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You Can Never Be Too Prepared When Selling Your Car Independently, Says Auto Club

There are many different ways to buy and sell a vehicle. With approximately 33 million used vehicles sold annually, people planning to upgrade their vehicle have many options for getting rid of the old one-- trade it in to a dealer, sell it private party, give it to a family member, or donate it to a charity. And while selling a vehicle independently may seem like more work, 30 percent of used vehicles in 2011 were sold by car owners directly, says the Automobile Club of Southern California.
“Selling a vehicle yourself is not difficult, but it does take research, time and effort,” says the Auto Club’s Car Buying Service Manager Dave Cavano.  “Pricing the vehicle properly and preparing it for sale are keys to quickly selling the vehicle.”
When selling your vehicle yourself, the Auto Club recommends the following:
  • Prepare Your Vehicle for Sale. Prepare your vehicle for a buyer by having it professionally detailed. Remove any personal items from your vehicle, including any stickers you have placed on the exterior. Have your vehicle inspected by a repair shop prior to the sale and ask for a detailed report, which can be shared with perspective buyers. For under $100, you can have an AAA Approved Auto Repair shop complete this task – the entire network of AAA Approved repair shops can be located by searching online at
  • Determine a Price.  Determining the appropriate selling price is a critical step to selling your vehicle quickly. Be realistic in the condition of your vehicle, very few vehicles are in “excellent” condition. Do your homework, research similar cars with similar mileage and keep a list of comparable prices from various online vehicle pricing sources so you know the market price of the vehicle you’re selling.
  • Spread the Word. Marketing your vehicle for sale is another important step to successfully selling your vehicle independently. Use today’s social media technology and online websites to let others know you are selling your vehicle.  Facebook, Twitter,,,, and eBay Motors are all great examples of electronic resources to gather pricing information. Some charge for a listing; others are free.  Multiple photos, inside and out can help support the description and features of the vehicle. Be sure to include suitable contact information and any other important details pertaining to the vehicle for sale.
  • Showing Perspective Buyers the Vehicle: Once you prepare, price and market your vehicle for sale, you should receive inquiries from potential buyers. Use common sense and caution when showing your vehicle. Meet potential buyers in a public location and do not let them test drive the vehicle by themselves. Be sure to inform a friend or a family member that you are showing the vehicle. Be sure you confirm the prospective buyer has a valid driver’s license as well as proof of automobile insurance before any test drive.  Be ready for mechanical questions, have detailed information readily available, and you may want to include a vehicle history report on your car.  Organize any repair or maintenance documents you may have to prove you have properly maintained your car.
  • Securing a Payment. Once you have found a buyer for your vehicle, AAA recommends creating a bill of sale that both parties can sign and have it notarized. Notaries can be located at a bank or any AAA branch. Always secure payment and verify the funds are in place before you transfer ownership. Options for payment include certified checks, cash or money order. AAA suggests completing a transaction at a bank or AAA branch to verify the payment is legitimate.  If a buyer is uncomfortable with any part of the agreement, be cautious and use good judgment to avoid the possibility of being scammed.  Never send or accept money through the mail or Internet and do not provide banking information or agree to wire money to a prospective buyer. 
AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at Additional information on AAA Car Buying Service is available at  You can also download the AAA Auto Buying Tools App here and through the Apple app store and access information on the go.
CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.