Selling Your Car On Craigslist

Craigslist

With the average age of the cars on the road in the United States at a record 11 years old, I hear regularly from people who want to get something newer, but need to maximize the amount they get for their old car.

Let’s face it, dealers will trade for anything in any condition, but they want to give you what your old car will bring at auction. Often I suggest to listeners to sell their car themselves. When it comes to selling a used car, especially cars under $5000, Craigslist is the king, and it’s free.

I offer tips on the air to people wanting to sell on Craigslist but realized I had never written about it. With no further ado, here are my suggestions.

First, safety. Evil lurks all around us, and there have been many crimes, including murder, associated with Craigslist. These instances are rare, but do happen. Never have interested parties come to your home. If the person seems genuine and genuinely interested in your car, meet them at a very public place like a Starbucks, or 7-11, someplace where there are a lot of people. They will probably want to drive the car, but do not accompany them. Instead, get their driver’s license, make sure the picture matches, and hold their license until they return. Request no more than a 10 minute test drive.

If you and the buyer come to terms, arrange for the exchange of money and title. This too should be done in a public place. Although there is a small risk of accepting certified funds, such as a cashier’s check or money order, do not take a personal check at all. The safest way is bank wire transfer. Make sure you sign the title in the appropriate places, record the mileage, and prepare in advance a bill of sale. You can find free templates on line. Be sure you have the buyer’s name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number, and hang onto it in case something happens later. These precautions should make for a safe transaction for you.

In advance of placing the ad, have any service records you have readily available. Buyers like to know a car has been maintained, so be ready. If there are mechanical or cosmetic flaws, spell those out in the listing. There is no need in surprising a buyer with problems after they have driven to see the car. With that said, be sure to point out the positives, like if it is a one owner car, or a non-smoker car, or if you know for sure it has never been in a wreck.

Make sure the car is clean and take a lot of photos. Although your listing may only allow you four pictures, have more available to email your prospective buyer. Pictures sell cars, plain and simple.

Choose the way you want to communicate with prospects. Either Email or phone works well, but I would start with email only. If your buyer is interested and you want to move to phone call, use your cell phone, not home phone. Search the Craiglist listing in your area for cars similar to yours and determine the pricing ranges. Do not be too high or low. If you price on the upper side of the market, include that you would entertain serious, reasonable offers.

These tips will work at other sites too, but in particular, I would use this information and follow it closely when listing on Craigslist. I can’t stress enough, safety first. Be smart, be aware, and trust your instincts when it comes to shady people.

Jerry Reynolds, The Car Pro

11 Comments
  1. Dean 5 years ago

    Wouldn’t it be better to drive to the tax office with the buyer and transfer the title and remove your license plates? With all the toll roads today I don’t want them driving around for months on toll roads and me getting the bill in the mail based on the cars license plates. Some buyers will not transfer the title for days or months. At least tell everyone to remove the plates, they belong to you, not the car.
    Dean

  2. Buck Bourne 5 years ago

    Good advice about selling the car, or buying used. I enjoy your show on WOAI San Antonio most Saturdays.
    How can I find out if a car has been wrecked?

    • Michele Sanders 5 years ago

      Thanks Buck, good to hear from you. I use http://www.autocheck.com, I find it to be the most reliable.

      THANKS for listening to the show.

      Jerry Reynolds “The Car Pro”
      President, Car Pro Radio Networks

  3. Donnie 3 years ago

    Where do I look to find a value for selling my car, is it Kelly Blue Book or what?

    • Michele Sanders 3 years ago

      Donnie, I talk often on the show about how inaccurate all the online services are. You can’t get a true value there. You should get a dealer or two to give you a cash offer, if you are in Houston or Austin, go to http://www.iqautobuyers.com. If not, CarMax is good at this. That’s the only way to know for sure.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  4. Jason 3 years ago

    Jerry, you say that Craigslist is ideal for sales under $5000. What about sales in the $8000 range? Should I try a service like autotrader.com or stay with Craigslist?

    • Michele Sanders 3 years ago

      I think AutoTrader is better for cars in that price range, you’ll get more qualified buyers, with less tire kickers. Good luck!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  5. Dave M 2 years ago

    Love your show I listen as often as I can wish I could here more when at work.

  6. larry davis 9 months ago

    Is craigslist good for selling classic cars or what site would you recommend.

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