Here’s How to Sell Your Used SUV

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Sales of used vehicles in the United States are at an all-time high. People and businesses are opting to buy used cars instead of new ones.

Selling a used SUV is easier than ever. Consumers have more knowledge and communication is a breeze.

Make a few taps on your smartphone. Within seconds you’ll receive car facts and prices.

Gone are the Internet-less days when consumers were at the mercy of dealerships. Used cars salesmen would bank on the lack of consumer knowledge.

Today, consumers looking to sell a used car have options. You can advertise online and compare prices in your area within minutes.

You have the option of selling to a junkyard or a dealership. Meeting private buyers online is not as challenging as before.

Not every option is equal, however. Read on to discover the best way to sell a used SUV.

Know Your Car’s Value

The first thing to do in selling a used SUV is knowing the car’s value.

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But there’s more to this than a quick Google lookup.

In getting a second-hand car’s value, there are right and wrong ways to go about it.

First, don’t trust the price quoted by a dealership.

These dealerships are in the business of selling cars. The lower the price they pay, the more profits to line their pockets.

Second, use online resources like Kelly’s Blue Book. Make sure, however, you don’t get the price from only one source.

Begin your search with Kelly’s Blue Book. Afterward, compare with other sources. Get a quote for the used SUV price from NADA Guide.

When you’re gathering price info, prepare to answer a series of questions. Be as truthful as possible. Expect to provide the used SUV’s make, model, mileage, and options.

Other questions will include the condition of the vehicle. An explanation will come with each condition category. Select the condition matching the real condition of your used SUV.

After you’re done answering the questionnaire, you’ll receive an estimate. Print that page. You’ll need to show it to the people or businesses looking to buy the car.

In most cases, you’ll get both the wholesale and retail value of the used SUV.

The retail value is the price you can expect to get from a private party sale. And as for the wholesale price? This is the price you can expect a dealer to offer.

Preparing a Used Car

Now that you know the fair retail and wholesale price for your used SUV, what’s next?

You’ll need to prepare the paperwork and the car itself.

To get the most value, put in the work. Get the SUV sales-ready.

Don’t wait until you find a buyer before you complete this step. You don’t want to scramble for required paperwork during the last hour.

Every state has its own set of rules. We listed the general requirements.

First, have the title ready. You’ll have to sign this and fork it over to the new owner.

If you have maintenance records, you can sell a used SUV faster. A detailed record of maintenance can also increase the car’s value.

Next, you’ll need a bill of sale if you sell in a private transaction.

One of many advantages of selling to a junkyard is less paperwork. You won’t have to worry about preparing a bill of sale. Junkyards will do it for you.

Other documents you might need are the release of liability, warranty documents, and as-is documentation. The as-is documentation may be part of the bill of sale. This varies on a case-to-case basis.

After you’ve gathered the paperwork, clean the used SUV. A clean appearance gives the impression the vehicle was under great care.

Wash the exterior, but don’t stop there. Vacuum the interior. Wash the windows and don’t forget the tires.

Taking Effective Photos

Only after the used SUV is clean should you take photos.

Take photos under natural sunlight to get the best images. You won’t need a fancy camera. The mid-range smartphone today can take excellent photos under enough lighting.

Take lots of pictures. Attracting online attention in a noisy virtual world requires eye-catching photos.

Make sure you take multiple images of the used SUV from varying angles. The more shots you take, the more options you’ll have when it’s time to upload.

Include shots of the car’s front, rear, and each side. For the interior photos, take pictures of the SUV’s trunk, front and back seats, carpets, and dashboards.

Finally, shoot photos of the engine and the wheels.

Selling Privately

One way to sell a used SUV is through a private sale.

You skip dealerships and other middlemen. This means no one else but you will pocket the proceeds.

But wait a moment before you go this route.

Yes, you’ll get more money. Remember, however, the extra cash will cost you in other ways.

You’ll need to invest more effort, skills, and time. With this option, you have to wear several hats. You’re the salesman, the advertiser, and the owner.

Attract the attention of private buyers online. Place ads on sites like eBay, Craigslist,, Kelley Blue Book, AutoTempest, and Beepi.

Your ad must include great photos of the used SUV. Write an enticing description while being truthful. Any buyer can pull up the car’s history online.

Be honest about the car’s repair and maintenance history. Include its condition and accidents involved, if any. The last thing you want is an angry buyer suing you.

Once you’ve attracted attention, prepare to meet the buyers. It’s time to show the car. You can meet them at home or at some other agreed place.

Put on your salesman’s hat. Prepare to answer questions. These can vary, depending on the buyers.

Why do you want to sell the car? What are you willing to add to sweeten the deal?

If you have time and the gift of gab, this could be the ideal option. The task will eat up time and energy.

Are you ready for it?

Dealer and Carmax Sales

Selling your used SUV to a used car dealership or Carmax has its advantages.

If time is not on your side, this is a good option. But the convenience will cost you.

Expect the value a dealership will offer won’t be the best price for the used SUV. They’re running a business. The higher the price a dealership will pay, the less they’ll profit.

Carmax is a better option when compared to dealerships. They tend to pay more than the average dealership.

Of course, this is only an option if you have a CarMax in your area.

They allow people to set an appraisal online. After the appraisal, you’ll have to bring the SUV to a CarMax store.

CarMax will conduct another appraisal. Expect this to take about 30 minutes.

Like car dealership sales, you’ll have to pay for the convenience with CarMax. You won’t get top dollar, but it’ll be a quicker transaction.

Advantages of Junkyards

Another option for your used SUV is selling it to a junkyard.

This option comes with great benefits. This is especially true if your schedule is hectic.

This is also the best option if your SUV has seen much better days.

But, you might be thinking, my car isn’t a total wreck. Why consider a junkyard sale?

Contrary to common misconceptions, selling a car to a junkyard isn’t an option for wrecked vehicles alone. Many junkyards will buy a worn-out car, even one that’s not totaled.

Is your SUV a popular model? You can sell the car to a junkyard that can make use of its parts.

You can also sell if you’re in a rush. Do you need the money fast? A junkyard sale will need far less time than a private one.

You won’t have to go through the added work of taking beautiful photos. You won’t have to wait for private buyers to find you online. A detailed cleaning of the car won’t be necessary.

Not only will a junkyard sale give you cash, you might be eligible for a tax deduction. This is applicable in cases where you can prove you took a significant loss on the sale.

How to Sell to a Junkyard

How do you begin selling your used SUV to a junkyard?

First, prepare the required documents.

These include the car’s original title. A junkyard will only purchase a car from its rightful owner. The car must also be fully paid for.

Next, find a reputable junkyard.

You can tap into the local Yellow Pages. Put together a list of junkyards in your area using a local Google search.

Find a junkyard that’s in your vicinity. At the very least, it should be close enough so you can deliver your SUV to the business without much expense.

Gather the list of possible junkyards you can work with. Contact each of them. Tell them about the car you want to sell.

Just like any other type of used car sales transaction, you’ll need to provide information about the used vehicle.

Tell them about the make and model of the car. Also include the kinds of damage, if any, the car has.

Prepare for all kinds of questions. Different junkyard personnel might have different questions. Why are you selling the car? Is the paperwork in order?

What price are you expecting to get?

Be as honest and accurate as you can. Don’t waste anyone’s time, including your own.

The junkyard will verify the information you provide.

Closing the Sale

Congratulations, you found a junkyard willing to buy your used car. What’s next?

You’ve shown the car and answered the questions. The buyer is happy with the car. All the information you provided checked out.

It’s now time to put on your negotiation hat.

Selling a used car, in all kinds of transactions, requires negotiation. Some old-school haggling, if you will. And that’s fine.

Don’t be fearful. It’s all right, and even wise, to make some counter offers. There’s nothing wrong with saying no to the first initial price offer.

If you did the first step we talked about, this shouldn’t be difficult. Researching the fair value of a used car is crucial.

Can you get the junkyard personnel to match your price? If not, at least you know how low you can go.

With proper initial price research, you can haggle and sell a used automobile at a good price.

Don’t fret because we can help you negotiate. Start here to learn the 8 top ways to get the best resale value of your car.

Paperwork and Payment

After you’ve agreed on a price, it’s time to finalize the paperwork.

This is the part where it’s easier to work with a junkyard than a private buyer.

The junkyard personnel will tell you what documents are necessary. They’ll also draft up sales-related paperwork for you.

All you must do is ensure you have the requirements. In most cases, you’ll need to show your driver’s license, vehicle title, and the latest registration.

What about cases involving missing titles?

This will depend on the location of the car. In certain states, a title is essential in order to transfer ownership.

In some states, a title is not required. You’ll have to provide a copy of your driver’s license or some other kind of valid ID. Show a copy of the registration.

As a general rule, you don’t need a title if the car is yours. The vehicle also has to be at least a decade old.

Inform the junkyard what the situation is. Let them know if you’re missing any paperwork. They can tell you whether a particular document is necessary or not, depending on state laws.

And how will you expect to get paid?

A reputable junkyard will pay with cold hard cash. If you wish, request a check or money order.

Read our junkyard FAQ to learn more.

Selling Your Used SUV

Not sure if you should sell your car to a junkyard? Uncertain when you should scrap your vehicle?

Do you have a car you want to sell? Newer models can fetch up to $15,000. We can give you a free estimation to see if you’re in that range.

Contact us now and get a cash offer fast. We’d be happy to hear from you and help you make money.

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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