How to Sell a Used Car

The first thing to understand is when, as a matter of fact, you need to sell. There are, of course, objective and subjective factors, the priority of which should preferably be given to the former.

The main signal for sale - the car starts to "fall apart" or is restored after a serious accident. In the vast majority of cases, the car is sold exactly due to these reasons. If your runs for service became more frequent up to unacceptable values, it means it is time to part.

It is easy to determine: annual repair expenses divided by 12 months must be at least twice lower than the monthly payment on a credit for a new car of the same class as yours. That is when once a month paying interest to the bank is more profitable and comfortable than rushing through service stations looking for cheaper parts.

The second selling factor is a sudden increase in income or wealth. An inheritance or a new high-paid job is also an objective factor for car changing, even if its technical condition is satisfactory for you. The fact is that new cars get more expensive every year, and yours gets cheaper every year, so the price gap will only grow with time. So if you have the financial possibility to change your car for a new one today is much more profitable than tomorrow.

But the subjective factor of sale, when the car is simply boring, most likely, will not lead to anything good. Chances are you will either give someone a decent car and buy a bad one or rack up credit debts that will aggravate your financial situation. Remember that secondary market prices take much longer to rise than primary market prices. Let's talk about how to sell a car in the US.

Dealer Trade-In

The trade-in scheme is very simple: a client comes to a dealer with his used car, which undergoes thorough diagnostics in a few hours, signs a contract and if everything suits him, he gets a new car with a discount equal to the price of the old car.

A big plus in trade-in is that it is really convenient. A car owner does not need to bother with his old car: to prepare it for sale, investing money in repair, run announcements on the internet, communicate with the most different, sometimes very unpleasant potential buyers and spend time on car presentation, which implies the same monotonous dialogues with "silly" questions. Hence the risks of getting caught by swindlers, whose task is to leave the seller without money and without goods are minimized.

But that's about it. The first and most obvious of them is the loss of money. That dealers underestimate the price of an old car - in some cases the price tag is cut by 30% - is a known fact. But not many people think that a discount for a new car, which auto salons promise, really is not present. All this, as it was said before, is dust in the eyes of the gullible consumer. However, this is not the case if you use a proven and professional dealer, such as Rolls auto sales.

Instant Cash Offer

The Instant Cash Offer is a real offer to buy the consumer’s car for a certain amount or use that amount to buy another car. 

The Instant Cash Offer is based on the condition of the car and its market value. The dealer then invites the vendor in for a professional appraisal and the consumer can drive away with a cheque or a new car on the same day.

Selling It Yourself

If the car owner has decided to sell car privately, it's worth thinking about resale preparation. The idea behind the pre-sale preparation is to spend less money than the added value the car will create! A full paint job, for example, never pays for itself when the car is sold, but a polish job almost always does. Refinishing the salon will not add in the price as much, as this work costs, but dry-cleaning is very probable. Well, engine overhaul will not add in the price as much as thick oil... the idea is to get a maximum impression of a buyer with a minimum investment of money. Appearance is crucial when selling a car.

Get Your Car Ready to Sell

Consider a set of actions, some of which are mandatory to show a potential buyer, some of which are optional and depend on your willingness to invest money in the car being sold.

  • Car wash - obligatory, it's just impolite to show a dirty car.
  • Polishing the car body is desirable because the procedure is inexpensive, but after its performance, the lacquer coating shines as if the car just came off the conveyor.
  • Touch up chips and scratches - you may either do it yourself or call in a specialist. The second option is better because independent painting will not look perfect, whereas professional colorists may choose the color and paint the part following the technology, but the job is rather expensive, depending on the details and complexity.
  • Minor bodywork - if there are cracks in the bumper, dents in the bodywork, or anything else that needs more than just stripping and painting, this is left to your discretion. You can either reduce the price or fix the damage before selling the vehicle, but that is a major cost involved.

Negotiate a Price

Price - the most controversial factor in the sale, because it is the price that will determine how to sell a used car. The first thing to remember is that your car is not the best and you are not the most caring owner. There will always be someone with lower mileage, oil changed twice as often, body wrapped in film, and so on.

The success of the sale may be affected:

  • The presence of unusual elements on the bodywork, such as original stickers. While experienced car owners don't need such "ponces", for women or novice drivers, this aspect may be important.
  • No difference in shade. If a discrepancy in the color palette is detected, it is advisable to hide the problem area. This can be done simply by selecting the right shade and treating the surface.
  • Optimal gaps. When preparing the bodywork, it is important to walk around the vehicle and assess the gaps. It is important that they are identical. If there are discrepancies, it is advisable to have the car checked by a specialist workshop.
  • Intact headlamps. The presence of damaged light sources will definitely discourage the buyer. If the headlamps are damaged, it is better to replace them. The same requirements apply to the body of the car.
  • If you carefully pay attention to the pre-sale preparation of the body, you may considerably increase the price of the car.

The second factor is any car improvement such as cool alloy wheels or a leather-covered interior you made for yourself only. Your buyer doesn't need it all, and that's why it doesn't influence the price - only factory modifications, mileage, and condition play a role. To sell more expensive tuning accessories, you'll have to wait for a person who is ready to pay for them. Sometimes that can take months. And such a trick as full-body airbrushing will most likely leave the car with you forever, or it will have to be repainted.

However, this all applies to those used car sellers who decide to sell on their own. If you sell my car to a dealership, the price will be set, on the basis of a provisional estimate, of the car.


To briefly summarize:

  1. You should only sell your car if you are sure that the new car is guaranteed to be much better than the existing one. Otherwise, there is a big chance of exchanging a piece of shit for a piece of soap.
  2. Do not be greedy. Sell the car for as much as they will buy it for, not as much as you initially want it for.
  3. You must have some advantage that differentiates your car from everyone else, otherwise, you have to lower the price.
  4. In most cases, you can only sell the car profitably yourself. Fast - usually only through an intermediary.
  5. If you opt for an intermediary, selling a good car through a dealer and a problem car through an intermediary is better.

Frequently Asked Questions about how to sell a car in the US

What is the best way to sell car privately?

If you want to sell your car for the best price, you will need a lot of effort and time. Usually, all the intermediaries and car dealers offering an urgent buyout reduce the price by 20-30% of the average market price.

What paperwork is required when selling a car privately?

Both parties must fill out and sign a bill of sale that includes the vehicle identification number (VIN), the agreed purchase price, the odometer reading, and the name/address of the buyer and seller.

What is the fastest way to sell your car?

  1. Sell to yourself at a discounted price. 
  2. Sell privately to a friend.
  3. Sell it to a dealership.

What should I be careful of when selling a car?

  •  Place and date of the transaction.
  • Parties to the transaction. 
  • The warranty period. 
  • Flaws in the car. 
  • Actual mileage.
  • Liability of parties.
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