Selling your car privately can often be a better choice than scrapping it or peddling it to a used car dealership but preparing your car for sale can be a challenge. If you want to get the best possible price for your car, then you need to know how you can best present it to potential buyers.

There are a lot of things you can do to increase the appeal of your car and make it easier to sell, but here are 10 of the best secrets for selling your car privately.

Remove and Replace

One of the most important aspects of selling your car is making sure it’s presentable. The first step in doing that is to make the interior look as nice as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to get rid of any leaves, rocks, coins, grocery bags, bottles or other clutter and trash from the interior and trunk. Also, be sure to clear out your glovebox of everything but the owner’s manual, and get any clutter in the seat pockets or other nooks and crannies.

Make sure to throw out any old, dirty, and worn out floor mats, replacing them with brand new ones from the dealer. This includes rubber mats. Replacing all your kick plates is also recommended. This includes the kick plates on the driver side, the passenger side, and the trunk. Both floor mats and kick plates are cheap, easy to replace, and look a lot better when they’re brand new.

Clean the Car

While this may seem like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised by the number of listings with dirty, grimy, and disgusting cars that probably haven’t been cleaned since they were manufactured. If you’re looking to buy a used car, then a well-cleaned car will be a lot more appealing than a car that’s filled with half its weight in dirt and grime.

Even just a vacuuming can have a profound effect on the sale of your car, and a proper, professional cleaning and detailing can improve the value of your vehicle drastically. A thorough scrubbing, a window cleaning, and even waxing the exterior can make your car a lot more appealing to buyers and can help you sell your car quicker and at a higher value.

Repair the Car

If repairs will cost you more than what your car is worth, then they’re obviously not worth the trouble. But, minor issues such as spent tires, changing the oil or air filter, repairing leaks, or other simple repairs can be a cheap way to make your car more attractive to potential buyers, and can even improve the value of your car.

Minor repairs such as new wipers, fresh batteries, or windscreen replacement can show potential buyers that your car is well maintained and that you actually care about making sure it runs well before selling it. The better shape your car is in, the more appealing it will be to buyers.

Make Sure It Has All Safety Checks

In order to register a car, a buyer will need to have legitimate safety inspections and a clean-emissions test done. These tests usually cost less than $100. However, it’s still a bit of a hassle to do these checks, and if you’ve already done them, then potential buyers will find your car that much more appealing.

These checks will prove that the car you’re selling is road-worthy, and help you gain the trust of potential buyers. As an added bonus, the inspection will turn up any issues with the vehicle, which can be fixed before they become a problem for you or the buyer.

If you’d like more information on the necessary safety checks, take a look at the DMV’s page on Used Car Inspections.

Listing the Car for Sale

Your listing is the first thing people will see when considering your car, so it’s incredibly important to have good listings. There’s no central listing or MLS for car sales, so you’ll have to use sites like Craigslist, eBay, Kijiji, a forum specific to your model, or another online listing service. You could also list your car in the local paper if you have one operating in your area.

Before listing your vehicle, you should look for the same model or similar models on these websites. If you want to sell your car as quickly as possible, you should price it just below the average. In your listing, you should describe your car thoroughly, detailing its mileage, equipment, and condition. Honesty is key and making sure to note any accidents or issues can save you a lot of hassle when trying to sell. You should include as many well-lit high-quality photos of your car as possible, as well as details on any repairs or new parts. Finally, you want to make sure you leave the correct contact information, so potential buyers can actually reach you.

Communicate with Potential Buyers

Communication is one of the most important parts of selling your car. Be sure to respond to any inquiries about your listing as soon as possible, and as professionally as possible. This is especially important if the inquiries themselves aren’t professional. People can be blunt or rude and being rude or unprofessional right back at them is probably the quickest way to lose a sale.

Be sure to watch out for people looking to resell your car for a fee, or anyone that wants to give you cash immediately and pick up the car without actually looking at it. If an inquiry seems too good to be true or seems suspicious, then you’ll want to ask them to call you directly before meeting in person. Always be courteous and polite, but also maintain control at all times. Meetings and discussions should always be on your own terms, and you should always keep track of who’s contacted you.

Present the Car to Potential Buyers

Once you have someone interested in your car, then it’s likely you’ll need to show it to them. Make sure you set up a time and place that’s mutually agreeable and ask them to text you if they’re going to be late, will be unable to make it, or decide to change their mind. Buyers can be unreliable and reminding them to tell you if they aren’t going to show could save hours of your time.

When a buyer does show, you should answer any questions, show them how the controls work, and show them any that don’t, as well as any records that you have on the car. They may want to take the car for a spin, so you should keep your plates and insurance on the car until it’s sold. Only allow them to drive if you’re present inside the vehicle and keep the drives short; 20 minutes at most. If you’re uncomfortable being alone in the car with them, then you should take a friend along.

Negotiate on a Price

Once a buyer decides that they want your car, they’ll try to negotiate. They’re likely to make an offer well below what you asked. Don’t be upset if they don’t make the purchase, there are plenty of other buyers out there. When negotiating, have a specific price in mind that you won’t go under in addition to your higher asking price.

As long as someone offers you a price you’re not happy with, counter it with an offer closer to your asking price. Don’t accept until you get a price you’re happy with and be sure to remind the buyer of anything that increases the value of their purchase.

Get All Paperwork in Order

After you shake hands on the deal, you’ll want to immediately get a bill of sale to keep track of the transaction. The DMV has an online tool that can help you create a bill of sale.

You should arrange for full payment or take a deposit in excess of $500. Only sign over the ownership of your vehicle after the funds are in your account. Make sure your license plates and any personal belongings are removed before you hand over the keys.

Finalize the Deal

Now that you’ve sold the car and the money is in the bank, all that’s left to do is cancel your insurance and delete your listings. Make sure the buyer got everything you offered, including spare parts, and bid them adieu, then congratulate yourself, because you’ve successfully sold your car.

If you’d like more detailed information on the legal process of selling your car, then the DMV has a section on their website with several helpful guidelines.

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This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.