The thought of parting ways with your beloved ride can be pretty daunting. It’s a fairly substantial life decision, seeing as how much money you might stand to make (depending on what condition your car is in). One of the next big hurdles is where to sell your car. You could go the easy route and trade it in at the dealer, but you won’t get the maximum amount of money there since the dealer has to flip your car and make a profit of its own. If you have a rare, unique or classic car, a site like Bring a Trailer or Hemmings might be the best place. But for the majority of cars out there, the most popular, accessible and user-friendly online outlet is Craigslist.
Which begs the question: how to sell your car on Craigslist, the go-to classified section of the internet. Because Craigslist is so popular and easy to use, the low bar for entry is both a blessing and a curse. Countless users simultaneously selling cars means there’s a vast sea of ads buyers need to sift through before landing on yours. And if you’ve ever spent more than five minutes on Craigslist, you know a lot of the ads out there are uninformative, unhelpful or just plain shady. When someone comes across your car, you want to stand out in the best way possible, and, luckily, that’s incredibly easy to do, if you follow a few simple steps.
Take extensive and exhaustive photos. An immediate red flag for any car shopper is a single-photo ad or no photos of the car at all. Lacking significant, clear pictures makes it look like you have something to hide. The trick to gaining that first, tiny bit of trust is to photograph as much as you can (Craigslist has a 12 image limit). Being honest and upfront will only help in the long run.
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• Know your surroundings
• Balancing the whole image is key
• Simple camera gear can make the difference
Details matter. Describe the hell out of your car. If the pictures are worth 1000 words, add 1000 more. Just as your photos should hide nothing, in-depth details about the car — its basic history, any mechanical problems or accidents — are monumentally helpful. You can never be too extensive.
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“Make sure you have documentation to show any work that’s been done on your car. Make sure you have addressed existing recalls. If there is something you don’t know about your car, someone can easily find that out, and that puts you at a disadvantage in the negotiation.” — Matt Delorenzo, Kelley Blue Book
Provide history — both good and bad. It’s one thing to show how great a condition your car is currently in, but maintenance records and Carfax reports detailing any recalls, scheduled work or otherwise is also critical. Think of all the things you would like to know about a used car’s history, and then provide that in the add.
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“Given that a lot of these cars transact long-distance, the more information out there, the better. You don’t want any mystery or weird questions remaining — bidder confidence is what makes the price go up. Historical records are really important.” — Randy Nonnenberg, founder, Bring a Trailer
Be thoroughly responsive to any prospective buyer’s questions. If you are serious about selling your car, it’ll take some time and dedication. When potential buyers email or call with questions, you should be ready to answer them. The most frustrating hurdle in buying a new car is finding one you love only to have the seller flake out.
Have patience. Keep in mind this is Craigslist. The site is full of scams and false ads; similarly, you’ll run into fake buyers. Legitimate buyers will come asking realistic questions — use your best judgment when it comes to engaging other users.