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AloraCrimson's avatar

How do I sell my first car?

Asked by AloraCrimson (498points) July 12th, 2017

Hi everyone

I hope everyone is doing great and having a great start to their week.

My question is : How do I sell my car ?

Please excuse if this is a dumb question. It’s my very first car and I’ve never sold one before… What are some things that I need to sell it ?

Where is a good place to advertise and sell it ?

I was thinking Craigslist since that’s where I bought it from?

What are the steps or process in selling a car ?

This is the first time I’m selling a car and I have no idea how to go about it so thought I’d ask here first…

I’m looking to sell my car in about a month

Thank you everyone

Any and all tips help

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8 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s not too hard but it’s not like selling a bicycle. You’ll need the title and once you are paid you will have to sign it over to the new owner. If you have it it’s easy if not here is where it gets a bit complicated. If you lost the title you will have to request a new one, usually from the dmv. This takes time so do it before you sell. If you owe money there will be a lein and the lender has it. Either pay it off by getting a 2nd loan or arrange for the buyer to accompany you to the bank when you pay off the loan. Arrange this waay ahead of time every bank handles this differently and the buyer will want the title upon payment. Sometimes even if you have the title some banks don’t release the lein and the buyer will not be able to register it until they do. Check ahead of time to make sure it is done. Also don’t forget to take your license plate off, cancel your insurance and remove your stuff.

AloraCrimson's avatar


Okay thanks so much, I have the title of it with me.

The car is already paid off

When should I cancel my car insurance… ?

zenvelo's avatar

Get it ready by getting it as clean as possible. Get everything out of the car except the owners manual, the registration and the maintenance records.

Check the Kelly Blue Book, and be honest in assessing the condition of your car. Then find a fair price.

How is the car running? You know all its quirks, Be honest about little things but stay firm on your price.

I don’t know where you live, but call your local police station and ask if they have “safe spots” for selling things. Buying and selling things on craigslist is efficient, but people also use it to rip people off.

Don’t cancel your insurance until the change in title clears the DMV. The DMV also has a form you can file that notifies them that you have sold the car – Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability.

Good luck! BTW, what kind of car is it?

CWOTUS's avatar

When you have the clear title, as you noted, then things are simpler. There’s no lien to be satisfied, and you can make a clean transfer.

Your state DMV should explain the process – in sometimes excruciating detail – but it’s usually pretty straightforward. It’s worthwhile checking with your state rules, because they all have different rules. (Trust me on this; I’ve bought and sold cars in several states, and the rules always vary from one to another.)

In general, however, when you have the title, you’ll notice that there should be a “transfer of ownership” section on the back. You and the seller will fill that out and you’ll sign the vehicle (and title) over to the new owner. He’ll take that paperwork – including the car registration, which you may also have to sign over, or perhaps just “give to” the new owner as part of the transfer – to get a new title in his name only, and to register the vehicle.

In some states he will also have to pay a tax based on the value of the transfer, so some buyers may (illegally) request that you note a lower sales price on the title, because it will reduce their tax. I’ll leave that between you and your conscience; just remember that the title is a legal document, and falsifying legal documents generally carries a penalty, if that’s discovered. (That particular infraction is seldom discovered, but still…)

Talk to your insurer about cancellation.

If you’re going to buy a new car, then you may not want to cancel, just transfer, and as long as they’re aware of the transfer then it’s generally no problem (or extra cost) to cover both vehicles for the short time until the transfer to new ownership is complete. And I generally recommend that you do that, just in case the transfer falls through at some point where you thought, for example, that the buyer had given you a good check, but it bounced, or some other defect in the transaction keeps the vehicle in your hands… even if the “new owner” is driving it. You don’t want to be uncovered if you still have any interest in the vehicle. Again, the risks are generally small, but…

@zenvelo‘s point about “safe spaces” is good, too. In the olden days we didn’t worry too much about having folks come by the house to look at the vehicle in our own driveway. After all, the person viewing the car was more than likely from our town anyway, and had seen the car advertised in the local newspaper, or with a sign pasted on it in our own front yard. These days things have changed. It’s a good idea to have the vehicle shown and transacted in a public, safe place away from your home, unless you know the buyer personally.

Also, as part of the transaction process, and depending on the value of the vehicle, it’s a tossup whether check or cash is safer. I’ve never been burned by accepting a check when I can verify the person’s ID from a valid driver’s license, but that can be iffy… and accepting cash carries its own risk, because of the prevalence of good-quality counterfeit bills and because having a lot of cash on your person is always somewhat risky.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

In my state the title transfer needs to be “Notarized” and insurance must be in effect at time of sale and transfer (current insurance card must be provided).

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

That’s true for some states, I had to do that when buying a used motorcycle.

PullMyFinger's avatar

A whole bunch of good advice above, but there is no reason to ever accept a buyer’s personal check, then hold your breath until it clears. I’ve always requested a certified (‘Cashier’s’) bank check, and no honest buyer should have difficulty understanding and bringing that to the final transaction.

Not sure if ‘AutoTrader’ is available where you are, but we’ve always had very good results when advertising through them. They will send someone to your home to photograph your vehicle, then publish it (along with text written by you) on both their online site and a little paper magazine, which they place in many convenience stores.

When I posted my wife’s Honda Accord on their site, our phone rang within 15 minutes. The caller lived 45 minutes away, and ended up buying the car on the following day.

Anyway, best wishes, and good luck…..

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