Five Steps to Selling Your Car Fast

Sell your used car to a private buyer and pocket more than a dealer trade-in could get you.

Follow these steps to expedite your sale process while avoiding headaches:
Let’s get to it!

One: Make Your Car Look Good

Take the time to clean and detail your car inside and out. This will help it sell faster by making a great first impression on potential buyers.

You can erase shallow scratches with an artist brush and a small vial of matching body paint, which you can purchase fairly cheaply at most dealerships. You can also pop out small dents and dings with inexpensive at-home repair kits.

Read the instructions or watch an instructional video before you attempt to use these tools, as misusing them can make matters worse.

Last but not least, don’t forget the air freshener. Scent marketing is a very real thing, and studies show that the “new car smell” increases sales of vehicles.
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Two: Set a Realistic Asking Price

Decide how much to sell your car for. It needs to be realistic: if you ask too much for it, it won’t sell fast, or may not even sell at all. If you ask too little, you may be throwing money away.

You need to figure out what your car's market value is, based on its year, make, model, mileage, and geographical area. Use Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, or NADA to get an accurate sense of its fair market value (FMV). These valuation tools will return a range, and you can then decide where to position your car within the FMV price range.

Here's how to think about pricing your car within the FMV range

1. Since you're in a hurry to sell, you could set your price at the bottom of the FMV scale or even lower. You probably care more about speed than you do about squeezing every possible dollar out of the sale.
2. If you weren't in such a hurry, you could price your car at the top of the FMV or even a bit higher, in the hopes that a prospective buyer is willing to pay more.
3. You could price it right in the middle of the suggested FMV range for a balanced approach.

Three: Find a Buyer Fast

You’ll need to list your car on one or more marketplaces that will attract buyers fast. Look for a platform that fits the following criteria:

Self-serve technology gives you convenience and security
An intuitive deal flow takes you through every step of selling your vehicle
In-app messaging and scheduling keep your personal information private
An integrated payment gateway lets you receive large sums of money instantly and fee-free

In other words, you want a fully transactional online marketplace that gives you end-to-end tools to get the deal done. PrivateAuto is the only platform that fits the bill. List your car for sale today to connect with qualified buyers.

PrivateAuto is the most user-friendly place to sell your car, but we don't hate other listing sites. In fact, some of them have terrific reach. The problem is, they don't give you the tools you need to get the deal done. That's why we created DealNow.

DealNow allows you to use PrivateAuto's transactional technology, even if you've met your buyer on another site such as Facebook Marketplace, CarGurus, or Craigslist.

Here’s how it works:

1. Invite the buyer to DealNow via a custom link.
2. Enjoy identity verification, in-app messaging, and a test drive scheduling feature (none of which require you to exchange contact info).
3. Meet the buyer and let the buyer drive your car.
4. You and the buyer go together through a step-by-step transaction process in which you each confirm relevant details right in the PrivateAuto mobile app. From mileage to the VIN to the condition of the vehicle, we help you both prevent any errors.
5. You and the buyer each electronically sign an official bill of sale. The buyer gets confirmation that you have signed and that they are safe to pay for the car since the bill of sale is a legally binding document. Both you and the buyer have a copy of the signed bill of sale stored in your PrivateAuto account for reference.
6. The buyer is prompted to initiate payment via our integrated banking gateway, PrivateAuto Pay.
7. You get the money instantly in your PrivateAuto Pay account and confirm receipt of payment.
8. You sign over the car title and hand over the keys.

DealNow is so smooth, so safe, and so fast that you’ll never want to sell a car without it. No matter where you find your buyer—from eBay Motors to Autotrader to the friend of a friend—DealNow will help you get the deal done and get paid, right now.

Bottom line: list your car wherever you like (including PrivateAuto), then use PrivateAuto’s tech to close the deal. You’ll have buyers pouring in, and PrivateAuto’s handy dashboard will help you screen them all, arrange the test drive, and get paid. It’s the fastest and safest way to get your car sold.

Four: Have All Your Documents Ready to Go

You can’t sell your car without its title and other key info. Dig out your title and other docs well in advance so you aren’t scrambling to find them when you need them most. While different states may require different paperwork, these are the documents you’ll typically need:

1. Certificate of Title
2. Vehicle history report (optional but recommended)
3. Bill of sale (mandatory in some states, recommended in all)
4. Release of liability form
5. Odometer disclosure form


Your car’s title is the most critical document. It proves you’re the owner, and after you transfer the title to the buyer, it will prove that they are the owner.

If you’ve forgotten where you’ve stored your vehicle title, give yourself some time to find it before listing your car for sale.

If you can’t find it, get a replacement title ASAP.

Replacing a lost vehicle title is a straightforward process:

Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles or visit their website to begin the replacement title application.
There is typically a small fee of around $25 to obtain a duplicate title.
You'll need to provide your ID, VIN, current registration, and possibly an odometer disclosure statement with the current mileage.
After submitting the application, the DMV will mail you a new title, typically within 2 weeks.

Once you have the replacement title in hand, you can sign it over to the buyer when selling your car, just like with any other title transfer.

Vehicle History Report

While a vehicle history report is not mandatory, it can certainly give potential buyers peace of mind. It covers ownership history and service records and demonstrates how well you’ve cared for your car.

We provide a vehicle history report for all premium listings when you sell your car on PrivateAuto.

Here are some reasons why a vehicle history report is such a good idea:

1. It demonstrates you have nothing to hide. Providing a report shows transparency and proactively addresses any concerns about the vehicle's history.
2. It builds trust and credibility as a seller. A detailed report proves you're forthcoming about the car's background.
3. It verifies maintenance and repairs. A history report lists service records, oil changes, major repairs, and other work.
4. It can justify your asking price. Documentation of new tires, battery, regular maintenance, etc. helps support pricing.
5. It highlights that the car was well cared for. Regular servicing and repairs indicate responsible ownership.
6. It can ease buyer concerns about accidents or damage. The report documents any collisions or insurance claims.
7. It avoids headaches later if issues arise. A thorough history provides proof if questions arise after purchase.
8. It makes your car stand out. Providing a report shows your willingness to go the extra mile as a seller.

Bill of Sale

Many states require a bill of sale when you legally relinquish ownership of a vehicle to another person.

Whether or not your state requires it, a bill of sale is a really smart idea. It protects you in case the buyer ever wants to contest the sale or any of the specifics of the sale. It memorializes the VIN, selling price, vehicle mileage, and other key details—and it has the buyer’s signature.

PrivateAuto makes the bill of sale easy. You and the buyer review the transaction details, then digitally sign the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto mobile app. You always have it as a record in your PrivateAuto account

Release of Liability Form

File a release of liability form when selling privately. This notifies your state that you no longer own the vehicle. It protects you from legal and financial liability for the car after the transfer. It releases you from responsibility if the vehicle is damaged or involved in an accident after you close the sale.

Odometer Disclosure Form

Per the federal Truth in Mileage Act, private sellers must reveal in writing the exact mileage of the car at the moment of transfer of ownership. Never round up or estimate when filling out this document.

Both you and the buyer will need to sign the odometer disclosure at the time of sale.

Five: Get Paid

Many car sellers don’t think about the process of getting paid—until they reach that stage of the transaction and realize that it’s not exactly easy. The transfer of funds can often slow a deal down and make the whole process more cumbersome.

There haven’t been a lot of great forms of payment when selling a car—until now. Previous payment methods have serious drawbacks:

Cash: inconvenient and risky.
Check: inconvenient and slow.
Bank transfer: inconvenient and slow.
Peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo or Paypal: transaction limits, sometimes fees.

The only hassle-free and safe way to get paid is PrivateAuto Pay.
PrivateAuto Pay is our built-in banking integration that enables instant, secure, and fee-free funds transfers up to $1M. It’s a dream come true for car sellers.

Your PrivateAuto Pay account is a bank account that you own, accessed via your PrivateAuto profile.
Easily move money between your PrivateAuto Pay account and your external bank account via a balance transfer.
Receive up to $1 million instantly from the seller into your PrivateAuto Pay account.
Instant payments arrive any time of day, every day of the year.
No exchange of contact information or banking info.
Encrypted info protects your data from hackers.
Conclude the entire transaction when you meet the buyer for a test drive.
Sell a car to a remote buyer and forgo costly and inconvenient escrow services.

Why Is It Better To Sell Your Car Yourself?

“Highly recommend. I saved a ton of money by selling my car myself compared to what the dealership was offering on trade-in.” —Konner (Google reviewer, 5 stars).

You will put more money in your pocket if you sell your car privately rather than trading it in at the dealership. Here are the advantages of skipping the dealership and selling a car yourself:

Dealerships offer you a lower trade-in value so they can resell at higher retail prices. They make their money by buying low and selling high. Skip the middleman and pocket that cash yourself.
You have access to a wider pool of potential buyers by selling privately. More buyers means more competition and better offers.

PrivateAuto gives you an easy private-party sales experience complete with digital payments, verified identities, and vehicle history reports.

By cutting out the dealer, you can sell your car faster and at a higher sale price. Our technology simplifies private sales, so you earn more from your vehicle.
You drive the deal on your terms; you can control pricing and negotiate the best deal directly with buyers.
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Would You Like to Sell Your Car on PrivateAuto?

Ready to sell your car? It's easy. Here’s how the entire process of selling a car with PrivateAuto works:

1. You create an account on PrivateAuto.
2. You list your car with our easy, step-by-step guided selling process.
3. You set your pricing and terms and screen would-be buyers.
4. You vet incoming offers and choose a buyer.
5. You meet the buyer for a test drive.
5. You and the buyer e-sign documents from your PrivateAuto mobile app.
6. You get paid instantly.
Looking to buy a car? Shop used cars for sale by owner and find the ride of your dreams today!

Selling a Car FAQ

How does PrivateAuto help me manage offers when I sell my car?

Online listing services can quickly drum up a lot of interest and have your inbox full of offers, information requests, and requests for test drives.

Here are a few ways you can manage multiple offers on PrivateAuto:

- Accept, reject, or counter individual offers.
- Schedule meet-up times.
- Recommend locations and times for test drives.
- Link listings on multiple sites to the PrivateAuto platform.

All of this communication occurs through the PrivateAuto app, rather than your personal email or phone number. You can manage all offers on one handy dashboard.

What is the best site for private car sales?

How does PrivateAuto vet buyers?

How much should I sell my car for?

How secure is PrivateAuto Pay?

Should I sign the bill of sale before or after receiving the payment?

How to protect myself when selling a car privately?

Are checks a safe way of receiving a payment?