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Even if it’s not worth all that much, you can get back a small piece of the investment you made into the vehicle. But how do you sell a car privately? It sounds easy, yet there are a bunch of steps to take that ensure the transaction goes smoothly. Most of all, it’s important that you protect yourself when you’re selling a car privately for cash. The process of selling a car, including the paperwork for selling a car, can be tricky and you have to protect yourself, even if you just want to get rid of a car quick.

How to Sell a Car Privately for the Most Money

You need to know what to do when selling a car. Lucky for you, here are some steps to selling a car that make the process a little less troublesome and help you get the most cash for your car.

Keep Track of Your Service Records

Keep Car Service RecordsWant to get the most money whether you’re selling a car as is or certified? There’s one thing that does more than you can imagine, and that’s providing the car’s service records. You should always keep your car’s service records in a folder so you can show the future owner how well you’ve taken care of your car.

When a prospective buyer can read your service records, they know they’re looking at a reliable car. It takes the guesswork out of their purchase and you’ll be able to command a higher price.

Even better, print out a current CarFax report for your car. Then the private car buyer can see the vehicle history as well including any accidents (or lack thereof). Fewer potential surprises will help you get the most money.

Keep It Clean

Two cars are exactly the same in every way, even the mileage. One is dirty and one is spotless. Which one would you pay a little more for? Obviously, the clean one.

All it takes is a car wash and a vacuum, and maybe wiping down the interior. If there are stains on the seats and carpets, think about getting the car professionally detailed before you list it for sale. A clean car is going to be worth more to potential buyers.

Spread the Word

One teeny little car ad in one place isn’t going to get much interest. Get your car noticed in as many ways as you can. Private car sales don’t have a massive advertising budget, but you can still list your car on car selling websites, Craigslist, and Facebook community pages to drum up buyers.

Be Reasonable

Do you know what your car is worth? If you’re selling a car privately for cash, you should know your bottom line for an offer. Visit and determine your car’s Fair Market Value. Then, set your hard and fast bottom line: your magic number.

If someone offers you your magic number, pull the trigger. Sell it. Get it done, because who knows how long it will be until the next offer comes along, and if it’s going to be as good.

What Paperwork Do I Need to Selling a Car to a Private Party?

Be ready to sell your car. Private party car sales mean that you need to do all your own paperwork. What are the documents to sell a car required?

The criteria may be slightly different in your state, but it’s going to be close to the sale. You’ll need:

  • Your car’s title, free of any liens. If you owe money on your car, you’ll need to make arrangements with your lender before they’ll release the title to you.

  • A bill of sale. Check for your state’s requirements for the bill of sale. Regardless where you live, it must have the car’s year, make, model, mileage, and VIN number. It should also have the buyer’s and seller’s information.


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Know the Dangers of Private Car Selling

Odds are that you aren’t selling your car to someone you know. When people respond to your car ad, how do you know if they’re a priest of a mass murderer? There’s no way to tell over the phone or by email.

Don’t panic. Most people won’t rip you off. But you still need to take precautions of how to protect yourself when selling a car privately.

Tips for the Safe Way to Sell a Car 

Ask Questions of Callers

Someone’s called about your car ad? Don’t automatically set a time to view it or make the purchase. Perform a mini-interview for the prospective buyer without their knowledge by asking questions.

Ask things that give insight like how soon they’re ready to buy, if they live in the same state or city, or if they have any questions about the car. Just extending the phone or email conversation can help you make sure they’re serious about your car and can give hints if they’re good people.

Accompany the Test Drive

You can never be sure someone is on the up and up. When you meet them for the test drive, meet at a mutually-agreeable location like a mall parking lot or coffee shop. There’s usually cameras for security plus witnesses all around, reducing the odds of being swindled, assaulted, or otherwise taken advantage of.

If and when the test drive happens, always ask to see their driver’s license first. It’s still your car and you’re responsible for it until the deal is done.

Then, go along for the test drive. Don’t assume they’ll just go around the block and come back, no matter how honest they look. Being with them for the test drive makes sure they won’t drive off into the sunset with your car.

Cash for Car Sale

Be Cautious About the Transaction

Selling a car privately for cash is great. Make sure you count it and look at each bill. But you won’t always be offered a cash sale. If it’s a check, only accept a certified check or money order so you can be guaranteed the funds are there.

Don’t complete the paperwork before you’ve been paid either. If you sign the title over before a check is in hand, they’re legally the owner and there’s not much you can do about it – other than trust they’ll pay you.

When you’re completing the bill of sale and title information, reduce your risk by limiting the information the buyer can see. Leave out personal details and addresses if at all possible. It’s just extra protection for you.

Cross Your T’s

Have you covered all your bases when you’re selling your car? Make sure all the details are correct on the bill of sale and title – it’s hard to change afterward.

  • Check that the VIN number is written correctly.

  • Write a receipt for payment received.

  • Check the payment is addressed properly to you.

  • Only cancel your registration and insurance after the deal is fully done.

Best Way to Sell Your Car

The Best Way to Sell a Car Privately

If it seems like a pain to sell your car privately, that’s because it usually is. If you want a better, hassle-free, safe way to sell your car for cash, look at Damaged Cars.

It’s easy and safe to use Damaged Cars. Just request a guaranteed offer for your vehicle online and you’ll receive a quote, usually in 90 seconds or less. If it looks good to you, all you have to do is accept the quote. Damaged Cars will pick up your vehicle from you and put a check in your hand for the agreed-upon amount, simple as that.

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