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6 Tips for Selling a Car on Craigslist (2019 Update)


6 Tips for Selling a Car on Craigslist (2019 Update)

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Selling your car on Craigslist is a great way to make fast money, provided you sell it using the following valuable tips. Cars generally sell pretty quickly on Craigslist when they’re listed properly, in my experience. Getting top dollar for your car and selling it quickly is all about prepping your vehicle well and marketing it well.

It’s also important for your own safety and peace of mind that you’re aware of the legal rules pertaining to your state when selling a vehicle and that you have a plan for selling your car safely.

6 Tips for Selling a Car on Craigslist

Read the tips below for selling a car on Craigslist in a way that will maximize your profit and minimize your hassle.

1. Prep Your Vehicle

We recently bought a vehicle off of Craigslist. We had certain parameters that we had set in place – most shoppers do – as we went about our shopping. We had totaled our vehicle in an accident and wanted to replace it with a similar model.

We wanted to spend only what we had gotten from the insurance company so that we could be sure to pay cash for our car and not have to take out an auto loan. We had $9,000 to spend and we wanted to spend it wisely.

For us, this meant buying a replacement vehicle that was in as good as shape as possible for the money we had to spend.

When selling stuff on Craigslist – especially a car – you want to make the item look as attractive as possible to potential buyers. Before listing your vehicle, be sure to wash the outside of the car and thoroughly clean the inside of the car. This doesn’t mean that you have to take it to the detailing center (although if you’re feeling lazy, one can usually find some great detailing packages on Groupon or LivingSocial).

The inside of our vehicles stay clean because we vacuum them thoroughly, spot clean any stains with a rag and a bucket of slightly soapy water and wash the inside windows and dash with Windex or Armor All and some paper towels.

It really isn’t that difficult, and it makes a huge difference to potential buyers.

2. Take Great Pictures

Take your pictures on an overcast day if possible for the best lighting, preferably with an actual camera versus a cell phone. Include pics of all sides of the outside of the vehicle and several interior shots.

Be sure to include a picture of the odometer so that you can prove you are being honest about the mileage. Make sure your pictures show any bonus features too, such as a DVD player or navigation system. Show pictures of the tires and take an under-the-hood shot.

The more thorough you are with your pictures, and the more care you take to post quality pictures, the better luck you’ll have selling the car.

3. Be Thorough and Honest in Your Listing

I can’t believe how many listings we looked through that said stuff like this:

2005 Suburban. Good runner. $10,000

9 times out of 10 we just passed right by those listings. Why? Because in our opinion, if a seller wasn’t going to take the time to thoroughly describe the vehicle, he or she probably didn’t take the time to care well for the vehicle.

That may be a wrong assumption, but it’s what we assumed, and I’m sure it’s what others assume too.

When writing the text for your listing, include things like:

  • Engine size
  • Car mileage
  • All bonus features such as heated seats, etc.
  • Maintenance and care history
  • Condition of the tires, etc.
  • Non-smoking vehicle if you didn’t smoke
  • Any recent work done to the car (i.e., new tires, brakes, etc.)
  • Any other info that might be appealing to a potential buyer, such as “all highway miles” or “maintained meticulously”

The more clear you are about the vehicle’s description, the better chance you have of people coming to see your vehicle. Also, be honest about the vehicle’s condition. We looked at several vehicles that listed “in excellent condition” that were far from it. It’s a waste of time for everyone if you overplay the vehicle’s condition.

4. Be Smart and Be Objective About the Price

Many times people overprice their vehicles because they’re not being objective about the value of the vehicle.  Search other listings for vehicles similar to yours, and check the Kelley Blue Book value before determining a price. We looked at one truck that was priced a good $2,000 over its blue book value. When we asked the seller about this, he said, “I don’t go by Blue Book – I just price base on what other people are pricing their trucks at.”

The thing about it was, though, that his truck was in much worse shape that many of the other trucks in that price range. We walked away, and when we checked a week later, the truck was still up for sale.  You’ve got a much better chance of selling your car quickly if you’re asking a fair price.

People always want to get a good deal so be prepared to negotiate on the price too. If you’re not willing to negotiate, put “FIRM” after stating the price in your add. Again, this will save lots of time as you won’t waste your time with those looking to talk a seller down on their price.

5. Know the Legal Requirements

It’s important to know the legal requirements for buying and selling cars in your state before you sell a car on Craigslist. The website will have all the information you need about buying and selling a car in your state, and it will contain links to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles as well.

6. Understand Title Status and Rules

It’s best to try and sell cars with a clean title, but if you’re selling a car that has a loan on it, you’ll want to make sure to set up the closing deal during banking hours in order to get a lien release card from the bank.

Also, some states require that a vehicle that’s sold has the title signed in front of a notary public. If this is the case with your state, again, you’ll need to conduct your transaction during business hours.

Other things you’ll want to consider as you sell your car on Craigslist:

  • If the buyer wants you to hold the car because it’s after banking hours, get a cash deposit to hold it and give them a receipt for the deposit. Otherwise, if you don’t want to deal with holds, just list the car as “cash only, no holds”
  • Meet in a highly visible public place or at your home where there are plenty of other people around for security purposes
  • Don’t go for a test drive with the potential buyer. As mom’s old advice goes, never get into a car with a stranger. Stolen cars can be replaced.
  • Don’t take a personal check unless you know the person well. Get a cashier’s check or take cash only


If you have a car to be sold on Craigslist, optimize your listing using the above tips so that you can get a fair price for your car and selling it quickly. If it’s not selling after a couple of weeks, you might want to re-visit your price or fix any other issues that may be preventing the car from selling.

Have you ever bought or sold a car on Craigslist? What are your tips for buying or selling?

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