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10 Tips for Selling a Used Car Online

More Tips for Selling a Used Car Online

A father washing a car with his daughter.
You'd better get your car in tip-top shape to really woo potential customers.

7: Clean Up Your Act

You take a shower before you go on a date because you want to make a good impression (and because your natural musk is somewhat off-putting). Ditto for selling your car. Before you list it, clean your car out. Buyers have a hard time seeing a beautiful interior if it's buried under a lifetime of Wendy's receipts. Throw out the trash and personal items, vacuum the carpet and throw in some air freshener. Make sure you also get the outside clean. Wash and wax the car, and give the wheels some extra cleaning love. You know your car is more than just a pretty face, but no one wants to buy ugly and stinky. A clean car is plain easier to sell.

6: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – and Dollars

The downside of shopping for something online is that you can't see it. Online used car listings with lots of pictures let buyers see exactly what they're getting. After you get your car all cleaned up, take some pictures of it.


When it comes to taking pictures for a used car listing, be thorough. Don't just take a few shots of the exterior. Show pictures of details like headlights and tires so buyers can see the wear and tear on them. Take lots of interior shots, including pictures of things like the dashboard and radio. Show the backseat and cargo area, as well, so buyers can see if your car has room for all their passengers and stuff. When taking pictures of the interior, make sure the car is on. This allows buyers to see that you don't have any warning lights or indicators, a sign your car is in good condition. Don't forget to take a few shots of what's under the hood, as well.

5: Write it Up

One of the hardest parts about selling a car online is actually writing the ad. We've all seen hilarious Craigslist used car ads, but don't feel like you need to be Shakespeare to sell your car. Just make sure you cover the basics. Try to anticipate any questions a car buyer might have about your car, and answer them in the listing. At the very least, your ad should include:

  • The year, make and model of the car
  • How many miles it has
  • What kind of gas mileage it gets
  • Whether you have the maintenance records or not
  • The price you're asking for it
  • Any known repair or maintenance issues
  • How to contact you (email or cell phone is probably best, for safety's sake)

4: Have Your Paperwork in Order

Once you list your car online (with plenty of pictures!) potential buyers will start to contact you. Before you can go through with selling the car, however, you'll need to have all your paperwork in order. You'll need the car's title to prove that you're legally able to sell the car. You'll also need a bill of sale for the buyer, so they can prove that they've bought it from you (the bill of sale also proves to your state and insurance company that you no longer own the car). Your car registration also needs to be up-to-date. If you have questions about the paperwork you need to sell your car, contact your state's motor vehicle department and get the answers you need before you have a buyer standing in front of you.