Tips for Selling a Car on Craigslist

Know Your Goals

When selling a car on Craigslist the single most important thing for you is to know why you are selling the car and what your goals and expected outcomes are for selling the car. You need to know the answers to the following questions before you even post your ad on Craigslist.

Why are you selling the car?

Do you need the money? Are you just trying to get rid of an old car? Do you need to sell this car before you can buy a new car? Is it a car that you inherited or were given? There are so many reasons, but you need to know why you are selling it.

What is the very minimum that you will sell it for?

You need to know what the lowest price you are going to take. This directly relates to why you are selling the car.

What is the expected time frame for selling the car?

If you need money now then you will want to sell it as soon as possible. If you are not in a hurry then be willing to sit back and take offers.

Ensuring A Great Post

Your post on Craigslist is more important than most people think. The words you use and the pictures you post will shape the viewer's first impressions of the car. If the prospective buyer has an attachment to the car and is set on buying it before he or she even sees the car the chances are very high that the prospective buyer will buy the car on the spot.

To make your post good first be sure to use great pictures. Take the time to wash and wax the car so that it looks clean. Take a picture of the best side of the car. If the car has rust on one side take a picture from the side without rust. Where you take the picture is also important. If you take the picture in front of a garbage can or on a street in a rundown neighborhood this will create a negative impression in the potential buyer. But if you drive the car to a nice park or a nice street or in front of a nice house on a nice day then the potential buyer will have a much better impression of the vehicle before you buy it. Where you take the picture also depends on the type of car you are selling. If you are selling a truck it might be good to take it to a field or if you are selling a sports car you may want to take a picture of it by a scenic road or highway.

On Craigslist you get four pictures so make these pictures show the best aspects of the car. Try to let the prospective buyer envision themselves in the car.

What you write is also very important. You must try to understand who your potential buyers are. This depends on the make, model, year, condition, and price of your car. If your buyers are high school aged kids then most often parents will be involved in the purchase of the car. In this case you should talk about things such as the safety features of the car and the reliability of the car. No parent would buy their teenager a car that is not safe or that would leave their child stranded late at night. If you think that a single mother would be your potential buyer then talk about the gas mileage, price and reliability. Try to mention the best things about the car upfront. Also be sure to add all the things that you have enjoyed about the car. We are all human and we all get attached to things, talk about the things that you will miss when selling the car.

Most cars will have problems or deficiencies. It is very important that you are completely honest when selling a car. The Craigslist used car market is already filled with liars who try to sell cars by deceiving their potential buyers. This disrupts a free market that Craigslist has been so wonderful at setting up. It is often better that you put the issues in the Craigslist add, unless you possess super sales skills and you would be able to overcome a disappointed potential buyer. If you emphasize all the great things about the car and then quickly mention any deficiencies the potential buyer will rationalize his or her decision to buy the car despite the deficiencies on his/her own.

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Negotiating a Deal

The toughest part of selling a car on Craigslist is negotiating a deal. There are often scam artists that will claim that they out of the country and will pay via PayPal and have someone come pick it up after the payment clears. They often will say that they are at sea as a sailor or marine biologist and that they have no access to a bank account. Do not deal with these people. They send a fake confirmation email or cancel the payment after it clears then they will come get the car and you will be out of luck.

When a potential buyer does agree to come to your home or place where you have the car be sure to not meet the potential buyer alone. Also take safety precautions such as telling a friend of family member who, when, and where you are planning to meet the potential buyer. Although very rare there can be dangerous situations that arise from meeting strangers through Craigslist.

If the person takes the car for a test drive you do not have to go with them if you feel they are trustworthy and wont wreck your car or steal it. Usually if someone comes to buy the car they will leave their car and that acts as a kind of collateral. If the potential driver is driven by someone who does not get out of the car while the potential buyer is getting in your car to test drive then you may need to be cautious.

When negotiating a price be sure to remember that most buyers are going to make up some sob story about why they should be given a lower price. Remember that most buyers are able to pay the price that you listed on Craigslist or they would not have called. The amount you take also depends on your time frame for selling the vehicle. If you are not in a hurry then do not hurry to take the lowest offer, stand firm. If you are in a hurry then you make need to take a lower price, but do not be afraid to stand firm. If someone declines your offer often you can still make a lower offer the next day. Also, most buyers will make up stories about how they are trying to decide between two cars and that they have already made another offer. This may be true but most often it is not.

But the most important thing to remember when negotiating is your goals. Stand strong on your goals and you will be successful on Craigslist.

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Comments 6 comments

Omar 4 years ago

Selling a 1963 Buick wildcat

Joshua Sims 3 years ago

If Craigslist does not work out, I would look for alternative methods of selling my car. try if you want quick cash, try other local classifieds if you want the max value for your car. It can take some patience when selling a car, especially when you are using classifieds. Best of luck.

davidmurree profile image

davidmurree 3 years ago from USA

am selling my Honda civic 2004

Anthony Barrett profile image

Anthony Barrett 3 years ago from Glendale, Arizona

Good tips on entering a great post. Like how you toched on the "why" as well. That's the most important reason, the "why" should be the main focus when it come's to selling and buying a car or truck. Depending on the person, consigning their vehicle can also take a lot of the unwanted stress away when it comes to personally trying to sell their vehicle. Would recommend visiting if your looking to sell your vehicle without the headaches of doing it yourself. Great post.

sj21 profile image

sj21 3 years ago from USA

A really useful site for auto dealers who post their ads on craigslist is Craig Upload @ With this website, you can create individual albums to upload the pics for each car, track viewing statistics of your ads, and create HTML based templates. Its user friendly and there are no ads.

patricia Smallwood 2 years ago

I am selling my Chevrolet which has 13500 miles on it and the year is a 2008 Equinox sport which is in very good condition and the reason I want to sell it is I don't need 2 cars

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