How to Sell a Car by Owner

by Barb Nefer

When you're getting a new car, you often can get more money for your old car by selling it yourself than by trading it in. Or perhaps you simply have a car that you're not using anymore, so it makes sense to sell it and get some extra cash rather than let it sit around. No matter the circumstances, it's not too difficult to sell a car if you take the time to do it correctly. This means setting a fair price, advertising efficiently and being ready to negotiate.

Set a fair price for your car. Make your car more attractive by pricing fairly and reasonably. Check its resale value and see what similar vehicles are selling for in your area (see Resources). Use these figures to set your own price, and leave a little room for negotiation.

Detail your car or have it done professionally. A clean, shiny car gives the impression that it has been well cared for, which will make it more attractive to buyers.

Gather all your maintenance and repair receipts and put them in a handy place, such as the glove compartment, so you can show them to potential buyers. Showing repair receipts will back up any claims, such as "This car has brand new brakes" or "The transmission was just repaired last fall."

Write ad text that emphasizes your car's best points, and take some flattering photographs. Imagine everything you'd want to hear as a buyer, and work that into the ad.

Place the ad on car-sales websites (see Resources). You also might advertise in your local newspaper or car-sales publication.

Allow potential buyers to take test drives.

Be open to negotiation.


  • close Often telemarketers troll car ads and call sellers, claiming to have a buyer. The catch is that the seller must pay a fee in order to get the information. Never pay anyone a fee to find a buyer for your car.
  • close Telemarketers can get your phone number through car ads, so you may want to buy a prepaid cell phone that is only used for ad responses.

About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."

Photo Credits

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