How Do I Contact a Buyer for My Used Car?

202207-how-do-i-contact-a-buyer-for-used-car illustration by Paul Dolan

The process of selling a car privately can be overwhelming: setting the list price, creating an ad, communicating with potential buyers, going on test drives and closing the deal. While placing a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window and calling it a day might be less work, it’s also likely to be less efficient. Online car selling tools like’s sell-it-yourself option help get more eyes on your vehicle, which should result in a faster sale. When you find a message from a potential buyer in your inbox, your communication strategy can make or break the sale. Follow the tips below to improve your odds of a smooth transaction.

Related: Prepare to Sell

If you receive an email or voicemail from a potential buyer, reply promptly; the shopper was interested enough to contact you, but their interest may wane  — or they may find a better car — if you don’t reply within 24 to 48 hours.

  • During the initial exchange, get the prospective buyer’s full name, email address and phone number; this will help you verify their identity. Speak with the buyer over the phone, and beware of red flags like shoppers who only want to email or text, or claim they reside overseas.
  • Treat your initial contact as a marketing opportunity. Pitch the car’s key selling points over the phone or via email, but don’t exaggerate.
  • Be honest and direct if the buyer asks tough questions about your car. This will ultimately save you time by narrowing down leads to the most interested buyers. In addition, honesty builds credibility — nobody expects a used car to be perfect, but they do want to know about problem areas.
  • Encourage the potential buyer to see and test-drive the vehicle. Arrange a meeting point or test drive for the near future and make yourself available at the buyer’s convenience, if possible.
  • After the phone discussion, use a follow-up email to further confirm the buyer’s identity, and be wary if the information provided doesn’t check out.
  • Before meeting the potential buyer in person, determine a public location for the test drive. Also have a preplanned drive route ready, and gather all the paperwork in case the shopper is ready to buy that day.

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