How to Sell Your Used Car Privately: The Most Complete Guide You’ll Ever Read
Car shopping can be a pretty miserable experience – so miserable, in fact, that 21% of Americans say they’d rather give up sex for a month than haggle over a new car. The only thing worse than buying a new car, many people believe, is figuring out how to sell their used car themselves.
We’re here to rescue you from your car selling woes. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the process of getting your car, truck, van, SUV or other vehicle ready to sell. We’ll also cover advertising it for sale on popular sites such as Craigslist and Amazon, and engaging in the actual car selling process.
Table of Contents
- How to Sell A Used Car on AutoTrader
- How to Sell A Used Car on Craigslist
- How to Sell A Used Car on Ebay
- How to Sell A Used Car on Facebook
- How to Sell A Used Car on KBB
- How to Sell A Used Car on My Front Lawn
- How to Sell A Used Car to a Scrap Yard or Car Junker
Your Options For Selling Your Used Car
There are three ways to get rid of your used car: sell it yourself, trade it in at a dealership, or send it to a car junker.
Why should you sell your car yourself instead of trading it in at the dealership? You’ll make more money. The dealership has to earn money on your trade-in by selling it. To maximize their profits, they’re going to give you a low-ball offer on your used car.
Selling your used car is more time-consuming, especially if your car is a bit of a junker. But if you need more money for a down payment on a new car, or can’t stand the idea of getting ripped off by one of those slick-haired, fast talking dudes at a dealership, you’re much better off selling your used car yourself.
When would you consider selling your used car to a car junker? Places like Junk Car Medics are a last resort for most people. If your car doesn’t run, was totaled in an accident, or is otherwise unusable, your only choice may be selling it to a junk car dealer or metal scrapyard.
Many of these businesses are easy to work with, while others do everything they can to rip you off. They may offer you one price over the phone and another when you arrive, or try to aggressively negotiate with you when you drop off your car. If possible, get recommendations of reputable car junkers from friends or colleagues before you start making phone calls.
A car buyer is always going to pay more than a car junker, which is why we recommend trying to sell your used car yourself before you call one. If you can’t sell the car after a week, you can always call a scrap yard or car junker then.
Ready to get started? Let’s move on to the next step: Preparing to place your car up for sale.
How to get your used car ready to sell
It’s cheaper and easier to sell your old car than ever before. Gone are the days of placing an expensive ad in a newspaper. Instead, you can place your ad for free on a number of websites. Many of the forms you need to fill out when you sell your car can be downloaded and printed at home, which saves you a trip to the DMV.
Now that you’re ready to sell your used car yourself, the first thing you should do is get all the paperwork in order. You’ll definitely need the title. You should look for it before you place your ad so you can apply for a replacement if necessary.
Different states have very different requirements when it comes to the other paperwork needed to transfer a vehicle’s ownership. It’s likely that you’ll be required to fill out a Bill of Sale, and there may be other forms. DMV.org (a privately-operated site that is not affiliated with the Department of Motor Vehicles in any state) has a good list of what paperwork you need to sell a car in each state.
Your next step is to research the potential selling price for your car. The Kelly Blue Book is the most common way people figure out how much they can get for their used car. They have an excellent website that walks you through the car’s features and condition and comes up with a price based on that information. Your local library should also have a copy of the Kelly Blue Book.
Once you’ve looked at the Kelly Blue Book, it’s a good idea to look around online and see how much similar used cars are selling for in your area. Look on Craigslist or a similar site. Check out the local dealerships – keeping in mind that their prices will likely be higher. All of these resources will help you come up with a good asking price for your car.
Right before you’re ready to place your car up for sale, get it cleaned up and looking great. Remove all trash and non-essential items from the floors, seats and glove box. Take the car through a car wash and vacuum it out. If it needs any minor fixes, make them. It may seem counterproductive to spend money on things like replacing non-working lights or broken mirrors, but it will help you get the highest value possible for the car (if small things aren’t working, people will wonder what else might be wrong with the vehicle).
Now that your car looks beautiful, take lots of pictures of it. If you’re going to sell your car with an online ad, your response rate will be much higher if you include photographs. They don’t have to be professional quality; just grab your smartphone, wait until there’s decent light outside and start snapping away.
Take exterior photos from different angles so you get the front, side and back of the car. Take some pictures of the interior as well. If the car has any special features, photograph them. If the car has any damage you’ll mention in the ad, you might want to take a picture of it (especially if it will convey to the viewer that the damage really isn’t that bad).
This is also a good time to track down your owner’s manual. You may need it to describe some of the car’s features, such as the engine size and type, in your online ad.
Advertising and selling your used car
What’s the best site for selling your used car, truck, van, SUV or other vehicle? They all have positives and negatives. Click on the links below to get our take on the pros and cons of each of these sites, as well as complete instructions for how to post your used car.
When It's Time to Actually Sell Your Used Car
Now that your car has been posted, you can sit back and wait for people to call/email/text you. When that first inquiry comes through, give the person a very basic description of your car. You can use a slightly modified description of your online post. Things to include in your description are the year/make/model, any features you want to highlight, anything that’s new or recently been repaired, the reason you’re selling the car and the price.
You might mention anything that’s wrong with the car or needs to be fixed, but don’t over-embellish. It’s fine to say, “One of the power windows isn’t working, and the estimated repair cost is $200.” Don’t say, “One of the power windows isn’t working, and it’s just the latest thing to break because this car is a real lemon.” It’s responsible to the potential buyer to be upfront about anything that’s wrong with the car. It’s irresponsible to yourself to undersell your valuable asset.
If the person wants to come and test-drive the car, arrange a meeting. This article on Edmunds.com has great advice for making that meeting safe. Here are a few of their tips:
- Meet the person at a public place, not your house.
- Take someone with you to meet the potential buyer. If you can’t do that, make sure someone knows where you’re going and what time you should be back.
- If you feel comfortable, go on the test drive with the person. Take your cell phone so you can call for help if anything goes wrong.
- If you don’t feel comfortable going on the test drive, copy down the person’s driver’s license number or make a photocopy of their license before you let them take the car.
- Trust your gut. If you have any concerns about letting the person drive the car, don’t hand over the keys and leave as soon as possible. There will be other buyers.
If the person likes the car, they may ask to take it to their mechanic for an inspection. This is a fairly standard practice, so you should definitely consider saying yes. It will make them feel more comfortable about purchasing the car. Make sure you clearly communicate when they can pick up the car and when you want it back. And make sure you hang on to their personal information.
The person may come back with a counteroffer that’s lower than your suggested asking price. Have a drop-dead price in mind ahead of time so that you’re not caught off guard if the person wants to haggle. If you can’t agree on a price right away, ask the person for their phone number or email address. If you haven’t found a buyer in a few days, you might want to contact them and accept their price.
When you find someone willing to pay your desired asking price (or something close to it), agree on a method of payment. The buyer may want to pay with cash, check, a cashier’s check, a money order or a wire transfer. All of these are fine except personal checks. If the person has a checking account, they have a bank, and the bank can issue a cashier’s check. It’s a much better way of ensuring you get your money.
You’ve finally sold the car. Congratulations! Before the buyer comes to pick it up, do one last check through the car to make sure you have all of your things. Don’t forget to take any CDs out of the CD player.
Make sure you have all the paperwork you need, including any DMV forms. Keep in mind that if you own the car with someone (a spouse, ex-spouse, parent, etc.) all parties will likely need to sign the title and the other forms. If they can’t be there when you make the sale, make sure you have them sign everything in advance. Should the buyer need to get a bank loan to purchase your vehicle, you may have to meet them at the bank with all your paperwork.
Once you and the buyer have signed the forms, make a photocopy of each for your records. Cancel your auto insurance and make sure the buyer has taken the steps necessary to get the car insured in their name. Hand over the keys and watch your car fade into the sunset.
Your last steps are to submit the paperwork and inform the DMV that the vehicle is no longer in your possession. This last step is critical because you don’t want to be liable if the person commits a crime with the car.
And you’re done! Hopefully the process wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. Now you’re ready for the fun part – spending your cash, watching your bank account balance go up, or shopping for a new car.
HOW TO SELL A USED CAR ON AUTOTRADER
If you haven’t already, begin by referring to the previous article: The Most Complete Guide on How to Sell a Used Car Privately. You’ll Ever Read (specifically the How to get your used car ready to sell section).
AutoTrader has a large audience, so it can be a great place to sell your car, truck, SUV, van or other vehicle. But even if you decide not to sell your used car on AutoTrader, it’s worth visiting the site because they have a wide variety of resources available. They have a close relationship with Kelly Blue Book, so they can quickly and easily give you an estimate for the value of your car. They have specialty sites for people selling motorcycles, classic and exotic cars, and RVs. They can connect you with dealers interested in purchasing used cars.
If you decide to post an ad on AutoTrader, they have a few different options for you. Sellers can connect to the Kelly Blue Book Instant Cash Offer feature. It’s a nice resource if you’re willing to sell to a dealer. To use the feature, you enter several details about your car, including year, make, model and features. Kelly Blue Book comes up with an Instant Cash Offer based on that information. You take that offer to a participating dealer in your community within three days. Once they’ve confirmed the car has all the features you claimed it did, they pay you cash for the car.
If you want to sell your car yourself, AutoTrader gives you two choices. You can use their VIP option, where a person guides you through the process of creating a listing. Or you can create a posting yourself.
How to create an AutoTrader post
For the purpose of this article we’re going to assume you want to sell your used car, truck, van, SUV or other vehicle using AutoTrader’s regular listing service (not the VIP listing service). Your first step in this process is to choose the type of ad you want. Ads range in cost from $25 to $100. The $25 Standard ad runs for four weeks and allows you to post three photographs. There are $50 and $75 ads that give you more photographs and longer running times for the ad. The $100 Premier ad runs until you sell your car and will make your vehicle a “featured” vehicle on the site.
Once you’ve chosen the type of ad you want, click the orange button on the right side of the screen to start creating your ad. AutoTrader will take you to a new page where you’ll be asked to enter a lot of information about your vehicle. Most of the fields are drop-down menus, which will help guide you through the process of entering your car’s details. (For example, if you don’t know what “trim” means, the site will bring up all the options for your vehicle. That makes it easier to understand what information the site is asking for.) Note that some fields are required and others are not.
The page has a box where you can add a narrative description of your car. It’s a good idea to share as many details as possible here. The more information people have about your car, the higher the likelihood they’ll make an inquiry.
Once you’ve answered all the questions on this page, click the orange button to go on to the next page. This is where you can upload photographs of your vehicle. Include all the best interior and exterior shots. If you want to include a few more photos, AutoTrader does give you the option of paying for that privilege.
The next page allows you to preview what your listing will look like. Take a close look at everything. Check to make sure you didn’t accidently include any typos in your description. Once you’re satisfied with your listing, click the orange button at the bottom of the page.
The next page shows you what your ad will look like on the general listings page. This is what people will see before they click through to the full listing.
On this page, AutoTrader gives you the option of purchasing several extras for your ad. You can buy an AutoCheck report, which will show buyers the automobile’s history. You can pay to have your ad highlighted or shown to more buyers. You can also cross-list your post on KellyBlueBook.com, which will get it in front of more potential buyers.
The second-to-last page is where you pay for your ad. Once that’s done, AutoTrader will take you to the confirmation page. Your ad is posted! Sit back and wait for the inquiries to pour in.
ADVANTAGES OF USING AUTOTRADER TO SELL A USED CAR
- Large national following
- Specialized sites for selling motorcycles, classic and exotic cars, and RVs
- Lots of resources and features, including the ability to get an estimate for the value of your vehicle
- Easy to connect with dealers if you decide you don’t want to sell your car to an individual
- AutoTrader is very easy to use and you don’t have to create an account
- You can share pictures of the car, which increases the likelihood of selling it
DISADVANTAGES OF USING AUTOTRADER TO SELL A USED CAR
- There is a fee (and it’s higher than other sites like Ebay Motors)
- If you choose one of the inexpensive ad options, you can’t upload very many photos
HOW TO SELL A USED CAR ON CRAIGSLIST
If you haven’t already, begin by referring to the previous article: The Most Complete Guide to Selling a Used Car You’ll Ever Read (specifically the How to get your used car ready to sell section).
HOW TO CREATE A CRAIGSLIST POST
To sell a used car, truck, van, SUV or other vehicle on Craigslist, find the site for your city or the city closest to where you live. If you type “Craiglist.com,” the site should automatically redirect you to a page. You’ll know you’re on your community’s page because the city and state will be listed in large letters across the top.
If you want to list your used car somewhere else, look to the right side of the page. There’s a long list of nearby cities. Keep in mind that if you list your car in your city, it many show up on the pages for other cities. For example, people who look on the New York City Craigslist page can easily look at listings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester and Fairfield.
To list your car, click on “Post to Classified” on the left side of the page. You can create an account before you post to the site, but it isn’t necessary.
Craigslist will ask what type of ad you want to post. Click on “For sale by owner.” When it takes you to the next page, click on “Cars & Trucks – By Owner.”
You’ll end up on a screen that asks you to enter some personal information, such as your email address and phone number, as well as pen a thorough description of the car. Include as much information about the car as you can. It will help people get a feel for whether the car is right for them. Note that some fields are required and others are not.
For safety reasons, leave your address off the post. Craigslist can create a “blind” email address for you so your real email address doesn’t appear on the site. Using their blind email can reduce the amount of spam you get. To help decrease the likelihood of spammy phone calls, many people enter their phone number in an unusual fashion, such as using the letter “o” in place of the number zero or spelling out some letters.
Craigslist will bring up a new screen where you can post photographs of your used car. Include all the best interior and exterior shots.
Once your post is finished, Craigslist will send you an email confirmation. You must click the link in the email to confirm your posting. You must also agree to Craigslist’s terms of service.
Keep the link in that email so you can manage your post. You’ll need it to take the post down after you’ve sold the car or make changes to the post if you catch typos. If you have an account, you can also get back to the post that way.
ADVANTAGES OF USING CRAIGSLIST TO SELL A USED CAR
- It’s a free service
- The post will reach people in your community (not all over the country)
- It’s easy to use and you don’t have to create an account
- Craigslist doesn’t send you a bunch of spam once you sign up
- You can share pictures of the car, which increases the likelihood of selling it
DISADVANTAGES OF USING CRAIGLIST TO SELL A USED CAR
- Doesn’t reach people outside your area, which is a disadvantage if you’re trying to sell a specialty vehicle
- People sometimes used Craigslist to rob people or make them targets of crime victims. If you search online you’ll find some scary stories about people getting robbed or even injured as a result of trying to sell things on Craigslist. If you follow our basic safety recommendations, such as meeting the potential car buyer in a public place, this is extremely unlikely to happen.
HOW TO SELL A USED CAR ON EBAY MOTORS
This post is a series of posts in how to sell your used car. We talk about the various ways you can and in this one we will be focusing on how to sell your used car on ebay motors.
HOW TO CREATE AN EBAY MOTORS POST
A section of Ebay’s website is dedicated to selling used cars, trucks, vans, SUVs or other vehicles. It’s called Ebay Motors. Although Ebay doesn’t charge you anything to list your vehicle, they will charge you once you sell your vehicle. Rates vary; when we did a sample listing, Ebay informed us that their fee would be $60 if the selling price was under $2000 and $125 if the selling price was over $2000.
To create a classified ad on the site, you first have to create an account. Once that’s done, you can start entering your vehicle’s information. The first step is entering a title. It should include the vehicle’s make and model so Ebay can figure out which category the car might go in. Make the title simple yet informative, such as “2005 Honda Civic in Excellent Condition.” Ebay will give you a chance to choose exactly which category your car should go in. You can list it in more than one category but there’s a fee for that service.
Ebay gives you two options for selling your used car: auctioning it to the highest bidder or selling it for a fixed price. Pick your preference to go on to the next screen.
This is where you enter your actual listing for the vehicle. Include as much information as you can. It will help people get a feel for whether the car is right for them. Most of the descriptive fields come with drop-down menus. Entering information here will help people find your vhecile when they search the site.
There is a place at the end to enter a narrative description of your vehicle. Note that some fields are required and others are not. Also note that you must pay extra for some fields.
Once you’ve entered as much information as possible, click “Save and Continue” at the bottom of the page. The next screen is where you’ll enter your asking price, duration of the post and other information. You can also enter photographs on this page. Again, you have to pay extra if you use some of the options on this page.
On the next page you’ll enter payment information. Ebay allows the buyer to pay for the car many ways, including cashier’s check, cash or PayPal.
You’re almost done! Review the ad to make sure everything looks okay, then hit “Continue.” You may be asked to sign into your account one more time to confirm that your personal information is correct and the ad looks acceptable. After that, your ad will become active on the website.
ADVANTAGES OF USING EBAY MOTORS TO SELL A USED CAR
- Reaches a nationwide audience, which is an advantage if you’re trying to sell a specialty vehicle
- Lots of advanced features for creating a great looking posting that are not available on other sites, such as post subtitles and
- Ability to auction your vehicle or sell it for a fixed price
- You can share pictures of the car, which increases the likelihood of selling it
DISADVANTAGES OF USING CRAIGLIST TO SELL A USED CAR
- There is a fee to sell your vehicle (but not to list it)
- People looking to buy a car locally are less likely to visit Ebay Motors
- You have to create an account to use the site
HOW TO SELL A USED CAR ON FACEBOOK
If you haven’t already, begin by referring to the previous article: The Most Complete Guide to Selling a Used Car You’ll Ever Read (specifically the How to get your used car ready to sell section).
CAN YOU SELL A USED CAR ON FACEBOOK?
Unlike other sites like AutoTrader, Craigslist, Ebay Motors, Kelly Blue Book and Yahoo Autos, you cannot create a classified ad on Facebook. You can pay for ads, but the whole idea of social networking is to connect with your friends for free.
If you want to let your friends know that you’re selling a used car, truck, van, SUV or other vehicle, Facebook and other social networking sites are a great way to do that. Friends may be more likely to buy a car from you because they trust you more than, say, the average person on Craigslist. Here are several tips that will help you make the most of Facebook and other social networking sites.
TIPS FOR ADVERTISING YOUR USED CAR ON FACEBOOK
You can put all the details about your used car in a Facebook message, add some photos and share it with your friends. But if you’re also planning to create an ad on a classified site like AutoTrader, Craigslist, Ebay Motors, Kelly Blue Book or Yahoo Autos, you should do that first and share the ad with your Facebook friends. That way you’ve gathered all the information about your car on a site where it’s easy to view.
Use your best judgement about how often to remind your friends that you’re selling your car. You probably don’t want to remind them every day; they’ll get tired of your posts and block or unfriend you. Once a week may be more appropriate. Also, try to post other interesting things about what’s happening in your life so your friends aren’t only seeing ads for your used car.
If you aren’t on Facebook all the time, remember to check it a few times a day to see if anyone has responded and said they’re interested in buying your vehicle. Depending on your settings, you should receive a notifications from Facebook every time someone comments on your post. That will also help you know if someone is interested in the vehicle.
Facebook has other features that can help you brag about your car to your friends. You can do a video tour of the car and point out all its great features, then post that to your page. You can tag friends who are in the market for a new car so they’re more likely to see your post. You can ask people to share your post with people they know or tag their friends who are shopping for a used car.
If you’re still driving the car, Facebook allows you to check in at different locations so people know where you are with the car. You never know – a friend who lives out of town may be interested in buying your vehicle and would be more likely to take it for a test drive if you’ve come to their area.
Once you sell your car, make sure your friends know it’s gone. Depending on how you feel about parting with your vehicle, they can help you celebrate or mourn.
ADVANTAGES OF USING FACEBOOK TO SELL A USED CAR
- The site is free
- Your friends are more likely to buy a car from you because they trust you to be honest about the car’s condition
- Facebook has built-in tools that make it easy to share information, post pictures and videos, and let people know your location
DISADVANTAGES OF USING FACEBOOK TO SELL A USED CAR
- You can’t create a classified ad with information about your car
- You reach a somewhat limited group of people who may or may not be in the market for a used car. Many people use Facebook to keep up with friends who live out of the area; they are unlikely to be interested in your car.
HOW TO SELL A USED CAR ON KELLYBLUEBOOK.COM
In our series of guides on how to sell a used car privately, we will now discuss how to sell your used car on Kelly Blue Book.
THREE RESOURCES FOR SELLING A USED CAR ON KELLY BLUE BOOK
One of the things that makes KellyBlueBook.com different from other car selling sites is that they offer a variety of tools. You can use different resources depending on how you want to sell your used car, truck, van, SUV or other vehicle.
To use Kelly Blue Book’s “Instant Cash Offer” feature, you enter lots of details about your car into the Kelly Blue Book website. They come up with a price for your vehicle using the estimating features on their website. You take that Instant Cash Offer to a participating dealer in your community within three days. Once they’ve confirmed has all the features you claimed it did, they pay you cash for the car.
Since you’re working with a dealer, you can assume you’re getting a low-ball offer for your car. Still, this can be a quick and easy way to off-load your used car if you aren’t planning to trade it in.
In the “Help me tap into my social network” section, Kelly Blue Book offer advice and tools for sharing information about your car on Facebook and other social networking sites. They can print modern-looking window signs to put in your car, and share other tips for selling your car without advertising it online.
The third option is to create a classified ad and post your used car in the sales section of Kelly Blue Book’s website. The ads reach individuals, not dealerships, so you’re more likely to get the highest cash value for your car. Kelly Blue Book charges between $20 and $60 for each ad depending on how long you want to post it.
CREATING AN AD ON KELLY BLUE BOOK
The first step in selling your car on Kelly Blue Book is to pick how much you’re willing to pay for your ad and how long you want it to run.
Once you’ve selected that, Kelly Blue Book will take you to a new page where you can enter information about your used car, truck, SUV, van or other vehicle. Note that some fields are required and others are not. Most of the fields where you enter information are drop-down menus, which will help guide you through the process of entering your information (for example, if you don’t know what “trim” means, the site will bring up all the options for your vehicle, which makes it easier to understand what information the site is asking for).
There are several places where you click on the field and Kelly Blue Book generates a pop-up window. These pop-up windows help you get or share more information in your ad. For example, when you click on the asking price for your car, the site offers to take you to Kelly Blue Book’s vehicle value finding site so you know how much to ask for your car. When you get to the field where you can enter a narrative description of your vehicles, you can check phrases you might want to include, such as “Fully loaded with all the goodies,” “New tires” and “Still under factory warranty.”
The page has a box where you can add a narrative description of your car. It’s a good idea to share some detailed information about your vehicle. The more information people have about your car, the higher the likelihood they’ll make an inquiry.
At the bottom of the page you’ll be asked to enter your contact information. Then you’ll be directed to the next page so you can upload photos of the car. Include all the best interior and exterior shots (keeping in mind that the site may limit the number of photos you can post).
On the next page you can review how your ad will look to potential buyers once they click on the listing. Do a thorough read-through. Check to make sure you don’t have any typos in your narrative description.
On the next screen, Kelly Blue Book will show you how your classified ad will appear on their listing page. This is a much smaller ad, and shows what people will see before they click on the full listing.
This is also where you can pay for some additional options, such as adding a photo to that listing and cross-posting your ad on AutoTrader. (For more details about selling your car on AutoTrader, see our page How to sell a used car on AutoTrader).
On the last page, you enter your credit card information and purchase your ad. Once that’s done, your posting will go live. Hopefully you’ll begin getting emails and phone calls quickly.
ADVANTAGES OF USING KELLY BLUE BOOK TO SELL A USED CAR
- Helpful tools, such as an easy way to look up the value of your car, or the ability to print customized “For Sale” signs to stick in your car windows
- Reaches a wide national audience, which is helpful if you’re trying to sell a vintage, collectible or unusual car
- It’s very easy to create an ad
DISADVANTAGES OF USING KELLY BLUE BOOK TO SELL A USED CAR
- You have to pay for the ad. The price is higher than other sites like Ebay Motors.
- People in your local community may be less likely to look on KellyBlueBook.com than Craigslist
- You can only post a limited number of photos with less expensive ads
HOW TO SELL A USED CAR ON YOUR FRONT LAWN
This is another series in our guides of how to sell your used car privately. You have many options, and your front yard is an option for selling your used car.
The tools available for selling a used car, truck, van, SUV or other vehicle have changed a lot in the past 20 years. In the past, most people sold their used vehicle from their front lawn or driveway. To reach buyers, they put an ad in the newspaper or posted signs in the windows. Today, people are much more likely to create a classified ad on a website such as Craigslist, AutoTrader, Kelly Blue Book or Ebay.
If you want to skip the computer and sell your car from your front lawn, we have several tips for spreading the word and selling your car quickly.
PLACE AN AD IN THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER
Most newspapers still accept classified ads because they’re a great source of revenue. Call your local paper and ask about the costs and procedures for ordering a classified ad. If you decide to order the ad, someone in the advertising department should be able to take all of your information over the phone.
If you want to advertise your used car in the newspaper, look beyond the major publication in your area. There might be a weekly or bi-weekly paper that offers cheaper classified ads. There are penny papers or advertising circulars that are distributed in many communities. Your church’s bulletin or the newsletter for a club may take classified ads.
PUT SIGNS ON COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARDS
Grocery stores, senior and community centers, malls, parks and many other public places have bulletin boards where people can post information. These can be great places to advertise your car. Create a simple flier with facts about your car. The more details you include, the more likely it is that people will respond to your ad. If possible, include a picture on the flier. That will greatly increase the number of phone calls or emails you get.
Consider making a sign with tear-off tabs that contain your name, phone number and basic details about the car. You can hand-write in this information, but you can also find a lot of free templates for these types of signs online. Search “flier with tear off tabs” and you’ll get several results.
POST SIGNS IN THE CAR’S WINDOWS
One easy way to advertise your used car is to place signs in the window. You can buy sign templates at WalMart, Target, Walgreens or similar stores. You can also print them out on your computer or write them out by hand.
Besides listing “For Sale” on the sign, you can keep the information basic: The car’s year, make, model, mileage, price and your contact information. Make several so you can post them on both sides of the car, as well as the back. That will increase the chances people will see the signs no matter where you’re parked.
If you’re still driving the car, make sure the signs are positioned in a way that you can still see out the windows (or make signs that can easily be removed when you’re driving).
FIND HIGHLY VISIBLE PLACES TO PARK YOUR CAR
If your main method of advertising your car is window signs, it’s a good idea to find highly visible places to park your car (especially if you live on a street that doesn’t get much traffic). Here are a few ideas:
- When you’re at home, park on the street instead of the driveway.
- Everywhere you go, park next to the street instead of next to the building. If possible, park away from all the other cars in the parking lot so your vehicle (and your signs) are more visible.
- If you or someone you know works for a company that’s located along a major street, see if you can leave your car parked there for an extended period of time. Have a roommate, spouse or coworker provide transportation to and from work, or take the bus so you can leave the car.
- See if you can strike a similar deal to leave the car in the parking lot of an organization you’re affiliated with. Your church, fraternal organization or athletic club might be willing to let you leave the car in their parking lot for a few days.
USE WORD OF MOUTH
Spread the word that you have a great car for sale. Tell your friends, and ask them to tell their friends. If you use Facebook or other social media sites, post a message or two on them (for more details on this, see our post How to sell a used car on Facebook). You never know; someone in your network may be looking for just the type of car you’re selling!
ADVANTAGES OF SELLING A USED CAR ON YOUR FRONT LAWN
- It’s very inexpensive
- You don’t have to use a computer or the internet
- All of these advertising methods are very simple to execute
DISADVANTAGES OF SELLING A USED CAR ON YOUR FRONT LAWN
- There is some expense involved if you buy signs, place a classified ad or print out posters
- Your audience is somewhat limited
- If you choose to advertise in all these places and all these ways, it can be more time consuming than placing one ad online
HOW TO SELL A USED CAR TO A SCRAP YARD OR CAR JUNKER
If you haven’t already, begin by referring to the previous article: The Most Complete Guide to How to Sell a Used Car Privately You’ll Ever Read (specifically the How to get your used car ready to sell section).
If your car, truck, SUV, van or other vehicle is in such poor condition that no one will buy it, your only option for selling it may be a scrap yard or car junker. These businesses will buy the car for its parts, not its value as a vehicle.
Any medium-sized to large community should have several scrap yards, car junkers or auto salvage yards. There are also national intermediaries that will help you find a local car junker and get the highest value for your car. There are some pitfalls to watch out for when you’re working with any of these companies, so make sure you go into any negotiations prepared.
Here is a quick description of the differences between the different types of businesses described in this article:
- A car junker is a company that specializes in buying cars and selling them for the various parts.
- A scrap metal yard takes used metal of all types from a variety of sources. All the metal they sell is sold to recyclers.
- An auto salvage yard is a place where junked cars get parked so people can come and pick through them for parts. At some point, all of these cars will go to a scrap metal yard for recycling.
Your first step is to find the car junkers in your community. An internet search for “car junkers,” “metal scrap yard” or “auto salvage yard” should bring up several possibilities. You should also ask friends if they have recommendations to good places to call. This industry is notorious for scams, so you want to work with someone with a good reputation.
Call the various businesses you found during your search and ask if they’re buying junked cars. Be prepared to give them a description of your vehicle, including the reason you’re trying to sell it. Ask what requirements they have for people bringing in junk cars. Some places might require you to remove items such as the tires first. Others want your car as-is. If your car isn’t running and needs to be towed, ask if they have a towing service and how much they charge.
Ask each car junker or scrap yard to give you an estimated value for your vehicle. You should get several price quotes before you make a final decision about where to take your car. That way you know you’re getting the best deal possible. Create a list so you can record each business’s name, who you talked to, the date and time you received the quote, the estimated price, and any details about preparing the car.
Making these calls will also give you some sense of about how much your car is worth. Some car junkers will try to give you a low-ball offer so they can make as much money as possible on your used car. Others will give you a very high price over the phone, but as soon as you arrive they point out some flaw on your car and tell you they’ll only pay half of what they previously offered. In any estimate seems way too high or low, be cautious.
That being said, you should know that the price you’ll receive for your used car will vary quite a bit depending on the price of scrap metal. Sometimes a used car will net you hundreds of dollars; other times you’ll barely be able to convince local scrap metal dealers to take your car for free. Just because your friend made $400 on a junked car six months ago and you’re getting estimates for $200 doesn’t necessarily mean the dealers are ripping you off.
Once you’ve decided where to sell your used car, check with your local DMV office to see what paperwork you need to sell a junked car. The scrap yard or car junker should have all of that on hand, but you should know what you need before you walk in so you can be sure you remove any remaining liability you may have for the vehicle.
When you take your used car to the car junker or scrap yard, make sure you bring all the necessary paperwork, including the title and any paperwork that needed to be filling out in advance. If the car has a co-owner, such as a spouse or parent, make sure that person comes with you or signs all the paperwork beforehand.
You might want to bring a friend or relative when you drop off your used car. It’s harder for the people at the business try to bully you or rip you off if there’s a second person there as a witness. You might also bring the list you made at the beginning, where you wrote down all the price quotes you received. If you can show the person something in writing, they may be slightly more likely to stick to the original price they gave you.
ADVANTAGES OF SELLING A USED CAR TO A SCRAP YARD OR CAR JUNKER
- If you have no other way of selling your vehicle (typically because it’s been in an accident, doesn’t run or is in extremely poor condition), selling to a scrap yard or car junker allows you to earn a little money for your vehicle
- There’s no fee involved, so it won’t cost you anything to sell your used car
DISADVANTAGES OF SELLING A USED CAR TO A SCRAP YARD OR CAR JUNKER
- The price you’ll receive from a scrap yard or car junker is likely less than you’d receive if you sold the vehicle to a private party or a dealership
- It can be time consuming to call several scrap yards or car junkers in your community to locate the one that will give you the best price
- Scrap yards and car junkers are notorious for trying to rip people off. If possible, get recommendations from friends or work with a national intermediary with a good reputation to make sure you sell your car to a company that will treat you fairly.