In the sections below, we’ll take you through the eight-step process of selling your vehicle.
#1 Gather Documents
When you start the process for selling your car, you’ll need to gather all of your vehicle information in one place. Organize documents that include the following:
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- License plate number
- Make, model and year of vehicle
- Accident history
- Vehicle title
- Vehicle registration
#2 Learn How Much Your Car Is Worth
Use car value guides like Kelley Blue Book, J.D. Power and Edmunds to estimate your car’s value. Many of these guides have easy online tools to help you figure out how much your car is worth. You can choose to find the trade-in value or the private seller value depending on how you want to sell your vehicle.
#3 Prepare Your Car for Sale
If you’ll be selling your car online, take detailed, well-lit photos. If you’re trading your vehicle in, you may not need to take photos. Either way, it’s a good idea to wash your car and vacuum the interior before putting it up for sale.
#4 Decide How You Want To Sell Your Car
There are three main ways to sell your car: list it for a private sale, sell it to an online dealer or sell it to a local dealership. Each method has its advantages, but they differ based on your needs.
#5 List Your Vehicle for Sale
If you’re selling to a local dealership, this step won’t apply to you. If you’re selling your car to a private buyer, you’ll need to create a post on an online marketplace like Craigslist. To sell to an online dealership like Carvana, you’ll need to provide a few details about the vehicle, such as the odometer reading.
#6 Work With the Buyer
This can be the lengthiest part of the process. If you’re selling privately, you’ll likely need to set up times for potential buyers to inspect the car and take it for test-drives.
Similarly, you’ll have to make a pickup or in-person appointment to sell to an online dealership. When selling to a local brick-and-mortar dealership, you’ll need to bring the car in. You may not have a lot of wiggle room to negotiate a trade-in or sale with a traditional dealer.
The transaction is complete when you sign the car’s title over to the new owner. Not all states require a bill of sale, but it’s best to have one either way.
#7 Get Paid for Your Vehicle
Online and local dealerships usually send payment within a few days. Getting paid from a private buyer may require going to a bank branch. If you haven’t paid your auto loan off or the buyer is using a private-party auto loan, the process can be a little more complicated. If your sale price is less than what you owe on your loan, you’ll have to pay your lender the difference to get the title signed over to the new owner.
#8 Complete the Paperwork
Once the car is in the new owner’s possession, you’ll have to complete paperwork acknowledging the sale. In some states, like California for instance, you’ll also need to complete a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability. This document, also known as a Notice of Release of Liability, lets your state’s department of motor vehicles know you’re no longer responsible for the car.
Most dealerships, both online and traditional, will complete much of this for you. If you sell to a private buyer, you’ll need to complete this step on your own.