How To Sell Your Car with CarGurus

by Matt Smith

Selling your car with CarGurus is easy. You can either sell 100% online, or list your car for sale privately. While there's no guarantee, both options will generally net you more money than a typical dealership trade-in price.

Fast Facts

  • Selling with CarGurus 100% online is the fastest way to sell your car.
  • Posting a for-sale listing will give you control over the vehicle’s asking price (and a better chance of getting a higher price) but, as always with a private car sale, the process requires more effort.
  • If you're interested in researching options in addition to what CarGurus offers, read our guide to the Best Ways to Sell Your Car.

How to Sell Your Car with CarGurus

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Option 1: Sell Your Car 100% Online

The Internet allows us all to cast a much wider net for prospective car buyers. We’re no longer limited by word of mouth, newspaper classifieds, or the local dealership’s trade-in offer. With online car sales, you can more accurately gauge the value of your vehicle, find a motivated buyer, and complete the transaction in days, rather than weeks.

CarGurus partners with CarOffer to provide an instant cash offer for your vehicle. Enter a few details, such as your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or license plate number, and your vehicle’s mileage, and we’ll provide an offer sourced from our dealership network in under two minutes.

Once you’ve received an offer for your car, you can schedule a time to have your vehicle picked up. Make sure to track down your vehicle’s title or lien information, grab your government-issued ID (like a driver’s license), and snap a photo of the vehicle’s odometer. Once we’ve come for the vehicle, you’ll sign a couple documents and then be paid either via check or direct deposit. It’s as easy as that: Get an offer, have your car picked up, get paid.

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List Your Vehicle as a Private Sale

It’s not as fast as selling your vehicle 100% online, but you can also list your car for sale on CarGurus. Some shoppers still prefer to personally handle car selling from start to finish. If you want to set your vehicle’s for-sale price, communicate with buyers, and handle the sale personally, CarGurus can help you find motivated buyers quickly. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Gather Documents
The first step toward selling your car to a private party is gathering all the necessary documentation. Every state requires you to transfer the vehicle’s title to the new owner. You can pick up a title transfer form (and pay the accompanying fee) at your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Beyond a title transfer, however, there are a few extra forms you’ll need, depending on where you’re selling your car. There are:

  • Bill of Sale. This documents the car's changing hands. It includes information about both buyer and seller, the date of purchase, and often the purchase price, VIN, and mileage of the car being sold.
  • Release of Liability. This is a notice to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles stating that the car is no longer in your possession. This protects the seller from any violations the new owner may commit in the car, such as a parking ticket or collision.
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement. This is a recording of your car’s mileage at the time of the sale. Basically, it’s included to certify that the mileage listed on the car’s odometer is accurate and no one has tampered with it.

2. Prepare Your Car
Just as we treat others the way we’d like to be treated, a private seller should prep their car for sale as if they were shopping for it themselves. Give your car a good wash and pay special attention to the wheels – scrub the inside edge of the spokes and invest in some tire-shine products. On the inside, you’ll want to vacuum the seats, carpets, and floor mats. Wipe down any hard surfaces, and Windex those windows, inside and out!

3. Take Photos
Beyond great pricing, a set of high-quality, truthful photographs is the best way to draw shoppers’ attention to your car. Shoot plenty of interior and exterior photos, and if your vehicle has any noticeable blemishes, photograph those as well. Prospective buyers who come to test drive your car will be more likely to make an offer if they’re not unpleasantly surprised by the sight of it.

4. List Your Car
Finally, after gathering the paperwork and detailing and photographing your car, it’s time to put it up for sale. Use the CarGurus Instant Market Value too to help you figure out the price, then plug in your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), specs, a description, your location, and a lead photo to create your listing. After you've entered all this information, you’ll be able to add more photos and communicate with potential buyers securely through our anonymized email system (no need to give your phone number to strangers). Bear in mind they'll need the VIN in order to obtain a CarFax or other vehicle history report. With a buyer lined up, double-check your state’s requirements for privately selling a car. If you’re selling yours “as-is,” be sure to note this on the bill of sale.

Once your car is sold, make sure to log in to your CarGurus account and close your listing.

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Selling a Car You Still Owe Money On

If you still owe money on your car, you can still sell via CarGurus, either as a private listing, or 100% online. For more information, read our guide to how to sell a car you haven't paid off yet.

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Selling Your Car to Someone in a Different State

Different states have different requirements for selling vehicles, but the process can be relatively straightforward. Ensure both you and the buyer have the paperwork required, and make sure they know what they’ll need to transport the vehicle out of state.

For more information, read our full guide to selling a car out of state.

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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.

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