How to Sell Your Car on Craigslist

Oct 28, 2021 2 min read

There comes a time in the life of every vehicle owner when they’re faced with the question: Do I trade in my car or sell it privately? Handing over the keys at the dealership can be a simple experience, but it may not net the most money for your vehicle. A private sale via an online marketplace such as Craigslist, however, affords you more negotiating power to yield top dollar. And, contrary to popular belief, selling a car on Craigslist is not a complicated undertaking. Here’s how to go about it from start to finish.      

1. Set a Price

Before you list your car for sale, you need to determine its fair market value. Pricing it too high can dissuade buyers; pricing it too low means you’ll get less money than it’s worth.

Research Kelley Blue Book to get a sense of your car’s value and compare it to similar listings on Craigslist. Then set the sale price. When determining your initial asking price, ask yourself what you want to get for the car and what is the minimum dollar amount you’ll accept. Start with the higher number.     

2. Prep the Car

Your vehicle should be in top shape before you present it for sale. Does it need new floor mats? This is an inexpensive replacement that goes a long way to improving how the car shows. What about the spare tire kit? Make sure it’s clean and stored in the trunk. Is the car in need of a wash and polish? Take it for a spin at the car wash and spend a few extra dollars for an interior detailing and a “new car smell” air freshener.  

3. Snap Lots of (Great) Photos

The more photos you include in the listing, the better. Take pictures after you’ve washed the vehicle and position the car for photos in a nice setting with good lighting — in front of a tree or on a lawn. Avoid taking photos of the car in your driveway or in front of your home and be sure to conceal sensitive information such as your license plate number and VIN.

Prospective buyers want to see everything from the odometer reading and condition of the seats to the engine and undercarriage. Include pictures of any issues such as dents or rust, too. Good photos of your car will be clear, high-quality and uncropped so buyers can see what the entire car looks like.

4. Write a Detailed Description

The best way to sell your car on Craigslist is to be as descriptive in the listing as possible. The headline should include the car’s make, model and mileage. The body of the listing should describe details about any recent maintenance (new brakes, new tires) that would make the vehicle more appealing, as well as its standard features. Be honest about the not-so-great aspects, too. If the air conditioning is broken, say it. If the passenger window doesn’t roll down, note it.

What shouldn’t you include in the description? Your home address and phone number. Use the Craigslist email to solicit initial inquiries.

5. Make the Sale

When selling a car on Craigslist, the test drive can make or break the sale. When it’s time to sell, pick a spot at which to meet potential buyers. Consider a public space, such as a shopping center parking lot that offers access to nearby streets for test-driving. To facilitate a smooth transaction, draft a bill of sale, request cash or a certified check, sign over the title and have a notary public at the bank witness the transaction before closing the deal. Be sure to make copies of the signed title, bill of sale and check for your files.

Keeping You Covered

Whether you’ve just sold your vehicle or purchased a new one, make sure your car insurance is up to date. Connect with a Farm Bureau agent today to discuss your policy. 

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.