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Selling A Car Privately for Cash – Steps to Selling A Car Privately

Selling A Car Privately for Cash – Steps to Selling A Car Privately

Selling a car privately for cash can be done as long as you follow certain regulations and guidelines.


Are you looking to sell your car for cash in the privacy of your own home? Have you decided to get rid of that second car?

In order to sell a car privately, you have to do the research, do a little leg-work and come up with a great strategy to attract buyers from beginning to end.

Turn your car into cash with minimum hassle by pricing it strategically, advertising it on the right sites, separating those that are serious buyers from the folks who just love to “talk a good game”.

So, when it comes to selling a car privately, check out some ways that you can take away the stress, but still maximize your profit!

What to do When Selling A Car Privately

OK, so you’ve got a great looking sedan or a wonderful older SUV that runs well, but you no longer have a use for it. It’s time to sell it! What do you do first? Where do you go? Check out our steps and see what you take from our advice!

Get Your Car Ready for A Sale

When you decide to sell your used car, it’s time to get it ready to go. So, first, you take the time to remove all personal items out of the car.  Next move to cleaning it inside and out. Show me a person who wants to buy a dirty car… See? That person doesn’t exist! So, make sure you clean it. Vacuum the mats, and wipe the inside console down with a polish or a spray that makes things shine.

Thoroughly Assess Your Car’s General Condition

When selling a car privately, you want to take the time to look at your car and come to know its condition. Whether you have a van to sell, a pickup truck or a great running older vehicle, you need to know what you are passing to others, in an effort to make a profit.

So, after you get that oil change, you may ask for an inspection of your car. You want an honest auto professional to tell you all that is “good, bad and ugly” about your car. Check out some examples we offer:

  • What electrical issues does your car have? Are there any shortages anywhere?
  • How well is your transmission running? Does it “purr like a kitten” or sound loud?
  • Does your older car have any suspension problems?
  • Is it time for wheel alignment? Does it “shake, rattle and roll” down the street?
  • How’s that engine? An engine is the “heart” of a car. So, how well does yours run

When selling a used car privately, you want to be an informed seller and know all about your car, so that when the questions fly, you’ll know how to catch as well as answer them!

Gather All of the Paperwork for The Car

When privately selling a car make sure you can locate the following items:

  • The Car Title – Also known as the “pink slip”, this is perhaps most important piece of paperwork to have. Your car title provides you with the legal right to sell your used car. If you are not able to find your title or you’ve lost it, then you should consider going to your local DMV office or the office that handles car titles, in your town. You need a duplicate car title. Lots of places will not buy a car without a title, although there are some car buyers that will purchase your car without a title.
  • Payoff Paperwork – If you still owe money on your used vehicle, then as the car seller, it’s your job to call or visit your lender and learn how to arrange a sale. Selling a car with a lien does not fly in several states. And selling a car with a lien can be a headache. Selling a car privately with a lien is never a good idea. No one wants to pay for existing debt. So, if you’re able to do so, pay off the vehicle before selling it.
  • Vehicle history report – We live in a world of scammers but we live in a world of righteous people. You are a righteous one and have nothing to hide from potential buyers. Given such, you can supply each of them with a vehicle history report. Think of the vehicle history report as the paper that answers all of the questions potential buyers would have. Be a trustworthy seller and offer a vehicle history report to potential buyers!
  • Transferable Warranty – Did you purchase a warranty on your car? Are you able to transfer it to the new owner? Then another piece of paperwork to have during the sell of your car, is the transferable warranty. Additionally, you can even adjust your asking price, due to this document.
  • The “As Is” Documents – For a car that may have a host of issues, you many want to offer potential buyers, “as-is” paperwork. You want a document for selling a car privately, that tells buyers, what they see is what they get. Additionally, you also want to offer buyers an opportunity to bow out of the sale, if they are not interested. You can look at this document similarly to the vehicle history report. This paperwork shows that you have nothing to hide from potential buyers, who are interested in your car.
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement – In many states, you are able to disclose the current mileage reading on the title of the vehicle. Other states require that you write the mileage on a separate paper. This is called an odometer statement. So, to find out what your state needs, you may need to give a call to your local DMV office or the office that handles car titles and related issues. Generally, an odometer disclosure statement has the following:
  1. The VIN
  2. The buyer’s signature
  3. The seller’s signature
  4. Name and address of the buyer
  5. Current mileage at the time of purchase
  6. The year, make and model of the car.
  7. Notary signature (if a notary is a must. Some states don’t need an odometer statement notarized.)

These important documents for selling a car privately are not only good to have, but will ensure that your car sale goes smoothly. So, do the legwork and spend the time gathering them. You’ll thank yourself later!

how to protect yourself when selling a car privately

How to Protect Yourself When Selling A Car Privately

Looking to sell a car privately? As a car seller you need to practice safety from the very beginning of your car sale, to the very end! Check out some common scams and learn how to dodge them!

  • Speak with a Person -When deciding to sell online and you give an email as a form of contact, you will always attract those folks who live for a good scam. So, when you converse through email, it is important that you ask to speak with a live person. When you have a conversation with a potential buyer, you are able to screen them better.

Additionally, you can ask potential buyers what they are looking for, in a car. Do they want something that can fix, repair and rebuild? Is your potential buyer looking for a car for his/her spouse? Does a parent need a car for that teen or college student? Speaking with someone, as opposed to exchanging emails for weeks, is better and shows more honestly and integrity.

  • Be careful when going on a test drive – If you have found what you believe to be a legitimate car buyer, and he or she requests a test drive, consider picking a safe place. Think about a public as well as a central meet-up for that test drive. You also want to meet perspective buyers during the day. Good parking lots of malls or shopping areas are great places for a test drive.

And keep your test drive short and simple. Additional tips for tips for selling a car privately with that car buyer wanting a test drive include:

  • Asking the buyer for his or her license.
  • Getting a friend to accompany you and the buyer on the test drive
  • And never drive to a location that you are not familiar. There is no reason for a test drive to in area of town you’re not familiar with.

Tips for Selling A Car Privately – Pitfalls To Avoid

Your car was once your prized possession. Getting the maximum amount of cash for your used car requires a lot of know-how, patience a good backbone and lots of knowledge. Even though you are a thorough and intelligent person, you can make some mistakes during the process of selling your car.

So, check out some common pitfalls car sellers make and learn how to avoid them.

Not Knowing Your Car’s Value

As a car seller, you have to know the approximate value of your car. Thankfully, the Internet makes it possible for you to get that information with a few taps on your keyboard and a couple clicks of your mouse. Sites such as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds offer car sellers an approximate value of your car. Of course, your car’ s value will vary, based upon the condition of your car.

Another way to find merit of your car is to visit websites that offer car valuation tools. With these tools, you can get your estimated trade-in or sale value.

For the most precise pricing, you can enter your car’s year, make and model. Then type in the car’s trim as well as location.

steps to selling a car privately

Repairing a car before selling it

Many times, vehicle sellers think that they need to fix any and everything on and with their car, before selling it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You don’t have to spend any money to fix any mechanical defects before you sell you car.

You should certainly be honest about your car’s mechanical issues and shortcomings. But getting everything fixed before you sell it, is not a mandate.

If you want to give buyers a good estimate of repairs, you can do such. You as an honest and trustworthy seller need to disclose any issues your car is having. And don’t think that just because you do, your vehicle won’t sell.

Lots of people have hobbies and make livings rebuilding cars. Just because a car needs a little TLC, doesn’t mean it won’t make you any M-O-N-E-Y!

Not having a pricing plan

Before setting a price for your car, you need to ask some questions. Those include:

  • Do I need to sell quickly?
  • Can I get a higher price by waiting on several offers?
  • What happens if I don’t sell my car fast?
  • When it comes to price, how low am I willing to go?
  • What is the lowest price I’m willing to take?

Not having a pricing strategy as a pricing strategy will make selling your car a stressful experience. You won’t know what to you and could potentially miss out on potentially getting some great offers. Develop a plan and a time frame in which you answer those questions as well as figure out what you will do as a car seller. You may need to adjust your price or reword an ad. Be patient with yourself and the process and adjust accordingly.

Not having all of the paperwork

Once you decide to sell your car, you need to make sure that you have all of the paperwork you need for that car. Do you have the car title?  Are you able to give the buyer a vehicle history report? Not offering your buyer bill of sale for selling a car privately may not fly in your state. So, check if you have to supply that.

When selling a car privately, paperwork is vital and necessary. So, a car seller who has all that he or she needs for the local titling or DMV offices as well as for the buyer makes a fast sale!

Not reading and signing the contract thoroughly

An important part of any car sale is going over the paperwork and the contract for selling a car privately. Please make sure that you are not in a “rush rush” or hurried frame of mind, selling your car. You want to take your time when it comes to not only signing sales documents, but reading them.

You should make sure that they accurately reflect the deal you’ve agreed upon. Additionally, you want to make sure that your name is spelled correctly where it appears and that all information is correct.

Never sign paperwork with errors or mistakes on it. Even if the other person or party promises to fix them, before documents are filed, never sign anything that has flaws.
Instead, wait for the paperwork to be corrected and then sign what needs to be signed.