There are plenty of different ways to sell your car nowadays, but the process can be confusing and stressful if you aren’t given the tools to succeed. By selling your car online, you automatically remove the hassle that in-person sales carry. There is no need to travel and add extra mileage to the car to get it appraised, and you have access to thousands of buyers across the country in just a few clicks. For those who are first-time sellers, or who have gone through a rough selling experience in the past, we have the perfect guide for you. Below you’ll find the 7 steps you must follow to execute a successful online car sale. Sticking to these steps will create a much simpler selling process for you and your buyer, leading to a quicker, more profitable sale.
7 Essential Tips for a Successful Online Car Sale
There are 7 steps you should keep in mind when selling your car online: choosing the right platform, pricing the car competitively, offering details photos and information, being honest about the car’s condition, responding quickly to inquiries, following safety tips, and finishing up the sale properly. By taking each of these tips into consideration, you’ll find selling your car online to be one of the easiest transactions you’ll ever make.
Choose the right platform
It is incredibly important to sell your car on a platform that fits your needs the best. First, consider your car and the type of buyer who would be interested in it. Junk or low-value vehicles will attract buyers who would like to recycle or use the car for parts, so you may fare better working with a cash for cars service or a junkyard. A rare vehicle may perform well on platforms like eBay, where potential buyers can submit live bids for the car. Sellers who would prefer to find a local buyer can list the vehicle on Facebook Marketplace, where you can check out the profiles of local interested buyers in your community.
No matter what platform you choose, always use a marketplace that does not charge you a fee for listing. There are many websites to sell your car with that are totally free, and you have access to just as many buyers with free sites as you would with paid sites.
Price your car competitively
Doing a bit of market research before listing your car will help you determine a price that attracts competing offers and many interested buyers. Buyers tend to do research themselves – they know exactly how much the vehicle they want goes for on the market and it is not easy to trick them. Consider the market value of your car and the current condition of it. Is there any significant damage? Have you featured any specific upgrades that increase the value? Record these details so you can include them all in your listing.
While you want to list your car for an attractive price, it is important not to undervalue your car. There are many buyers out there who will purchase your car for what it is worth. An undervalued vehicle will only adversely affect your pockets, and you may end up pushing buyers away. A vehicle that is too cheap will seem suspicious to buyers, and they will be hesitant to reach out.
Provide details information and photos
A detailed listing full of multiple, clear photos of the vehicle’s interior and exterior will lead to a successful, hassle-free car sale. Providing this information to prospective buyers from the beginning leads to a quick sale, since the buyer will feel confident having so much information at their disposal. A detailed listing creates trust between the buyer and seller because it proves organization and legitimacy.
The description of your vehicle should include the basic information: make, model, year, mileage, and condition. It is also helpful to include a brief description of the vehicle's history, which includes previous owners and mechanical work. The pictures of your car should be plentiful and include different angles of the interior and exterior. Take these photos during the day and in a location that is free of clutter when possible.
Be honest about the car’s condition
There is no good reason to lie about the condition of your car. It is not helpful to do so and can damage your reputation as a seller. Intentionally misleading a buyer is illegal. The best and most profitable decision you can make is to be totally transparent about the condition of your car. Do not wait for a buyer to ask you about specific damage – outline these details in the description of your listing.
Respond to inquiries promptly
Inquiries should be responded to within 24 hours or less. A buyer’s interest can wane pretty quickly, especially when searching for a car online. It is common to have a buyer interested in your car one day, only for them to find a better deal the next. Keep an eye on your inbox or notifications for the selling platform and answer any concerns thoroughly. The vehicle should be in an easy-to-access place so you can take additional pictures if requested.
The internet is vast and accessible to everybody, which comes with its fair share of risks. Scammers routinely pose as interested buyers online, trying to siphon vital information for car sellers. Do not offer bank account information, passwords to your listing platform, or any other personal information that can lead to fraud.
Payment method scams are common amongst fraudsters. The safest payment method to accept for your car is cash. When cash is not available you can accept a cashier’s check, but you should accompany the buyer to the bank when possible to ensure the transaction is legit. Buyers who only want to pay with a wire transfer or money order should be avoided, as those are often payment methods that fraudsters use.
Complete the sale properly
Once you have found your buyer and accepted their offer, it is time to complete the sale. This includes coordinating a day for vehicle pickup and payment. Ideally, the buyer will come to you to pick up and remove the vehicle. Buyers who are unable to do so should communicate this to you before you accept the offer so you can consider the transportation methods and costs. The best buyer will pick up and remove your car for free.
Once the transportation details are ironed out and the day of vehicle transfer arrives, make sure there are no personal items left in the car. Remove license plates and either recycle them or dispose of them at a drop-off recycling box at your local DMV. On the day of vehicle transfer, do a final inspection with your buyer as a confirmation that everything is in order. Accept your payment before the vehicle leaves your premises.
What should I do if a buyer wants to test drive my car?
Some buyers may want to perform a test drive before finalizing the sale. Whether this is okay is totally up to you. It is recommended that you go with your potential buyer for a test drive to make sure they do not steal or damage your car. Thoroughly check the identity of the buyer before allowing them to drive the vehicle. The best way to do this is by asking for a photocopy of their driver’s license and checking to make sure it matches the physical license on their person.
How should I negotiate the price with a potential buyer?
Price negotiations are tricky sometimes, but the safest thing to do is gather multiple offers from different buyers to see if you have any breathing room for lowering the price. There are a lot of buyers who are willing to purchase your car at the listing price or for market value. Consider all offers and choose the one that works best with your needs and requirements.
When negotiating, do not accept a lowball offer, as there are plenty of ways to get a great price for your car. Think about the offer and produce a counteroffer. Buyers who aren’t willing to budge may not be the best to work with, and you should consider venturing out to different online marketplaces and selling services to find a buyer that is willing to pay a fair price.
What should I do if I suspect a scammer is contacting me about my car?
Those who suspect they are interacting with a scammer should cease all communication with the buyer and immediately report the activity to the platform they are using. Take screenshots of the interaction in case you suspect the scammer has acquired valuable information about you. Check your bank accounts and credit report routinely to see if there is any unusual activity.