Tips for Selling Your Car

What’s the best way to sell a car yourself? Do you have tips of your own, in addition to Tom and Ray’s tips?

Share your thoughts, experiences and suggestions right here – and thanks!

If your state requires an inspection to transfer title, get the inspection done and all the items fixed before selling the car. One of the biggest problems as a seller is overcoming the buyer’s unease about buying a car “as-is”. While the car is still sold without warranty, at least the buyer knows that the state will register and tag it immediately.

Good point. I don’t buy used, but whene helping others look for used cars (which I do often), I always recommend avoiding anything that does not have an up to date inspection sticker and registration. A lack of either may be for a reason.

In addition to cleaning the interior and exterior, take a half hour, some spray cleaner, and some paper towels and go over the engine compartment. You may not care, but some potential buyer might be impressed.

Clean it up and make sure your oil change due light is not on. Don’t have worn out tires. Have a maintenance history that PROVES you had oil changes done.

Good advice; I recently sold a full size Chevy just by posting a photograph on a supermarket bulletin board. The car had dark red metallic paint which show really well. I cleaned the Michelin tires, shampoed the interior, changed the oil and put all maintenance and repair bills neatly in a binder. I had two roof racks which did not fit my new car, so I threw these in for nothing. Total preparation cost was about $40 plus some elbow grease.

The guy who bought it really appreciated this, and bought the car without even driving it. I got $100 less than I asked. Where I live we don’t need a fitness/emission certificate.

When you sell a car, it has to run smoothly, start easily and their should be no vibration in the wheels on a test drive.

People who don’t do any of the above always have trouble selling their cars.

Love your tips - they were very useful in helping me get my 2002 Saab 9-5Wagon ready to sell. I went to CarMax - but they totally low-balled the price. Then I decided to try Craig’s List. I was all set to submit my ad BUT when it came down to it, as a single woman, I did not want strangers coming to my house or having to get in a car for a test-drive with someone I didn’t know.

I sat on my car for a couple of weeks before I stumbled across
Easy and safe - plus they got me $2,700 more than CarMax.
Love those guys! I’m telling all my DC Metro friends about them!

My car is a manual (5-speed). It is also 10 years old. I’m concerned some nyuk-nyuk may want to test drive the car who doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift. Any advice on how to handle this situation?


Ride along on the test drive, and if it doesn’t go smoothly from the start, end the test drive immediately.

When I helped my mother sell her car, we did a couple things that helped:

-We printed the Carfax report. I know we regulars in this forum know a Carfax reports can be completely useless, but it does make many buyers feel better.

-We printed a complete report from the Kelley Blue Book website on her car, which showed it was worth what we were asking.

-We stuck a sign in the window so people would see the proverbial “little old lady” driving it around. If you aren’t a little old lady, stick a sign in the window and loan the car to your mother or aunt to create the “little old lady” facade.

In spite of spending money to advertise the car online and in the newspaper, my mother ended up selling it to someone who saw the sign in the window. The buyer didn’t even haggle, she just paid the asking price.

I don’t recommend buying new tires for a car you’re about to sell. Nobody is going to pay more for a car just because it has new tires, and you won’t recuperate what you spend on a new set of tires. If your tires are completely worn out, shame on you for driving on bald tires. That’s dangerous. If you have to replace the tires in order to make it safe for a test drive, consider used tires, but only if you can get a matching set. Having four different tires on your car is a bad sign.

Lets see, the last car I sold instead of traded was an 86 Riviera with 350,000 on it. I spent probably 8 hours cleaning it up and waxing it. Plus it had a full tank of gas, a $70 battery and a $10 antenna. I was selling it to the cousing of a girl at work that needed a car badly to get to work and I had too many so the price was $100. Taking it up there, I discovered the headlight switch would need to be replaced, so I reduced the price to $50. Then she screwed me over by not transfering the title which cost me another $10 at DMV. I don’t sell cars anymore if I can help it and trade instead. Not to stereotype but my experience with the folks looking for low dollar cars has not been good.


I once sold a car for $100. It was a 1985 Buick Skyhawk (rebadged Chevy Cavalier for those who don’t know). It got totaled circa 1993 when an elderly man pulled out in front of me. The insurance company totaled it for $850 and I bought it back from them for $50 since it was still drivable. I sold it roughly two years later to an acquaintance for $100. Like your cousin of a coworker, the guy I sold it to never registered the car, and eventually abandoned it.

A more recent sale was our 1994 Nissan Sentra. It started rusting at the bottom and the time had come. It had extra wheel disks and winter tires since the 13 inch size would not fit any car sold these days. The paint was reasonably good and the power train very sound.

The guy who bought it did not even test drive it; he wanted an econobox for his son in high school. We took the plates off and cancelled the insurance so he had to come and pick it up with new plates.

We got exactly what we asked for. As we also posted this vehicle with photos on Kijiji, there were at least 10 phone calls for the car.

I’ve never traded in a car; they either were worn out and went to the scrap yard, or were given to family members or we sold them privately. The latter has never given trouble but you must take the plates off, and cancel the insurance and insist on cash or a certified check.