5 Tips to Prepare a Car for Sale

If you are planning to sell your car, you can do it yourself or with the help of a used vehicle dealer. If you opt for the latter, the dealer will charge a fee but you will save yourself a lot of trouble. If you prefer to handle the sale independently, you will get a larger sum of money — but you will need to invest more time and effort in the process. In this article, you will find 5 valuable recommendations on how to prepare the vehicle for sale.

Collect the Documents

The one that gives you the legal right to sell the auto is called “the title”. Prepare it in advance but do not sign it.

To check the list of the other necessary documents, visit the site of your state’s department of motor vehicles. From there, you can download and print templates.

If you took a loan to purchase the auto and still have not paid it off, consult your lender.

Order a vehicle history report. The potential buyers can do it themselves — but they will be impressed if you do so. Your proactivity and responsibility might convince them to choose your offer over dozens of others. Also, it will save your time and nerves because the report contains answers to the obvious questions — such as whether the car has ever been involved in an accident or how many owners did it have in total.

Define the Price

Glance through the selling ads for cars with identical characteristics. The price should reflect the age and condition of your vehicle: if it is 15 years old, it should not be the most expensive in its category. However, the potential buyers will try to negotiate — so your asking price should be a couple of hundreds of dollars higher than the one you are ready to agree on.

Also, you should remember the laws of human psychology. If the fair value of your vehicle is, let’s say, $4800, you can indicate $4990 as your asking price — but not $5100. People looking for particular engine limits will set the filters on the ads site so that those will display only the offers priced less than $5000. Like this, they will fail to see your ad.

Make Sure Your Vehicle Looks Stunning

Wash it outside and vacuum it inside. To cut down expenses, it might be wiser to do it yourself than to take the auto to the car wash. It might take you several weeks to find a buyer, so you will need to repeat the cleaning process numerously.

Create an Appealing Ad

The most important part of it is pictures. The more you take, the better. Glance through the ads of brand new cars, made by professionals photographers, and try to imitate their approach. The best time to take a photo of your vehicle is right after sunset. Choose a picturesque location, such as your own garden, or a well-groomed parking space in the open, or close to a good-looking brick wall. Avoid arranging a photo session inside the garage — the artificial light will hardly look stunning. Plus, there would be unwanted objects in the background.

Your ad should contain the following editing of car photos:

  • The exterior from various angles
  • The driver’s seat
  • The back seat
  • The trunk
  • The engine
  • The tires (to assess tread depth)
  • The odometer (the buyer should clearly see the mileage)

Most ads offer templates where you should indicate the age of your vehicle, the make and other parameters. In the body of your ad, you should not repeat this information. Instead, you can mention some other perks — for instance, that you have never smoked inside the salon or have never used the auto for off-road trips. Avoid cliches and saying obvious things, such as “Very good condition!” or “A fair price!”.

Screen the Buyers Carefully

This is the most sensitive part of the selling process. If you are selling the vehicle privately, without the help of a second-hand vehicle dealer, avoid sharing your real contacts in the ad. Create a new email account and a free Google Voice phone number that you will use only for this sale. Ask the buyers to send you texts or leave voice messages but not call. Get in touch only with those who seem committed and trustworthy enough.

The least wanted category of buyers are those who call multiple listings. Most likely, they are in search of autos that they can purchase at a minimal cost and then resell at a profit. Typically, these start asking for a bargain without seeing the vehicle.

You should be interested primarily in those who ask you questions about the technical characteristics and condition of the auto: mileage, number of accidents, tune-ups and so on. Serious customers normally want to see the car as soon as possible and take a test drive.

It would be convenient to start a test drive from the parking lot of a shopping mall. Invite a friend to join you and ask them to wait while you accompany your potential buyer. During the test drive, do not convince the person to buy the auto. Instead, calmly answer their questions and avoid being overenthusiastic.

If the buyer wants a professional mechanic to inspect your means of transport, let them do so — but ask them to pay for it from their own pocket. After the inspection, the buyer might ask you to offer them a discount. You should agree only in case the mechanic has detected serious problems that require immediate attention.


Hopefully, this article came in handy and now you know how to sell your auto independently. Alternatively, you might try to contact a dealer, such as Rolls Auto Sales. With a dealer, you can be sure that the sale is legit and you get a fair price. But if you own a car of a popular model and it is in good condition, you will be likely to succeed on your own.


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