How to Sell a Car for the Most Money?

Sell your used car to a private buyer and pocket more than a dealer trade-in could ever get you. Plus, some other tips and tricks for maximizing profits in a private car sale.
We'll show you how to sell your car for the most money while avoiding headaches.

Step 1: Sell Your Car Privately

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 middleman 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.
You drive the deal on your terms; you can control pricing and negotiate the best deal directly with buyers.

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

“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).

List your car for sale and experience the magic of PrivateAuto’s private sale process for yourself.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Step 2: Price Your Car Right

If you’re going to sell your car on the private market, you’ll need to set a price for it–unless you decide to auction it.

PrivateAuto allows you to choose between a standard sale and an auction.

Price Your Car For a Standard Sale

When deciding how much to sell your car for, you need to be in the realm of reality. Valuation tools such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, NADA, or our handy value calculator show your car’s fair market value (FMV). These valuation tools will return a range, and you can decide where to position your car within that range.

If you need to sell your car fast, you’re probably willing to take a hit on price. Conversely, if you’re going for top dollar, don’t be in a huge hurry to sell.

Assuming your goal is getting the most for your vehicle, price it at the upper end of its fair market value range. Then wait to see what offers roll in.

PrivateAuto streamlines vehicle negotiations with our innovative “make an offer” feature. Would-be buyers can offer less than your asking price, and you can accept, reject, or counteroffer with the click of a button. Our negotiation capabilities allow you to price your car at the high end of its FMV, while still receiving offers.

Auction For Unusual Vehicles

If you're selling a classic car, customized vehicle, or some other unusual vehicle, you’ll have a hard time arriving at a fair market value. You can’t just plug your details into Kelley Blue Book and get an FMV because KBB and other valuation tools won’t have any comparables.

For rare or enthusiast vehicles, an auction is the way to go. An auction allows you to assess what the market is willing to pay.

PrivateAuto makes it easy to hold your own auction. With low fees, instant payments, and self-serve technology, you’ll be able to get maximum value for your collectible vehicle.

Step 3: List Your Vehicle on the Right Platform

You can list your car for sale on any or all of the many car-selling websites. You want one that fits the following criteria to get the most money for your car:

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

In other words, you want PrivateAuto—a fully transactional online marketplace that gives you end-to-end tools to get the deal done.

PrivateAuto’s great and all, but we understand if you want to list your car on other websites to get more views. If you do, we still want you to have the transactional security and convenience that our users enjoy.

That’s why we created DealNow. DealNow allows you to start a deal on any site, and finish it on PrivateAuto. 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 vehicle information number 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. This is stored in your PrivateAuto account as a legal record you can refer to down the road.
6. The buyer is prompted to initiate payment.
7. You get a notification of funds received and confirm receipt of payment.
8. You sign over the car title and hand over the keys.

Step 4: Make Your Car Look Good

Prospective buyers are willing to pay more for a car that looks and smells good. The most obvious way to spruce up the appearance of your used car is to get it detailed.

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 using them incorrectly can sometimes make matters worse.

High-quality listing photos can help your car sell 20% faster than lower-quality amateur shots. PrivateAuto offers professional car photography services by CarLife for only $295. A photographer will come to your location to shoot up to 50 high-res images and a video highlighting your vehicle's best angles and features.

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.
Image highlighting Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Step 5: Don’t Lose Money on Transaction Fees

You don’t just want to command a top-tier price for your car—you also want to pocket all of the money. Yet many forms of payment erode your profits with transaction fees. Not to mention that they are risky and cumbersome.

Before PrivateAuto Pay, there weren’t any good ways to get paid for your car.

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

PrivateAuto Pay is so easy, so secure, and so convenient that you’ll never want to do a deal without it—especially in a high-value transaction. It’s basically Venmo for high-dollar transactions.

Here’s how the magic works:

Your PrivateAuto Pay account is a bank account that you own, accessed via your PrivateAuto profile.
You can easily move money between your PrivateAuto Pay account and your external bank account via a balance transfer.
You can receive unlimited payments instantly from the seller into your PrivateAuto Pay account.
Instant payments arrive any time of day, every day of the year.
There is no exchange of contact information or banking info.
Encrypted info protects your data from hackers.
You’re able to conclude the entire transaction when you meet the buyer for a test drive.
You can even sell a car to a remote buyer and forgo costly and inconvenient escrow services.

Vehicle Selling FAQ

What is the safest way to receive money on Facebook Marketplace?

Your safest way to receive money on Facebook Marketplace would be PrivateAuto Pay. Facebook Marketplace is great for getting a lot of eyeballs on your listing, but it doesn’t have much transactional infrastructure. Listings sites, such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, function as “meetingplaces” to connect a buyer to a seller—and then leave them in the lurch to negotiate issues such as payments, document signing, and the rest.

PrivateAuto’s DealNow lets you start a deal on another platform (such as Facebook) and conclude it on PrivateAuto.

How can I sell a car quickly?

What is the best site for private car sales?

What documents do I need when selling a car?

Do I need to take off my license plates when selling a car?

How do I transfer a title when selling the car?

Who pays the highest price for junk cars?

Do I need a bill of sale when selling a car privately?

Is there a market for classic cars?