Selling a Car on Craigslist: Tips & Tricks for a Quick Sale!

selling a car on craigslist

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Selling a car on Craigslist can be challenging, especially if you’re new to the process. But with the right approach and some expert tips, you can reach a broad audience than your local classifieds.

In this article, I’ll provide valuable tips and tricks to help you stand out and sell your car quickly on Craigslist.

Whether you’re selling an old clunker or a pristine sports car, I’ve got you covered.

Let’s begin!

9 Steps to Selling a Car on Craigslist

Putting up your automobile for sale on Craigslist is a convenient and cost-effective way to reach a broad audience of potential buyers.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to ensure a successful transaction and an instant cash offer.

1 – Gather the Necessary Paperwork to Sell Your Car.

The documents you need to gather may include legal paperwork like the car’s title, registration, and bill of sale.

The requirements for selling a used car can vary by state, so review your state’s regulations thoroughly.

You can check your local DMV for a comprehensive overview of your state’s requirements. Don’t hesitate to ask advice from experts if you’re unsure about any part of the process.

Compiling these documents upfront can save you a lot of hassle and ensure a smooth and successful sale.

Here are some of the other documents most states ask for:

Vehicle Title

When selling your used car, you need to have a vehicle title in your name with legal signatures from all previous owners as listed. You must transfer ownership before selling if the title isn’t in your name.

Doing this before selling vehicles on Craigslist can help prevent delays or issues with the buyer.

Damage Disclosure Statement

A damage disclosure statement keeps track of any past or current damage to your used vehicle. While it’s not mandatory in every state, having one for peace of mind for both the buyer and seller is a good idea.

Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is a legal document outlining the details of the sale between the buyer and seller. You can download a bill of sale form from DMV’s website and make copies for yourself, private sellers and the buyer.

Warranty Information

If your car still has a warranty, research the transfer process and make sure potential buyers know. Having one increases the value of your vehicle and attracts more private buyers.

It’s important to research before setting a sales price and listing your vehicle for sale.

Emissions Test Documentation

You need to include updated emissions test results if you’re selling a car in a state that requires regular emissions testing.

Check your state’s laws and regulations regarding emissions testing before selling your car.

Vehicle Service Records

Vehicle service records contain information about the maintenance and repairs done on the car, providing buyers with a history of the vehicle’s condition and any issues encountered.

Having the repair and maintenance records gives buyers more confidence in the car’s quality and can make it easier for them to make a decision.

2 – Clean and Repair Your Car.

Your car’s appearance can significantly impact the speed of the transaction. A clean and well-maintained car is more attractive to potential buyers than one that’s dirty or in disrepair.

You don’t have to get a full detailing, but vacuuming and washing the car before taking photos for your Craigslist ad will go a long way.

Here’s a car cleaning checklist to help you:

Clean the Exterior.

Wash the car thoroughly with soap and water, paying special attention to the wheels and rims. Remove any dirt or grim from the exterior, including windows and mirrors.

Clean the Interior.

Vacuum the car to remove dirt and debris from the floors and seats. Clean the dashboard, steering wheel, and other surfaces with a gentle cleaning solution.

Check the Fluids.

Check the oil, coolant, and brake fluid levels to make sure they’re at the proper levels. Add more as needed if any fluids are low.

Check the Brakes.

Test the brakes to see if they’re working properly. Have the mechanic check the brakes to see if the pedals feel soft or spongy.

Check the Tires.

Check the tire pressure and replace any damaged or worn tires.

Check the Lights.

Check if the headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals work properly.

Repair Any Damage or Replace Worn Parts (Optional).

Repair dents, scratches, or other damage or replace worn parts before and selling online.

3 – Know Your Car’s Market Value.

When you sell auto on Craigslist, setting the right price is crucial. You need to research and have marketing knowledge to make an informed decision. Luckily, there are reliable tools to help you with that.

One of the most popular and trustworthy resources for knowing a car’s market value is Kelley Blue Book (KBB).

KBB has a robust search engine that considers your vehicle’s mileage, features, and condition to calculate an estimated value range.

Here’s how you can use KBB to value your car:

1 – Go to the Kelley Blue Book.

2 – Click on the Car Values tab on the homepage.

Kelley Blue Book

3 – Select the My Car’s Value.

4 – Choose between VIN, Make/Model, and License Plate.

Know Your Car’s Market Value.

5 – Enter your car’s year, make/model, mileage, and condition.

6 – Select any additional options your car may have.

7 – Review the estimated value range KBB gives you.

8 – Consider factors like your car’s location, demand in your area, and any upgrades or modifications when setting your asking price.

Aside from KBB, check out They provide dealership list prices and allow you to see what car dealerships nationwide would charge for a particular vehicle.

Additionally, look at similar listings on Craigslist to help you arrive at a competitive price.

4 – Take Photos of Your Car.

Photos are essential to showcase your vehicle’s best features and attract potential buyers. It also increases your chances of selling your car quickly at a higher price.

Here are some tips for taking great photos:

Take Plenty of Pictures From Different Angles.

Take good pictures from various angles to give interested buyers a comprehensive view of your vehicle.

Include pictures of the back, front, and sides and interior shots, including the dashboard, seats, and other features you want to highlight.

Show Off the Condition.

Don’t try to hide any cosmetic faults or damages on the car. Be honest about its condition and showcase any defects, scratches, or dents.

Doing so will build trust and help buyers know exactly what they’re getting.

Use Good Lighting.

Lighting is essential when it comes to taking good photos. Take photos in bright, natural light or a well-lit area.

Avoid taking photos at night or in poorly lit spaces because this will make your photos look blurry or unappealing.

Choose the Right Background.

Avoid cluttered or busy backgrounds that can distract from your vehicle. A clean, simple background like a parking lot or garage works best.

5 – Write a Detailed Ad Description.

The product description is a crucial factor in attracting online car buyers. Here are some tips for writing an effective car description:

Be Accurate and Transparent.

Provide as much information as possible about your car’s make, model, odometer reading, and vehicle history report. Don’t leave out any important details, such as accidents, repairs, or other issues.

Being transparent and upfront will help you appear more trustworthy, and potential buyers will have fewer questions about the car.

Include Key Features.

Highlight the key of your car that makes it stand out from the rest, like a sunroof, leather car seats, or a navigation system.

These features can make your car more appealing to buyers, who may be willing to pay a higher price.

Use High-Quality Photos.

As mentioned, add clear, high-quality photos from multiple angles to show your car’s condition and features.

Be Clear About the Price.

Don’t beat around the bush when it comes to pricing. Be clear, and don’t leave room for negotiation if you’re firm on your price.

But if you are open to negotiation, state that in your description.

6 – Publish Your Ad.

Posting your car ad on Craigslist is the final step after all the preparation. Double-check all the required documents and photos before writing the ad.

After that, post and wait for buyers to contact you.

7– Schedule a Test Drive With Prospective Buyers.

It’s common for a prospective buyer to ask for a test drive before making a purchase.

To ensure your safety, arrange to meet them at a public location. Consider bringing a friend or informing someone about your whereabouts and expected return time.

Request to take a picture of their driver’s license and license plates, if applicable, before the drive. If they refuse, it’s best to decline the test drive.

During the test drive, sit in the passenger seat and let the potential buyer drive the car for 15 minutes. Return to the meeting spot after the drive.

8 – Be Ready to Negotiate Before Closing the Deal.

Most interested buyers may try to negotiate the price. It’s important to stay firm on your asking price and be willing to compromise to a certain extent.

However, if you can’t agree on a fair price for both parties, walking away is okay.

9 – Close the Deal.

The number one priority when closing a deal is your safety and the safety of your vehicle. While you may have already met with the buyer for a test drive, it’s still wise to finalize the transaction in a public location.

Choose a place convenient for both parties and meets safety standards, like being well-lit and in a well-trafficked area during the day.

Remember to only accept secure forms of payment.

If a buyer offers a check, finalize the transaction at the buyer’s bank branch or request a cashier’s check to ensure its legitimacy before handing over the keys to your car.

How to List a Car on Craigslist

1 – Go to the Craigslist website. It should automatically redirect you to your location; if not, you can manually change it on the location section on the right side of the screen.

Craigslist website

2 – Click on the Create a Posting button in the screen’s top left corner.

Create a Posting

3 – Craigslist may ask you to narrow down your exact location.

4 – Select the type of posting you want to make. Choose Craigslist sell car by owner and click on For Sale by Owner.

for sale by owner

5 – Choose the appropriate category for your posting, which would be cars and trucks – by owner.

cars and trucks – by owner

6 – Provide all the necessary details about your car, like the make, model, year, mileage, and condition.

7 – Set the selling price for your car and any other important details about the payment process.

8 – Before publishing your detailed Craigslist ad, preview your ad to ensure all details are accurate and the photos appear correctly.

9 – Publish the listing once you’re satisfied with your ad. Click the Publish button so your listing will be live on Craigslist.

10 – Monitor and manage your listing. Be responsive to inquiries from buyers and make adjustments as needed.

Selling Cars on Craigslist Tips: How to Sell a Car on Craigslist Safely

Here are some tips on how to safely sell a car on Craigslist:

  1. Don’t accept payment through a wire transfer or other electronic means, as these can be difficult to verify and may leave you vulnerable to fraud.

  2. Be wary of buyers asking for personal information or requesting to communicate outside Craigslist’s messaging system.

  3. Don’t share your home address or personal phone number until you’re ready to meet the buyer in person.

  4. Always meet buyers in a well-lit, public place, and consider bringing a friend or family member with you.

  5. Avoid sharing sensitive personal information with buyers, like your social security number or seller’s account information.

  6. Trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable at any point during the transaction.

  7. Stay alert during test drives and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let potential buyers distract you or take you on an unfamiliar route.

  8. If you’re showing your car at your home, park it in a secure location like a garage or behind a locked gate. This prevents theft or vandalism.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I Sell Used Car on Craigslist?

Yes. You can sell a used car or other used items on Craigslist. However, it’s important to take the necessary safety precautions and follow the tips mentioned above to ensure a safe and successful transaction.

Be sure to check the local laws and regulations in your area regarding selling used cars, like required car paperwork and disclosures.

How Much Are Craigslist Fees for Selling Cars?

Craigslist charges a small fee of $5 to advertise your motor vehicles, and your listing will stay active for a month. After 30 days, you can renew the listing for another month and pay another $5.

How to Sell Car on Craigslist for Free?

Listing a car Craigslist is not entirely free. They charge a $5 fee for listing a car for 30 days, but there are no additional fees for finalizing the sale.

If you want to sell a car on Craigslist for free, try negotiating with buyers to see if they would be willing to cover the listing fee.

You can also try advertising your car on Facebook marketplace or classified ads websites, which are often free to use.

But remember that Craigslist remains one of the most popular and effective online marketplaces for selling used cars, and the $5 fee is a small price to pay for the exposure and buyers you can reach.

The Bottom Line

Selling a car on Craigslist can be a great way to get a quick sale.

Start by gathering all the necessary information and additional paperwork about your car like a liability form, original sales paperwork, and bill of sale, taking high-quality photos, and writing a good ad.

Be prepared to negotiate with interested buyers and ensure your safety by meeting in a crowded location, bringing a friend, and verifying payment before handing over the keys.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to a successful sale on Craigslist!

Written by: Omar Deryan

Founder of OJ Digital Solutions

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