plan for selling
Saving Money

9 Step Plan for Selling Your Car

If you’ve grown tired of driving the same vehicle and are in need of a change, consider these 9 basic steps for selling your car. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about selling a vehicle in 2022, including helpful tips on how to make the most money on your sale. Here are the 9 steps for selling your vehicle:

1. Decide how you want to sell your car

The first thing to consider when selling your car is the way in which you want to sell it. You can trade in your car by selling it to a dealership. This makes selling your car fast and convenient and takes a lot of the stress off your plate. However, car dealerships are known to buy low and sell high in order to make a profit themselves off your vehicle. While the convenience is there, often you can make more off your car by selling it privately on your own. This way you can negotiate directly with buyers and save money from any overhead dealer costs. Or you could explore the option of an instant cash offer. With this, you first find out what your car is worth, then take the appraisal to a participating dealer to quickly and easily get your cash. 

2. Gather the necessary paperwork  

Locate the following items and make sure everything is in one place for a smoother selling process. 

  • Car Title: The title establishes that you’re the legal owner of the vehicle. You will have to sign over the title to the new owner once the sale occurs. 
  • Original Sales Paperwork: Despite knowing the basics of your car–such as the year, make, model, and mileage–the original paperwork provides insight on features that have the potential to bump up your car’s resale value. 
  • Maintenance and Service Records: These records help notify the buyer of how well kept your vehicle is and allow you to negotiate a price point.
  • Vehicle History Report: This simply lets buyers know if the car has ever been involved in any accidents, and if it has, be prepared to answer any questions about it. 


3. Prepare your car for selling

You want to give your car some curb appeal so that way when a buyer sees your vehicle they think, “Wow, looks great!” This doesn’t mean you have to fix every scratch and dent, but any possible cracks in the windows or a noisy exhaust pipe may be something you’ll want to switch out. Give your car a nice wash and vacuum, perhaps a nice detailing job, so that way it looks good as new for its potential buyers. 

4. Set an asking price

You want to set an appealing price without valuing your car for less than its worth. To get an estimate on your car’s value, you can use sites like Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book, and you can check local listings to see what similar vehicles are selling for. 

5. Advertise your sale

This next step is very beneficial in the sale of your car. Take pictures–and take lots of them. Good pictures are crucial to build confidence in your buyer’s mind and make your car stand out. Try a few locations with different lighting and angles to make sure you’re showing off your vehicle in it’s best setting. Avoid a lot of objects in the background to keep the viewer’s attention on the car. Lighting is typically best during the first few hours after sunrise or the hour or two before sunset. This way the light isn’t so harsh from directly above. Attach these photos to an ad post you’ve created describing your car and its features. There are plenty of platforms where you can post your ad such as Craigslist, Autotrader, and Ebay Motors.

6. Contact prospective buyers

If you’d like, include a separate email or contact line so that you can keep all inquiries for your car organized from your personal files. This can help you screen buyers carefully. Make sure to respond in a timely fashion and don’t be afraid to move on from buyers that don’t seem serious. If you’re selling to a dealership, go through the offers you’ve received and see which one is the best. Then contact the dealership to work on finalizing the sale. 

7. Set up a test drive 

For private-party sales, it’s commonplace to set up a test drive with the potential buyer. Meet in a safe, public location during the daytime. If possible, bring a friend or family member with you. Ride alongside them for the test drive. Avoid giving a sales pitch so that the buyer can focus on the driving experience and so they can ask questions as needed. 

8. Negotiate a price for selling

Let the buyer make the opening offer and be patient with this process. You might go back and forth with the buyer before arriving at a reasonable price. Make sure that you pre-determine the lowest offer that you will accept. This will allow you to remain flexible if need be. It’s also important to be realistic and firm in your price point–saying no when the buyer offers a price lower than your acceptable price. 

9. Close the Deal 

Before closing the deal, ensure that the buyer is prepared to pay in cash or with a cashiers check. Touchless options such as PayPal and Zelle are becoming more popular options as well. Once you’ve received payment, sign and date the title. Then turn over the bill of sale to the car’s new owner. Don’t forget to make copies of these documents for your own safekeeping. The last thing you’ll have to do is let your state’s department of motor vehicles know that you no longer own the car and go ahead and cancel the car’s auto insurance. 


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Linzi Martin
Linzi Martin has worked as a content manager, consultant, and writer for the past six years. She's handled everything from blogs and articles to e-books and social media content. Her work has been featured in various publications including Apartment Guide, The Startup, and Voyage Magazine. Outside of work, Linzi enjoys staying active, frequenting new restaurants around South Florida, and spending time with her family.

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