How to Sell Your Car Like a Pro

Updated on January 24, 2019
Is your car hanging around your garage for too long? Follow this guide to know how to sell your car like a pro.
Is your car hanging around your garage for too long? Follow this guide to know how to sell your car like a pro.

How To Sell Your Car

Everyone at some point will be upgrading cars (hopefully not downgrading). Instead of having our old cars sit around and gather dust, why not just sell it? Easier said than done.

I tried selling my old van and believe me, it was a painful process. Dealers? They haggled half my asking price. Craigslist? Too many inquiries but now actual buyers. Googling how to sell your car doesn't help either. So how do you sell your car like a pro?

Last month, I sold my Toyota Tundra at my asking price. No less. Here, I compiled steps on how I sold my car at the price I wanted in just 5 days.

Step 1: Get a Vehicle History Report

I cannot reiterate more the importance of this. A vehicle history report is like a statement that says your car is pristine and buyers need not to worry about its state. Thousands of cars have been damaged in the past few years due to natural causes (e.g. Hurricane Katrina) and some of them are being sold without buyers knowing what happened. Title washing is also happening at large. Because of these, consumers are becoming more and more wary in how they buy cars. Present this prior a sale or during meetup so your buyers can be more at ease.

Useful Tip: I understand that almost all of us are looking for a CarFax alternative. Don't get me wrong. What they do is excellent but paying $30 to $40 for a data that we, as an owner, already knows is too much. I used another provider and I would say that the data provided is more comprehensive. You can search around and look for NMVTIS-certified ones. NMVTIS is a government initiative to centralize all pertinent information about used cars. Their data is a collection of compiled information from state DMVs, junk yards, insurance companies, etc.

Step 2: Compute for Your "Ideal Price" and Your "Asking Price"

Before we get into definitions, let's lay down the math. First, go to your favorite FREE car selling website. It's important to check prices on a free posting site so we can get owner prices w/o accounting any posting fees.

  • Do a search and look for others who are posting the same car as yours.
  • Take note ONLY of the highest-priced post.
  • Check the car being sold and ask yourself: (1)What does the other car have that yours don't? How much does it cost to have those? (2)What does your car have that the other doesn't? How much did it cost you?
  • Now that you have those numbers, it's time to compute. Deduct the cost of upgrades you don't have that the other car has from the original price posted. Then, add HALF the price of the upgrades that your car has. This is your "asking price". Take note of the results.
  • Then, do the computation again except for the last step. This time, add the FULL cost of the upgrades your car has that the posted one doesn't This is your "ideal price".

By adding an ideal price and an asking price, you're leaving enough wiggle room but doesn't necessarily cause you to sell at a loss. The reason we would add only half the total upgrades is because your buyers didn't ask for it. They just want the car and this is true with most. But of course, we always want to get the most out of our investment. By having our ideal price, we can then test the market if we can get the full price out of our car (ideal price).

Useful Tip: This may not work for everyone. When I did this, I was happy with the price I came up with. This can be considered a blind price estimate. Nevertheless, you can always resort to having your car valued using Kelley Blue Book or any other car price estimation services if you have some bucks to spare.

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Step 3: Get an Inspection Report

Once we know the price we want to sell at, we have to get our car ready. First, have it inspected by a certified mechanic. Get the fixes done to make sure the car runs as smooth as possible. Lastly, ask for an inspection report. We'll use this later to get the car sold fast.

Note: You shouldn't add the cost of this to your price. I believe that every car seller MUST make sure the car they are selling is in the best condition and shouldn't charge the buyer for it. If you believe that everything is good to go, then don't get fixes. For basic maintenance, let the buyer do it themselves. You don't have any idea what they want to do so leave it to them.

Produce Quality Photos of the Car You're Selling
Produce Quality Photos of the Car You're Selling

Step 4: Produce High Quality Photos of the Car You're Selling

This is the part where you will either make or break your selling campaign. Craigslist sellers often doesn't include enough pictures to be able to sell. Others do have a lot of photos but the quality is bad -- it's either blurred, taken at a wrong angle, or taken just to have some photos posted.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when taking car pictures:

  • Take at least 5 pictures of an angle you're trying to get. Choose one with the utmost sharpness and quality. Discard the rest. Take another 5 until you get something you'll be satisfied with.
  • Choose a location where there's no car in the background. The best times to take a photo is either early in the morning (about 7 to 8) or an hour before sunset.
  • Make sure your photos will feature the details of your car. Avoid bad lighting conditions!
  • Flaunt your flaws. It's best to let potential buyers know ahead of time about dents your car may have. This is also some sort of protection for you so they can't use your car flaws as a means to reduce the price.
  • Take a photo of the tires to show its condition.
  • Snap a shot of the driver's seat.
  • Get in the back of your car and recline the front seats. Snap a photo of the interior of the car.
  • If possible, include a photo of your odometer to give added credibility to your declared mileage.

Step 5: Post Your Car on Your Favorite FREE Car Selling Website

That's right. Post on the FREE ones. Why? Because most buyers go to these websites first before checking out the paid listing sites. Another thing to consider is, well, it's free. Who doesn't want free nowadays? I'm sure you want to know how to sell your car without spending, as much as possible.

What to Include in Your Listing

Let's split this into four main categories. The things that should be in your ad description are:

  1. Basics
  2. Specifications and Description
  3. Inclusions
  4. Terms


As it suggests, you should highlight the basic info about your car. Make, model, mileage, body style, and the trim and version of your model. In here, you could also include some information given on your vehicle history report (no title brands, not a salvaged car, first owner, etc.).

Specifications and Description

This is where you sell. List down car specifics and the modifications you did on it, benefits and how much it costed you. Also add, that before selling, you had it inspected and had everything checked and maintained to make sure it's gonna be sailing smooth once it's out of your hands. Mention that you have the inspection report ready with the mechanic's number so they can verify. Tell them why you're selling your car. Also include the link to the vehicle history report or just say you can show it in-person or forward it via email.


In this part, you will include transferable warranty information. Mention that you have the paperwork (if you do), types of coverage and for how long. Other types of subscription that come along with the car should also be added here.


Very important part. This is where you put your demands. In this part, mention your price again (whether you've posted your "ideal price" or your "asking price) and highlight key features your car has that will justify your pricing. Include "Price is firm but willing to listen to offers" (only applies if you've posted at your "ideal price"). This depicts that you want your car to be bought at your price but any 'reasonable' offers may be entertained. After that, tell them your payment terms, methods you accept, etc.

After that, you are ready to post your car. I suggest going to Craigslist for starters, but other websites you can think of are fine.

Useful Tip: Pretend that you are a buyer looking specifically for your car. What are your most common questions? Suggestively, you can add a fifth part on your post where you will address some of the most common questions buyers may have about your car. This way, they would know the information they're looking for before they contact you.

Step 6: Create a Text Message Template That Would Answer One Question

"What's your last price?"

You won't believe how many people would ask you this. Naturally, as buyers, we all want to haggle even just a tiny bit. Even $10 off the original price will make us feel like winners. In order to avoid redundancy and to save time as well, create a template for answering this question.

Step 7: Deal!

It's time to meet that interested buyer! How you will close it is entirely up to you and what you're comfortable with. Some likes delivering the car themselves to the home of the prospective buyer. Others want to just meet somewhere. The best method is by having a consensus with the buyer and doing what's best for both of you. That way, both parties win!

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • profile image

      bhupen bheem 

      4 years ago

      good work man.


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