The Ultimate Selling Your Car Checklist

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Marc Skirvin

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Did you know that, according to Finances Online, there were over 284 million cars in the US in 2019? In 2020, this number went up to over 286 million, and in 2021, this number went up to over 289 million.

These statistics show that the number of Americans with cars has been steadily rising over time. They also show that the need for cars is rising—so if you’ve been thinking of selling your car, this is the perfect time to do so.

However, you might not be sure where to start. There are a lot of different steps you have to take to sell a used car, and if you don’t know what they are, this can be stressful.

That’s why we’ve put together this article. In it, we’ll provide you with a checklist to follow to sell your car.

Finally, you can sell your car and make some money. Read on to learn more.

Get the Right Paperwork and Documents for Selling Your Car

If you’re wondering, “How do I sell my car?” the answer is that you have to take several steps, the first being getting the right paperwork and documents. These include maintenance records, your vehicle’s history report, an “as is” document, and more.

Maintenance Records

When it comes to how to sell a car, you need to gather all the maintenance records, such as proof of belt or hose inspections, tire rotations, filter replacements, and oil changes. If you can’t find these records, get in touch with your repair shop or dealership.

Chances are, they’ll have files of the maintenance you’ve had done on your car.

The reason you need to do this is that buyers will be more interested in—and will therefore be more willing to pay more—a car that has had regular maintenance.

Vehicle History Report

It’s important to potential buyers that you’re able to provide history about your car. If you aren’t the original owner, then there might be a history you don’t know about, which is why getting a vehicle history report is essential. Be upfront about any issues such as:

  • Major repairs
  • Previous accidents

Additionally, be open to providing buyers with your car’s V.I.N. number so that they can do a history check themselves. To obtain your car’s history report, you can do this online at a website like or

“As Is” Document

This is one of the most important documents you have to create because it states that there isn’t an implied warranty you’re giving when you sell your car. The new owner is the one who will be responsible for any additional repairs outside of existing warranties.

They’re accepting the car “as is.” It may be worth having a lawyer look this document over so that you don’t have to pay money later for additional repairs.

Extended Coverage or Warranty Documentation

Even though you’re creating an “as is” document for your potential buyer, there may be extended coverage or a warranty that still covers your car even after you’ve sold it. In this case, you want to share this information with potential buyers.

If there are any warranties from the original manufacturer covering the replacement of parts like the transmission, exhaust system, tires, or battery, provide these.

You should also do any research about transferring any contracts from you to the new owner.

By doing all this, your potential buyers will be more interested in buying your car because they won’t have to worry about some additional costs once they’ve bought it from you.

Vehicle Title

To transfer the ownership of the car, you need the vehicle title. You should have this if you’ve already paid for the car, and all you have to do is sign it. However, if you’re still making car payments, you have to get in touch with the lien holder.

Then, you have to pay off the loan so that you can legally transfer ownership.

Odometer Disclosure

You also need to provide an odometer disclosure. This includes details such as your car’s V.I.N., the car’s year, make, and model, the buyer’s address and name, the vehicle’s mileage when you do the ownership transfer, and yours and the buyer’s signatures.

Additionally, this will include, depending on what your state legally requires, a Notary’s Public seal.

Current Safety and Emissions Certificate

This isn’t required in all states, but if it’s required where you’re based, then you’ll need to include this document when selling your car. If you already have the certificate you need, new buyers won’t have to worry about paying to get it themselves.

Bill of Sale

When it comes to the best way to sell a car, having a bill of sale is a big part of the process. Even though you aren’t required to produce one, having a bill of sale is evidence that the purchase went through, which can protect you later against disputes or complaints.

Decide on Your Car’s Price

Once you’ve prepared all the documents needed, it’s time to decide on your car’s price. This will depend on several factors, including your car’s make and model, additional extras, mileage, overall condition, warranty, inspection results, and more.

Your Car’s Make and Model

Make a note of your car’s make and model, as well as the year. This should give you an idea of the general worth of the car. Note down any additional extras that might have come with the car, such as an upgraded sound system, navigational system, or leather interior.

The Mileage

When you sell your car for parts, the mileage doesn’t matter much. But if you’re re-selling your car to a buyer who plans to use it, mileage is a big deal. The lower the mileage, the higher the price of the car can be. If it’s high, think of finding other ways to bring the price up.

Overall Condition

Look at your car’s exterior and interior, noting any issues regarding its condition such as stained or ripped upholstery, a cracked windshield, dents, or scratches. You have the option of repairing these problems or letting buyers know about them.


As discussed before, your car having a warranty is also something that will drive its price up. So will regular maintenance. On the other hand, repairs for serious issues or any recalls on your car’s made and model will drive the price lower.

Inspection Results

By getting a professional to inspect your car, you’ll be able to find out about any underlying issues you haven’t found. You’ll also have a professional opinion regarding your car’s condition. This can help you get closer to the right price.

Similar Cars

Another way to figure out how much to sell your car for is to see how much similar cars are selling for online and in your area. You should also look at Blue Book, Bold Book, and Black Book to find out what the official value of your car is.

Payments Due

If you still have payments due on your car, then this will impact how much you sell it for. You might have to ask for more so that you can pay off what’s left over before getting the right to pass the car’s title to its new owner.

Room for Negotiation

Finally, you want your price to be high enough so that you have a bit of room for negotiation. Chances are, buyers will try to negotiation down. So you should make the price you’re asking for higher than what you actually want to get for your car.

Prepare Your Car for the Sale

Once you know how much you want to sell the car for, it’s time to prepare your car for the sale. By giving your car some TLC and paying for some minor repairs, you can make your car more appealing, which means buyers will be willing to pay more.

If there are any unusual noises or imperfections, you should either fix these or make sure you bring these up to buyers, as they’re likely to notice these.

Replace any burnt-out fuses or lights, change your car’s oil, and top off its fluids. Wash your car, then wax it, to make it appealing at first sight. You should also thoroughly clean the car’s interior as needed.

If cleaning the interior or exterior is too much work, then you should hire a professional to do this. Your car will look much newer if it’s clean inside-out.

Create Your Advertisement

Now you’re ready to create your advertisement. Take high-quality photographs of the car, and then put together a document that covers details such as its make and model, the body style, V.I.N. number, price, mileage, and any additional features.

Remember that the photographs should include not only the outside of the car but every part of it in different articles. If you really want to get creative, you could even create a video where you give potential buyers a tour of your car.

Bring attention to your car’s best features. Additionally, explain why you’re selling it. Buyers are going to ask this anyway, and this will make you seem like a trustworthy, transparent seller.

Include any of the information we covered earlier, such as the car’s condition, any repairs, and whether there’s a warranty that comes with it.

You should also include information regarding how you plan to negotiate. Usually, these options include “asking price,” “OBO,” “must sell,” or “firm.” You should also be clear about which payment methods you’re accepting.

Finally, include contact information. With it, include when you’re available for phone calls and how long buyers should expect to wait before hearing back from you.

Plan to Meet and Negotiate

Once you’ve shared your advertisement, you’ll start to hear from potential buyers. Respond as quickly as you can and be flexible in terms of when you can meet. You should also decide on where you’ll be meeting—a public place is usually better than near your home.

Because buyers are likely to want to test drive your car, you should prepare for this legally. Ask for a copy of their insurance and driver’s license, as well as all their details including an address. This way you’ll be legally protected.

If you don’t plan on riding in the car with them, then it can be a smart idea to ask for their car keys while they drive your car around.

Once they’ve come back from the test drive, they might be ready to negotiate.

Have all the documents we mentioned at the beginning with you, as this will make you seem professional, which is always good during a negotiation process.

To negotiate properly, you have to know in your head already what the lowest price you’ll agree on is. By sticking to this number, you can make sure you’re happy with negotiation results, whatever they are.

Close the Deal

Finally, you’ll close the deal and sell the car. Sign the documents discussed above, such as the odometer reading and the “As Is” document. Have the buyer sign them too. You should also present your bill of sale, which you’ll both sign.

Looking for a Buyer?

Now that you know all the steps you need to take when selling your car, you might be ready to find a buyer. You know all the documents you need to create and what price to give your car. But where can you find a buyer? Look no further than Cash Auto Salvage.

We buy all types of cars, including cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans. We also make the process incredibly easy, getting you an instant offer in up to 90 seconds.

To find out how much we’ll buy your car for, get your instant offer now.

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About the Author

Picture of Marc

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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