How to Sell Your Used Car - How Much Is My Car Worth?

How to Sell Your Used Car - How Much Is My Car Worth?

Selling a used car on your own can be challenging and time consuming.

You need to allow yourself time to create advertisements that will make people interested in buying your car. You also need to be prepared to take the time to meet with people who are interested in the car so that they can look it over. Before you begin to advertise, think about how you would prefer to receive contact from interested buyers. If you use your own phone number, for example, you will need to be available to answer the calls as often as possible.

In some cases, we can just trade it in to the dealer during the purchase of the new car, but that generally does not allow us to achieve maximum return on the sale. In order to do that, it is going to require some effort, such as selling the car ourselves. That introduces its own set of problems, and it leaves us asking some difficult-to-answer questions, such as how to, and how much do I sell the used car for.

1. Setting the Price

Sometimes the most difficult part of selling your own car is deciding how much you should charge for it. Consider how much money you paid for it when you bought it. Figure in any improvements you may have made while you owned the car. If you start with what you have invested, take off for anything that has deteriorated during your ownership. The age of the car and the condition of the motor will play a big part in how much someone will be willing to pay. Do some research to see if there are other cars like yours are being sold in your area and what their prices are? Compare your car to those cars and choose a price that makes sense.

2. Prepare the Car for Sale

A used car needs to be as clean as possible for a successful sale. Fully detail your car inside and out before you put it on the market. Clean, wax, and polish the exterior. Vacuum the carpets and clean the upholstery so that it looks as new as possible. Sometimes the way a car looks will sell a car even if it does not run well. Try to make the car look like no one has ever driven it before.

3. Advertising Locally and Online

When the car is clean and you have decided on a price that you feel is fair, it is time to begin posting advertisements. Write a short description of your car and submit it to the classified section of your local newspaper. Online used car sales have become very popular in recent years. If you advertise your car online, be sure to include a good photo to go along with the advertisement.

4. Showing the Car to Potential Buyers

Once you have people who are interested in looking at your car, try to schedule meetings with them during the day. Find a neutral location, like a convenience store parking lot, where the potential buyer will feel comfortable looking your car over. Be sure to point out any problems the car may have so that the buyer does not worry that you are trying to trick them. Invite the buyers. to start the car and listen to the engine run. If the buyer wants to take the car for a test drive, ask to come along so that you can answer any questions.

How Much Should I Sell My Car For?

Technically, a car is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it, but that is not much help if you are trying to decide on a realistic asking price. Further, most people making a vehicle purchase do not have much cash lying around and want to finance, and banks or loan companies demand that a vehicle’s value be determined before making a loan. If you are selling a vehicle, it is a good idea to find out what the market price of your car is before putting it up for sale, no matter what asking price or selling price you determine in the end.


There are several ways to find out the value of your vehicle, but the process can be somewhat confusing. There are three prices that a vehicle will carry: book value, trade-in value, and retail value. The price you receive will depend on the conditions under which you sell the vehicle.

The first major point of consideration is repair. Is it worth it to repair the car, or do I sell it as is? As a general rule of thumb, if the malfunction or damage prevents a driver from driving it properly, then the cost of repair will pay for itself in the amount for which you will sell your used car. This can sometimes be the case with purely cosmetic damage as well. For instance, it is often better to replace a severely dented hood prior to sale because it is a focal and has a dramatic effect on buyer perception.

Many people choose to trade in a used vehicle when purchasing a new vehicle. This can be confusing, as many dealers, in order to close a sale, will inflate the trade-in value while simultaneously inflating the price of your new car to cover the difference. It is in the dealer’s best interest to finance as large a sum as possible with their in-house lenders, who want to collect more interest on the loan. If you are trading in a vehicle, find out the market value of your car, then ask for a trade-in price after you have determined the price of the new car. This prevents the vehicle dealer from inflating the trade in and the asking price of your new car.

Retail value of your car is an artificially inflated price that reflects the car dealer’s cost of purchasing the vehicle before selling it to you along with any markup the dealer adds. It is highly unlikely you will receive retail value for your used vehicle if you sell it yourself, although you would probably pay the retail price, or close to it, if you bought the same car from a dealer.

If you are making a private sale of your vehicle, you should find the market value, or book value, of your car and use it to determine your asking price. You can find the book value of your car easily by using one of a few internet web sites that offer this service, sometimes for a fee. Write down the year, make, model, and trim level of your vehicle, along with the mileage, and determine its condition. Be realistic: most used cars are not in “excellent” condition, and any body repairs or engine work needed will devalue the vehicle further.

With the book value in hand, search online and in newspapers for similar cars sold in your area. Note aspects such as condition and mileage, both of which can affect prices dramatically. Examine at least a dozen cases, which should expose the occurrences where the car is either under priced or overpriced. At the end of this process, the seller should have an accurate assessment of the price at which they can sell used car.

Keep in mind that there are situations where used car dealers is the right choice. For instance, if the area in which you live undervalues your model for whatever reason, then the local dealers may provide you with the best price due to their reach outside of the region.

We are an informed society, and you can expect private buyers to come armed with much of the resource you had at your disposal. For this reason, private deals can be very smooth and prices agreed upon quickly. Of course, a private buyer will be looking for a deal, so prior to listing the car or parking it in your front yard, decide how much lower than its “value” you will be willing to sell the car at. This will save you a great deal of trouble when the haggling begins.

What Paperwork do I Need to Sell my Car?

You may decide to sell your vehicle in to a dealership, trade it in for another car or sell it privately, which will net you more money on average. No matter which option you choose, the paperwork required is the same.

Selling used vehicle

The absolutely most important piece of paperwork required to sell a vehicle is the title to the car. If you own the car outright you should have a clear title in your possession with only your name. If you’re still making payments on the vehicle, your title will also have the name of the applicable lien holder. When you pay off your vehicle, the loan company will then release the lien on the car and you’ll get a new title issued with only your name. If you’ve paid off your car and have not received a clear title you’ll need to contact the lending company to inform them so they can contact your state’s Department of Vehicles. If you’re still making payments on a vehicle you wish to sell, make sure you contact the lender beforehand to make arrangements.

In addition to the title, make sure you bring your vehicle’s registration with you when you sell your used car. The car’s registration is very important because the DMV tracks information about all vehicles on the road, such as the owner, plate number, VIN and title number associated with the car. If you don’t have the vehicle registered there may be a few things you can do when selling to get around this hurdle, depending on your state. The first step to sell a car without a registration is to write a bill of sale. This must include the following information: both your name and the buyer’s name, addresses, the vehicle VIN number, the year, make and model of the car and the amount that you are selling for. This should be signed in front of a notary.

Next, go to the DMV for paperwork to sell your used car. You must bring your title, valid ID and proof that you own the car. At the DMV you’ll be able to do a title transfer, signing the title over the the person buying the vehicle. There will be fees associated with this, depending on the state, that may include sales tax. The buyer is responsible for these fees, as well as paying for their own registration.

Additional paperwork you should bring with you when you sell your car includes any receipts for repair work and regular maintenance. If you have kept a regular log of maintenance you’ll also find you get a higher sale price for the vehicle. This also makes potential buyers more comfortable with the purchase because they are ensured the car was cared for. You should also bring a list of any parts that have been replaced on the vehicle and copies of any required safety checks in your state.

How Much Does it Cost to Transfer a Car Title?

Transferring a car title will cost you some time and a little money. While the process of transferring a vehicle title is similar from state to state, there are differences. If you purchase a vehicle from a dealer, the dealership typically handles all of the required paperwork for you. If you purchase a vehicle from a private party, however, you will have to take care of this yourself. Be sure that both you and the seller fill in the necessary information on the back of the title. If possible, you may even want the seller to accompany you when you transfer the title and register your vehicle.

  • Where To Go and What To Bring: The agency that handles vehicle registrations and titles in most states is called the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In many cases you can now download at least some of the required paperwork and complete it ahead of time, but you will still most likely need to visit a local branch in person to complete the title transfer. The documents required in most states include a bill of sale with the sale price included, your driver’s license, proof that the title has been assigned to you, the vehicle identification number (VIN), and a statement with the current odometer reading. Once the paperwork has been completed, the state will record the title transfer and reissue the title for the vehicle in your name.
  • Timeline and Insurance: Most states require that the vehicle title transfer takes place within a certain amount of time after the sale. This time frame varies by state, so be sure to check your state’s policy and complete the transfer within this time period. Also, sellers will want to maintain insurance coverage on the vehicle until the title transfer has been completed, and buyers will want to be sure to get the new vehicle insured in their name as soon as possible.
  • Title Transfer Fees So, what fees need to be paid and how much will it cost: Generally the fees involved in transferring ownership of a vehicle include a registration fee, the title transfer fee and the purchase or transfer of license plates. Sales tax on the purchase price of the vehicle will have to be paid as well in most states. The registration fees you will have to pay depend on the state in which you are registering the vehicle.

Avoid DMV Headaches

The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) is one of the few places we cringe at the thought of visiting. Who can blame us? Long lines, stacks of paperwork, and sometimes even large fees contribute to DMV headaches. Let’s not forget the frequently forgotten paperwork or identification after several hours of waiting, only to realize you must return again tomorrow for another round of lines, paperwork, and waiting. Unfortunately, no one escapes the requirement of a visit to the DMV every-so-often. If you wish to drive, work, own a car, or, in some states, own and operate a boat, a visit to the DMV is imminent.

The DMV offers vital services such as drivers licenses and renewals, vehicle registration, general ID cards, and the ever important drivers education classes, among a long list of other services. Since we know we cannot live without these services, nor can we avoid a trip to the dreaded DMV, how do we prepare ourselves to reduce the stress and time put into such a trip? The answer – Plan Ahead.

If it’s time for you to renew your license or registration, call the DMV and find out what their hours of operation are and what times on which days are busiest, so you can avoid them. Find out what paperwork and identification will be required and, if applicable, what fees will be charged so you aren’t surprised by a large bill.

If you aren’t able to get through to your local DMV by phone, as phone lines are often congested, visit the web site. Most states, cities, and counties have official web sites set up for their local DMV offices that provide you with just about everything you need to know before visiting your local branch. While the web sites certainly offer useful information to help your trip to the DMV go more smoothly, there are often options available to help you avoid the DMV office altogether.

Many times, web sites are equipped with online renewal forms for vehicle registration. You simply fill out the online form, change any information required, such as a possible change of address, and pay any fees via the online form with a credit card. No lines; no headaches; no missing a day of work. In fact, you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas.

If you’re the unfortunate one who must still pay a visit to your local DMV branch, simply be sure that you’re prepared in advance. If possible, print and fill out all the necessary forms at home via the web site. Check with your local DMV to see if they offer an appointment service to make your trip faster and simpler. If they do, take advantage of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if a trip to the DMV didn’t mean a long wait in line for forms and a number? You could be in and out, much like a trip to a fast food restaurant, if you just take the time to plan ahead.


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