Selling Your Car: What Not to Do

You've got a car you don't need and money you do. But what should you avoid when selling your ride?

selling a car

Buying and selling your ride can be a complicated process. You may have even seen our pieces on tech companies trying to simplify and streamline such an antiquated and stressful institution. We know some quick, simple solutions for making the buying part a little more pain-free including buying cars from your phone in a safe and guaranteed quality structure like Beepi, or even getting test drives delivered to your door from an innovative startup like Shift. But, what about the other half of the process: selling? We’ve got some tips and tricks for selling the right way.


There are countless choices these days to leave your wheels behind to make room for some new ones. But, how can you get the best bang for your buck?


We’re sure you know about Craigslist: the popular every-man’s website offering anything from dates to Dodges in the context of a peer-to-peer platform. But selling your car on the site can be complicated—our editor once listed her 1998 Camry for sale only to have her phone explode with interested buyers in a matter of minutes. (Turns out, she probably could’ve asked for more money.) Selling on Craigslist also comes with a couple caveats. First of all, check with your state’s laws regarding car sales to make sure your offer is in the clear. That may or may not include a clear title, a damage disclosure statement, a bill of sale, and more.

When selling your car on Craigslist, be prepared to negotiate.

In addition to having clear legality, pricing on Craigslist is key. This site is based around competitive pricing, which means your sale should be centered around how much your want for your car. Money blog, Debt Roundup advises,

“You should look around the site to see if anyone is selling your year and model.  How do those compare to yours?  What are their features and how about the condition?”

Sites like Kelley Blue Book and even eBay Motors can help you get a good grasp on how much you should be asking for to keep your post competitive. In addition, keep in mind that all your potential buyers can see is your description and photos on the site, so represent your ride well online. Think like a writer with your subject line, and don’t skimp on a good detailing job and wash just before sale. Then, with Craigslist, folks will inevitably try and haggle with you, so be prepared for negotiations. And be certain to pick a safe, public space to facilitate the hand-off—if in doubt, bring a friend along with you for support.


We mentioned that ease of buying offered by new peer-to-peer apps like Beepi and Shift. These companies also offer a simplified selling process. Once you submit your car, they take care of the entire transaction, from inspection to photos to pricing. Now, of course, the easy process is a tradeoff for a fraction of the money you would have gotten in its entirety with a site like Craigslist, for example. But in exchange, you get guaranteed pricing with no negotiations, and a post on a site that will be trusted by potential buyers. In the end, it’s up to you to decide if the price cut is worth the post.


The old-school method is, of course, trading or selling your car at a dealership. These institutions are notorious for pricing schemes that will pull more money from your wallet than necessary. However, the nice thing about dealerships is that they’re often willing to buy your old auto regardless of condition or mileage. Some are even equipped with a policy that lets you trade in any car you’re up for selling.

Again, because of the haggling factor here, its good to know beforehand what your car is worth, in addition to each and every deficiency present in your vehicle, so you can be realistic when it comes to pricing. How do you pick the dealership? suggests that you base this decision on the quality and original manufacturer of your ride: “You’ll want to find the dealership that’s the most interested in selling it because they’re likely to give you the most money for it.”

Auto selling can be tricky business—but hopefully with some simple knowledge of your car’s worth, you’ll have money for your old car and a new set of wheels in no time. The simplest way to find the true value of your soon-to-be-dearly-departed is to go straight to Kelly Blue Book’s “What’s My Car Worth” calculator.

Have you had recent luck selling your car with any of these options, or maybe one we didn’t think of? Any particularly bad experiences selling?