5 Tips When Selling Your Car

Sponsored post. Sponsored by Cars.com. All opinions are mine.

Lots of changes have been happening at our house since Donovan left at the beginning of this month. If you haven’t been around in awhile, no he didn’t leave leave me 😉 You can catch yourself up with our living situations here. One of these changes with Donovan routinely being gone for a majority of the week every week is our second car never gets driven!

Before he left, this car was my daily driver while he took our newer, more fuel efficient car on his commute to work. Now that he’s gone, I drive our newish 2012 Chevrolet Cruze daily and our oldish 2003 Buick Century has only been drive once in the last 4 weeks he’s been gone. We’ve realized we don’t really need it anymore, especially because once he graduates, he’ll have his patrol car that he gets to bring home as if he owns it.

Last Thursday we officially decided to sell it and spent this entire last weekend preparing the car to be sold. Of course, like any other seller, we want to sell it as easily and quickly as we can! I’ve compiled all of our tried and true strategies that have made this process much easier and want to share them for others also looking to sell their cars.

1. Know the True Value

“A car is only worth how much someone is willing to pay for it.” You’ve heard it too, right? As car owners, we tend to find value in the sentimental aspects of our vehicles. Whether it be, “this was my first car”, “I brought my baby home from the hospital in this van”, or in my case “I drove this car in college and it endured the frigid, cold Idaho winters with me”, we find value in what the car has done for us and what we’ve been through with the car. But no one else, including your potential buyer, will see or frankly care about that value.

There are several different ways to find out what your car is really worth to the plain eye. You could take it to a local professional to get their opinion or check online resources that will price your car for you. One of the resources we checked with when pricing our car was Cars.com. They have a research section that allows you to look up your car and read the specs, reviews, and the price value of your vehicle.

2. Spruce It Up

When you buy a brand new car at a dealership, they say your car loses a significant amount of value the moment you drive it off the lot, because now’s officially used. It’s no secret that you’re selling a used car, but that doesn’t mean it has to be so obvious that the car isn’t new. The less-used and more-new your car looks, the more value a potential buyer will see in it.

So put a little elbow grease into it. Give the outside a good wash. Clean the rims and use some tire shine spray. Check the tire pressure. Take the seats out and vacuum. Wipe down the interior, the doors, and the dashboard. Clean the upholstery if needed. Top off the motor oil and coolant, because those who know a thing or two about cars will surely check them to see how well the car has been maintained. And one of the most important things in my opinion, add an air freshener. No one want a stale or dirty smelling car.

By putting in a couple hours and doing these simple things, you can take your used car from being in good condition to really good condition or maybe even like new condition.

3. Fix It Up

It’s a good idea to take your car to a mechanic before listing it. Chances are your potential buyer will want to take it to a mechanic before purchasing to find out if there are any issues. You’ll be ahead of the game if you already know what these issues are and fix them if they aren’t too major. Things such as oil leaks, strange noises, burned out bulbs, and an air conditioner that needs a recharge, can all make a buyer weary but can easily be easily fixed yourself.

The latch on our Century’s glovebox partially broke a couple years ago and then about 9 months ago it completely to where it wouldn’t shut. At first it worried me, and would probably worry any customer, that the glovebox light constantly being on would burn out the car’s battery. Luckily for us, it never did, but we knew it would be on a “cons” list of our potential buyers. We searched for a new latch part everywhere online and at every auto store here in town, but couldn’t find one anywhere.Then Donovan had the genius idea of using the velcro-like Command Picture Hanging Strips to aesthetically keep it closed but still able to open when needed. So get creative!

4. Gather Important Records

It’s important for you to know the history of your car and most buyers will want to know too. Usually their main concern will be if it has a clean title. It is up to you whether you want to have the title signed and ready to trade for cash in the case of a quick buy, or if you would rather play it safe and do the notarizing and transfer all together at the bank.

It’s also helpful if you have kept all of the receipts from the mechanic and tire shop so you can prove how often your vehicle was maintained, the vehicle’s history, how old the tires are, how many miles are on your current tires, and when your car is due for an oil change.

5. Post and Share Online with Pictures!

Long gone are the days that people will look into the newspaper’s Classifieds to look for cars for sale (Do they even do that anymore?). When people are in the market for a car, they usually won’t drive around town looking for cars parked at the side of the road either. They will go straight to a local Facebook group or a mobile app such as OfferUp. Some still use Craigslist.org but in my experience, it’s too full of a bunch of scammers.

Besides posting on Facebook groups, we also posted our car on Cars.com. They offer a free package to advertise your vehicle listing for 30 days. I was able to create a listing in less than 5 minutes. It was ridiculously easy! It gave me multiple options to describe my vehicle down to a T, a place to write a description, and five photo uploads. I really appreciated the option to compose my own description to specify details that I think buyers would be interested in. Some extra details I included were the child lock function and the feature of car seat hooks, because I know that the child lock and latch system is important to mommas in the market for a new car.

The best way to back up your word is to show pictures! You can talk about how clean and beautiful your car is, but nobody will believe it until they see it. Posting some good quality pictures of several angles really helps grab the attention of someone looking at your listing.

Good luck!

It’s no easy task to sell something as big as a car, but it can be done. Hopefully some of these tips will help you out!

— I’d love to hear from you. What are some ways you have successfully sold a car? —

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37 Comments

  1. My parents just transferred the title of one of our older family cars to me. I keeping it for now to because it’s in great shape but I’ll make note of all these tips when I do go to sell in a few years!

  2. Andrea

    this is all great info, and I have a friend who is trying to sell his car, gonna pass this along to see if this helps his luck. Thank you for the info!

    • Hannah Rooks

      Oh wow! Mind me asking about where you live? I couldn’t imagine not needing a car, but I’ve always lived in suburban-areas with hardly any public transportation. My town doesn’t have taxis or even Uber!

  3. Usually, I trade my old car in for a newer one. I did sell one car once and it was a nightmare. The dealers I went to weren’t much help or very generous. We should have used your tips because I think we would have gotten a much better deal.

    • Hannah Rooks

      I’m so sorry to hear it was a rough experience for you. Selling through a dealer can get kind of complicated. Better luck next time! 🙂

  4. Angela @marathonsandmotivation.com

    These are all such great tips! I will definitely keep them in mind when it’s time for me to sell my car!

    • Hannah Rooks

      That is so good to hear! We checked what ours could be traded in for and it was about half of what we could sell it for privately. So that is an awesome opportunity for your family! That’s a great way to go if you get a decent offer. 🙂

  5. Tara Holland

    I have sold a few cars in my day and these tips are right on the money. It definitely helps to spruce it up and have it running well, because people will check!

    • Hannah Rooks

      They most definitely will! I always try to avoid being blindsided when someone who knows more about cars than I do (aka pretty much everyone) opens the hood! Haha. Thanks for reading, Tara!

  6. Oh man, I wish I had seen this post a few weeks ago. I just sold my first car and am pretty sure I didn’t get anywhere close to what I could have gotten if I had gone about it the right way. :/ Will keep these tips in mind for down the road—so helpful!!

  7. Selling your car can be an intimidating task. These are great tips. Posting good pictures and descriptions online can really boost your ability to sell quickly. There are so many social media avenues to utilize as well!

  8. These are excellent tips! My husband just recently sold his car because he has a company car for work. We really don’t need three vehicles for two adults.

  9. I always consider selling my car, but sadly public transportation isn’t where I’d like it to be and I can’t afford a new car yet. Great tips for when that time comes!

  10. The last time we went used car shopping, I couldn’t believe the number of people that didn’t take the time to spruce their car up. I guess more people need that advice than I would have thought.

  11. This is super helpful for me. We are on the verge of selling our old car and just not been getting the right kind of offers. I am going to consider posting it online too. Its an important medium to gain some references. Thanks for the tip

    • Hannah Rooks

      I think posting online will really help you! Whether it be through a selling platform (like cars.com) or through a local facebook page, I have gotten most of my responses through those!

  12. I have never sold a car before! But my mom is planning to sell our old, dinged-up minivan once my sister graduates from college in a couple of years. These are some good tips to share with her (she’s currently worried that it won’t bring in anything and she’ll have to pay to get rid of it, haha)!

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