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Seller's Guide

Why Sell at

You get lots of pictures—up to six total—and you can renew your ad three times. And if thatís not enoughÖ

It's free!
We connect you with car shoppers in your area.
It's safe; we review every ad for fraud.
We're all about cars! No clutter makes car shopping easier.
Did we mention it's a free service provided by

Price Your Car

Donít price your car too high. This is a common problem, and it will most likely keep shoppers from contacting you.

Use our Kelley Blue Book pricing tool to find private-party pricing on your car.
Be honest about the condition of your car. The more open you are about the dents and dings, the more shoppers will know what to expect. Meeting shopper expectations helps close the sale.
Search car listings at to see how other sellers in your area are pricing similar cars by using our price widget.
Factor in any needed repairs to your asking price. If your car is worth $10,000 but needs a new clutch, reduce the asking price to account for the repair costs.
Be realistic. Is your car still popular with shoppers? If itís not, price it accordingly.

Create an Ad That Sells

Youíre ready to sell. Now, how do you create an ad that attracts a buyer?

A picture says a thousand words. Clichť, yes, but people like to see what theyíre buying. You can post up to six photos on, so use them! Include a variety of shots that show the outside and inside, and donít forget about the dashboard, wheels and tires, engine and trunk. Post pictures of your carís special features. What makes it different or better than the rest?
Describe the features you love. Are you wild about the sunroof, the navigation system, V-8 engine? Tell car shoppers why youíve enjoyed owning your car.
Are you the carís only owner or driver? Has it been stored indoors year-round? These are also worth mentioning.
Be descriptive—paint a vivid picture! Avoid using generalities like ďLoaded!Ē or ďLike new!Ē Explain what the car is loaded with, and how it is ďlike new.Ē Does it have low mileage for its age? Is the interior squeaky clean?

Prep Your Car for Sale

Download the Freebo Used Car Sellerís Checklist

Take a tip from dealers—make your car as clean as possible.

Clean your car thoroughly. Wash and wax the exterior, remove all clutter—from the trunk, too—vacuum and wipe down all surfaces and clean all the windows. If you donít have the time for all this, you can have it detailed at the car wash. Pricing ranges from $20 to $50 for a basic wash, and $100 to $200 for full detailing, which usually includes carpet shampoo and wax, etc.
Replace burnt-out lights or fuses.
Get a vehicle history report to show the buyer. You can get one at
Top off all fluids.
Gather receipts for any maintenance or repair work youíve done. Make a list to show shoppers how youíve maintained your car.
Some shoppers may want a mechanic to inspect your car. Itís not a bad idea to have it inspected by your mechanic before you sell it—to avoid any surprises as you get close to selling the car.
You can also have a third-party service inspect your car. These companies visit your home or office and independently verify the carís condition. Look in the phone book to find service providers. It usually costs around $100.
Make a copy of your title. If you donít have it, call the lending company and ask them to send it to you with a lien release. If you paid off your loan already and the lending company no longer exists, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation at 888-206-4662 can help you get the title.

My Adís Ready—Now I Need to Find a Buyer

Make sure car shoppers can contact you. We ask that you list your email address, but the phone number is optional. Some advice? List your phone number. The more ways shoppers have to contact you, the better.

Return email and voice mail messages promptly. The shopper may cool off or find a better car if you donít reply within 24 to 48 hours.
The first time a shopper contacts you, get the full name, email address and phone number. Use a phone book or other directories to confirm the buyerís identity. This helps avoid fraud—be wary if the info doesnít check out.
Your first contact is another opportunity to sell the car. Emphasize the selling points without exaggerating.
Be honest and direct. The shopper might ask some tough questions about your car, and answering them truthfully will ultimately save you time by narrowing leads to the most interested buyers. Honesty builds credibility—nobody expects a used car to be perfect, but they do want to know about problem areas.
Encourage the shopper to see and test-drive the car. Make yourself available at the buyerís convenience if possible. See How to Set Up a Test Drive for more info on test drives.

How to Sell Your Car When You Still Owe on It

You can sell your car—even if you havenít paid it off yet. You have to close the loan with your lender. Hereís how:

Call the lending company to figure out the best way to close out the loan. Ask about obtaining a lien release, which says that there are no outstanding loan obligations on your car.
If you owe more on your loan that you can pay prior to the sale of your car, itís still possible to close the loan and transfer ownership at the same time. can help direct payment to the lien holder during a normal escrow transaction. For more info on escrow services, see How to Secure Safe Payment.
If the options above wonít work, conduct the sale through the lien holder. You can then pay off the loan balance with the sale proceeds and immediately sign over the title to the new owner. Call the lien holder first so the company can help guide the transaction. If the lien holder is out of state, get a temporary operating permit from your stateís Department of Motor Vehicles. Once the loan is paid off, you can then send the signed title to the new owner. This type of transaction involves a bit more faith from the buyer, but remind the person that itís also in your best interest to transfer the title as soon as possible to eliminate any personal liability.
Leased cars are another story. If you want to transfer your lease to a new owner, we recommend using a lease-transfer service.

How to Avoid Fraud

Read our fraud blog

Donít be discouraged from selling your car yourself, but do keep an eye out for scams.

Cashier check scams: In a typical scenario, a buyer ó who usually inquires from overseas ó arranges to pay for the car with a cashier's check or certified check in an amount that's more than what youíre asking for. The buyer justifies sending the extra cash by saying a previous sale fell through, or claiming the money is required to pay for shipping expenses or customs fees.

A couple of things can happen after that. The buyer could ask you to wire the difference to him or the shipping company to cover expenses. Or the buyer will send a cashier's check as a down payment and then decide to back out of the deal and ask for the money back.

When asked to wire money, just say no. It's never a good idea to wire money to someone you don't know because it's an untraceable transaction. Stop negotiating with anyone who proposes this kind of bargain.

Phony escrow services: Escrow services act as middlemen between buyers and sellers. They collect payments from buyers, wait until the buyers collect and approve the purchases, and then send the money to the sellers.

The internet is littered with bogus escrow sites, so make sure you use a licensed, reputable service. We recommend

Never accept an escrow service proposed by a buyer. If a buyer insists on using a service other than, find a new buyer.

Below is an actual fraud email:


Thanks for the email. I am interested and would be willing to buy it at that price ($3,500). I have an International shipping agent that will come pick it up from your (HOUSE) and ship to me. I will arrange for payment by sending your full name, address, state, city, ZIP code, country, telephone no./mobile no to my client in the states who is owing me the amount of ($8,000) to issue you a check for this amount, which is a refund for a cancelled order I placed with him, and being a refund the amount can only be written on a single check. I know it is more than the (car) price but after getting the check, I need you to cash it and deduct cost of the (car), then do me a favor of wiring the remaining balance to my international shipper via Western Union. I will also compensate you with ($50) for removing the advert from the net. After this is done and he gets the money, he will then pick it up from your residence and ship to me. So, confirm this and send your full name and address including phone number for mailing the check payment to you as soon as possible.

Waiting for your urgent reply,

Kind regards.


View more fraud emails received by our partner

How to Set Up a Test Drive

Can you imagine buying a car without driving it first? It may seem strange to hand your keys over to a stranger, but things should run smoothly if you follow these tips.

Meet potential buyers somewhere other than your home. When possible, bring along a friend, and make sure your family and friends know about your plans.
We strongly recommend you accompany buyers on the test drive. This gives you more time to sell the car, and it saves you the pain of watching a stranger drive away in your car. When riding along, point out all the things you love about your car.
If the buyer makes a special request to test-drive alone—and you are comfortable with that—make a copy of his or her driverís license, or at least jot down the name, address and driverís license number. Set a time limit on the test and exchange cell phone numbers just in case. Also, confirm that the driverís license info matches up with what you were told in previous conversations.
Plan a route that allows the driver to experience a variety of driving situations during the test drive. Provide the opportunity to drive on the highway and in local traffic. Let them maneuver in a parking lot.
Liability shouldnít be an issue. Many insurance policies cover other people who drive your car as long as they have your permission and have a valid driverís license. Look at your policy to make sure youíre protected. If youíre not, ask to see the buyerís proof of insurance. Make sure the buyer has full coverage, which includes collision, liability and comprehensive.

How to Secure Safe Payment

Download the Freebo Used Car Sellerís Checklist

Always be careful when accepting payments—scam artists are deceitful and good at what they do. Remember these steps to help protect yourself from scams.
Never wire money to a potential buyer—under any circumstances. If a buyer pays via check or money order, accept only the exact amount of the selling price.
Confirm with the buyerís bank that the check is valid. Look up the contact info for the bank on your own—a forged check will most likely include a phony bank address and phone number.
When possible, visit the bank with the buyer to verify the checkís authenticity. Itís also a good idea to request a cashierís check from a local branch.
Stick to your timeline—donít rush the transaction. If the bank is closed when the buyer wants to pay, hold off until you can verify the checkís validity. If possible, wait until the check clears the bank before handing over ownership of the car. How long that takes depends on your bank, but it should be less than a week.
If the buyer chooses to pay by money order, follow the safe-payment guidelines for accepting checks. Verify the name and amount with the issuing bank, and request a money order from a local bank whenever possible.
If the methods above leave you feeling uneasy, thereís always cold hard cash. Your best bet may be Itís legit and offers equal protection for buyers and sellers. If fear of fraud keeps you awake at night, is the way to go.

How to Transfer Ownership

Transferring ownership is easy, but the details vary by state. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles for location-specific details.

Make sure you have the title in hand before shoppers see your car. Youíll need to sign over the title to the new owner. If you donít know where your title is or how to get one, see Prep Your Car for Sale.
Ownership-transfer legalities vary from state to state, so get the details from your local DMV.
To avoid future liability, notify the DMV that you sold your car. States have different ways of gathering this info. Some require you to file a notice of sale after youíve signed over the title to the new owner. Make sure you research your local requirements completely and fulfill every condition.
Itís a good idea to fill out a bill of sale even though it doesnít legally transfer ownership. A bill of sale lists the carís vehicle identification number, a description of the car, the date of sale, purchase price and the names and signatures of both parties in the transaction.
Make copies of all paperwork.

Turning Over Your Car to the New Owner

Congratulations on the sale—now itís time to say goodbye to your car. Here are a few last-minute reminders.

Donít jump the gun—make sure the sale is secure. If you accepted payment via a cashierís check, follow the steps in the How to Secure Safe Payment section to ensure itís valid before signing over the title. If you used an escrow service, wait until it tells you that payment has officially been received.
If youíre dealing with an out-of-town buyer, arrange for that person to pick up the car. You could also consider using a professional delivery service. Delivery services transport cars on large hauling trucks. Prices vary depending on the distance and the carís weight, but it usually starts around $500. Work out the cost and payment issues with the buyer first. We recommend Dependable Auto Shippers.
The license plates stay with the seller—not the car—in most states. If the plates remain with the original owner in your state, remove them so you donít keep any legal ties to the car. If the plates stay with the car, you need to fill out the proper paperwork at the Department of Motor Vehicles so the plates transfer to the new owner.
Call your insurance company and remove the car from your policy.
As long as you were honest about your car during the selling process, you shouldnít be liable for anything once the sale is complete. In most states, the law assumes private-party sales carry ďas isĒ status. Still, it doesnít hurt to get that in writing from the buyer. Both parties should sign off before the transaction is complete. The bill of sale includes this agreement.
Questions about this service? Contact customer service at
Stop fraud: Find the latest info on scams at our SAFE blog.