How Much Can I Sell My Car For?

by Matt Smith

Selling your used car to a private party can earn you more than trading it in to a dealership. But before you can do that you need to know how much you can sell your car for.

Here are some guidelines to help you determine the best price for your vehicle.

How Much Can I Sell My Car For?

2022 Nissan Kicks

Step 1: Gather Details About Your Car

Before settling on a price, gathering pertinent details about your car and any paperwork required is vital. Make a note of your car's year, make, model, and trim level, writer down all optional features (things like leather upholstery or heated seats all count), check the odometer reading, and locate extended warranty paperwork if you have coverage. If the warranty is transferable, it could be a selling point for some buyers.

Next you'll need to evaluate your car's condition, taking note of things like door dings, dents, paint scratches, and worn upholstery. Look for paperwork received from the manufacturer regarding recalls. If this paperwork exists, ensure that the dealership has addressed the recalls. If you're selling a car you're still paying off be sure to contact the lender and coordinate to determine how best to handle the sale.

Locate receipts for maintenance and repairs. These will let prospective buyers know you've cared for your car responsibly.

Last but not least, look for documents you'll need to complete the sale. These include things like the car title. It's also helpful to prepare a bill of sale beforehand. Taking care of these things can help ensure the sale proceeds without a hitch.

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Step 2: Research Car Values

There are different steps you can take to research the value of your car. One option could be to hire a mechanic to assess the car and fix any issues you aren't aware of which can impact its value. However, for most buyers the easiest approach is to use a combination of online valuation tools such as the CarGurus Car Values page, and checking local listings of similar cars for sale. Pay special attention to cars with equipment and options similar to those in your own vehicle, as well as vehicles of a similar age and mileage.

2022 Nissan Maxima

Step 3: Avoid Common Mistakes People Make When Pricing a Used Car

Common mistakes people make when pricing a used car include letting an emotional attachment govern pricing, and not factoring in warranty coverage. In the latter instance, be sure to note if you have a transferable extended warranty, and increase the asking price of the car compared with those for sale locally that don't have a transferrable warranty. It's also always worth getting an instant cash offer, even if you're planning to sell your car privately. While it will net less profit than a private party sale, it'll give you a minimum selling price for your private listing. Simply enter your VIN or license plate number, confirm some details, and get a price.


Step 4: Set the Price

With the first three steps behind you, it's time to set the price and advertise your car for sale. Don't forget you can employ some old fashioned pricing psychology at this stage; are you thinking about listing your car for $14,000? Choosing $13,900 can make it look much more attractive to potential buyers while costing you very little in the long run.

When you sell a car on CarGurus, you'll see a handy pricing tool that values vehicles on several data points—including present market conditions—to provide the most accurate private party value. Enter a few details, and you'll get a suggested price immediately. If you adjust the listing price for your vehicle, the tool will tell you if it's a great, good, or fair deal—and it will even alert you if you're asking too much.

As a rule of thumb, shoppers see listings priced in the "good deal" range twice as often as cars marked as "fair deals"—and they see "great deals" four times as often. You may be tempted to price your car higher, but keep in mind that "overpriced" listings are seen only half as often as fairly priced cars.

Keep an eye on the market so your vehicle is always listed at a reasonable price. The closer your price straddles the line between "good deal" and "fair deal," the more likely it is to get bumped into the latter bracket as other competitively priced cars enter the market.

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Selling Your Car with CarGurus

Now you know how much you can sell your car for, it's time to decide how to sell it. On CarGurus you can either advertise your car for private sale, or sell 100% online.

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When it comes to cars, Matt's curiosity extends well beyond the powertrain. From Ford to Porsche, he's as interested in the history behind the machine as he is in the view behind the wheel. Matt has been working on the journalism side of the auto industry since 2014. As CarGurus’ Deputy Editor, he creates and oversees the site’s written and video content.

Throughout his career in the automotive industry, Warren has written everything from vehicle reviews to articles covering car insurance and leasing. His work has appeared in outlets such as Credit Karma, the New York Daily News, Edmunds, Carfax, and TrueCar. His mission is to help you make the best decisions regarding your vehicle.

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