The Best Way on How To Sell a Car on Craigslist

The Best Way on How To Sell a Car on Craigslist

Selling a used car is often a time-consuming and frustrating proposition… but it doesn’t have to be! Thanks to online listings sites like Craigslist, selling a used car can be quick and simple, especially if you know how to list your vehicle properly.

But what if you don’t know where to start? Today, let’s break down the best way to sell a car on Craigslist step-by-step.

Clean and Polish the Car

Firstly, be sure to clean and polish your car from top to bottom. No one wants to purchase a used car that looks like it has recently been fished out of a river or hasn’t been cleaned once since its manufacturing. By cleaning and polishing your car, you’ll help it fetch a better price on any marketplace, not just Craigslist.

Be sure to wash the outside of the car, vacuum and clean the inside and dashboard, and consider adding a layer of polish or wax to the exterior to make it really shine.

Make a Craigslist Ad/Listing With Tons of Pictures

Next, take a ton of photographs of your car. When people decide to buy something on Craigslist, they primarily rely on visual information. The more pictures you take of the interior and exterior of your car, the more confident someone will be making an offer since they’ll feel as though they know what to expect from their purchase.

Go overboard with as many pictures as possible. Then, once you have enough photographs, make your Craigslist listing or ad. Place the best pictures at the forefront of the listing, of course. But include any other photos in the gallery so that potential buyers can feel as though they are sitting in the vehicle, even behind a computer screen. They’ll still want to go on a test drive, of course!

Include a Detailed Description

Your Craigslist listing is not done once you put it up with photos. You should also include a detailed description of your vehicle, including vital information like:

  • The current miles on it
  • The type of vehicle, such as a sedan, SUV, minivan, etc.
  • Whether the vehicle has any quirks or strange aspects related to its operation or safety
  • When you purchased the vehicle
  • The vehicle’s general condition
  • The make and model of the vehicle
  • And more

All of this information will help people filter out whether your car is right for them. If there are any worrying attributes about the vehicle, state them upfront right now. The last thing you want to do is waste your time and a prospective buyer’s time if they show up and are immediately turned off because you lied about a minor issue with the car/truck.

List the Vehicle for Its Fair Market Value

It’s also very important to list the vehicle for a fair market value. If you price the car too expensive, no one will want to buy it. If you price the car too low, people will think there’s something wrong with it or you won’t make enough money as you deserve.

What if you don’t know the fair market value of your car? Use a fair market value calculator. These can easily be found online at places like Kelley Blue Book. They’ll take into account the vehicle’s make and model, how long it has been used, its current miles, and its general condition.

Of course, you can also adjust this price based on whether the car has any damage, special features, and so on.

Have a “Bottom Limit” in Mind Early

At the same time, ask yourself honestly what the lowest amount of money you would accept for your used vehicle is. By having a bottom limit in mind, you’ll know what price you should try to get for your sale and you’ll be in a better spot for any future negotiations.

For example, if your vehicle’s fair listing price is $15,000, but you know that you would accept $12,000, list the vehicle at $15,000. If someone tries to drive the price down, make it clear during negotiations that you won’t go lower than $12,000, and only if the person decides to sweeten the deal, such as by paying for the title transfer or covering other fees.

No matter what, don’t go below this limit. Only scammers will try to cheat a seller by constantly bargaining for lower asking prices.

Bring a Friend and Choose a Good Meeting Place

While thousands of deals go down smoothly every day using Craigslist as a marketplace, some can be dangerous. You don’t want your vehicle to be stolen by someone who surprises you. With that in mind, you should always bring a friend to your Craigslist car sale, plus choose a good meeting place. The best meeting places include:

  • Places in public with a lot of visibility
  • Places where you can meet with the buyer during the day
  • Places where you and the buyer can easily get back on the road if needed

Many people who sell cars on Craigslist opt to complete their sales in parking lots around or across the street from police departments. This prevents anyone from trying to do anything criminal since a victimized person can quickly call for assistance. Never drive a car to someone else’s house to make a sale!

By doing the deal in a public place, your buyer will be able to check for things like the transmission quality, look underneath the hood, examine the trunk and upholstery, and more. While you should still take a lot of photos, don’t be insulted if someone — especially a car dealer! — tries to do their homework before a purchase.

Get the Paperwork Together Beforehand

Any car sale, even for a used vehicle to another private buyer, will require some amount of paperwork. You’ll need:

  • bill of sale, the rules of which vary depending on your state. Most states allow you to download and print a bill of sale or pick one up from the local DMV
  • A release of liability form
  • Maintenance records
  • Warranty documents
  • The car’s title so the new owner can take possession of it
  • Accurate license plates
  • If you don’t have the title for the used vehicle, you can usually apply for a new one at the local DMV

Put all of this paperwork into a folder and bring it with you for the sale. That way, you don’t have to put off the actual sale until a later date and can have everything ready to go after the prospective buyer gives the vehicle a look over.

It may also be a good idea to make sure the buyer has a valid driver’s license before giving them the keys. You never know!

Consider Payment Options

Lastly, keep all of the potential payment options in mind before settling on how you’ll accept the funds for your used car. You have a few different options:

  • Cash is ideal because it’s quick, easy, and doesn’t require extra paperwork
  • However, you can also use a check. If the buyer wants to pay with a check, make sure that it’s a cashier’s check or that they are willing to finalize the sale at a bank branch. This will ensure that the check is legitimate and not a scam. Personal checks are favored for scam artists, so take them to the car buyer’s bank to be sure
  • A wire transfer, but only if you trust the buyer.
  • It’s generally not a good idea to sell your car for cryptocurrency, as this is far too easy to fake and it’s a red flag if the buyer insists on this currency

By choosing the right payment option, you’ll avoid getting scammed and make a decent profit.

Keep These Best Practices in Mind

In the end, selling a car on Craigslist doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. Prep ahead of time, take lots of pictures, and you’ll soon find the perfect buyer for your used vehicle (and hopefully make a great profit on the side!).

But once you’ve sold your car, you’ll need another set of wheels. If you don’t know what car to buy yet, consider renting with Advantage Rent-a-Car. Our diverse fleet of rental vehicles is sure to have something perfect for your needs and budget range. Contact us today for more information!


Police Departments Open Up ‘Safe Lots’ For Craigslist Transactions | KSJD
How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Car | Investopedia
Titling A Vehicle | Department of Revenue

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