car into a fraction of what it would have been. Our dedicated team of Associate Buyers will kick back a quote for your vehicle within 90 seconds, free of charge and with zero obligation.

Should you accept, we connect you with one of our local service providers. They can set up a tow within 24 to 48 hours, free of charge.

The driver will haul away your vehicle and you’ll have your quoted amount in hand.

A fraction of the time. Zero monetary investment. Excellent results.

Contact Car-Worth today and get your car sold!

Can You Sell A Car Privately Sold “As Seen?”

Yes, you can. However, “sold as seen” or “trade sale” do not legally bind the parties involved, regardless of whether or not they are included on the sales invoice. It is an attempt to remove liability should anything be wrong with the vehicle, which is why a pre-purchase inspection is always important.

What Do You Write On A Private Car Sale Receipt?

A buyer’s/seller’s contract is the proof that you’ve sold your vehicle to a specific person on a particular date for a disclosed amount. The receipt should include the words “sold as seen, tried and approved without guarantee.”

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