If you are thinking about selling your vehicle in the near future, it’s not too early to begin your research and preparation process now. A few basic steps can ensure that you have a reasonably successful experience in this important business transaction. A little extra attention to details can make the difference between failed attempts ending in frustration or a smooth sale with the best possible profit. The following advice is based on the suggestions of private car owners who have learned from their own research as well as their marketing strategies:


1. Know Your Car’s VIN Number and Functional Features

Locate your vehicle title or bank loan papers.

Obtain a copy of your state’s automobile title transfer registration document.

Vehicle Manuals.

Write down the following information in one place so you can access it easily. This will help you answer buyers’ questions clearly and accurately.

Car Make, Model, Year, Color description, Gas mileage

Functional Features such as Power Steering, All Wheel Drive, Antilock Braking Systems, etc.

Special Equipment such as Moon Roof, CD Players, Navigators, etc.

Existing Warranty information

Service Records for maintenance and repairs

VIN Number and obtain a CarFax document (You can order this online) which contains your vehicle’s history

2. Research the Market

This is a relatively easy step, yet it is critical in helping you make your decisions about how to price your car and whether you should trade it in or sell it yourself. A good place to start is the internet. Check out such web sites as vehix.com and kelleybluebook.com and you will get a good idea which price range your vehicle will most likely fall into. For further comparison, you can search for similar vehicles currently for sale and check out their asking prices.

In general you will get a better price by selling it yourself. But some people prefer to avoid the work of dealing with strangers. If you are interested in trading the car in for a new one, you can start by calling a few dealers on the phone just to get a basic ballpark number of what they may be willing to pay you if you sell it to them. Or you can drive by a used car dealer shop, and ask them in person. Even among dealers, there can be a large difference between what one party offers you and what another party offers you. But make sure your car has been prepared for showing before you present it to any potential buyer.

3. Prepare Your Vehicle for Show and Tell

When selling the vehicle yourself to private parties, the most important thing is to make necessary repairs to ensure that your car is functioning well. A fresh oil change is recommended.

If you can find a quality service shop, have your vehicle cleaned and detailed inside out. This step will make a dramatic difference in your car’s overall appearance as well as how fresh it smells. Avoid getting moisture into the engine area. You can choose to “clean” under the hood without steam treatment so the age and condition of the engine can be seen as is by the buyer.

4. Take Pictures

Now take your car to an open area and park it in a good place. Use your digital camera to take a few photographs of your car from several viewpoints, including the front and rear views, the sides, the interior. Avoid background items that may distract the potential buyer’s attention from your car. These photographs will become useful for your marketing purposes.

5. Marketing Your Vehicle Online

You can add these car pictures on flyers and post them in local markets and community centers. You can also upload the selected photos onto car sale web sites along with relevant vehicle information and your asking price. Many web sites (Craigslist, Vehix.com, etc.) offer free posting for a limited time and charge a reasonable fee for longer periods. Vehix.com also offers free advice on how to sell your car. Once you have placed your ad online, wait patiently and interested parties will contact you by phone or by email.

6. Test Drive

Most people who contact you will be genuine buyers. But to be on the safe side, some precautions need to be taken. For example, avoid giving out your home phone number if possible. Before you allow people to test drive your car, ask them to give you their driver’s license. Ask a friend to ride along with you during the test drive if you can, or let someone else know your whereabouts.

7. Completing the Sale

When your buyer offers to pay you for your car, you can carry out this transaction at a bank of your choice. Make sure that the funds are secure before transferring the title of the vehicle to the buyer. Have all papers signed and notarized. Sometimes organizations will contact you, offering to sell your car for you. Try to avoid these calls. You can find advice on such safeguards on related web sites, too, including craigslist.com.


Armed with the above information, you are now off to a good start. Like most car sellers, you can expect a sincere buyer to purchase your vehicle at a good price!