Best Ways to Sell Your Car Online
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More Americans are buying their cars online. This means that selling a car online — either through an online retailer like Vroom or Carvana, or through a platform like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist — can be a good option for drivers interested in selling their car outright or valuing it as a trade-in.
Selling your car online can be more convenient and flexible: You can complete the entire car-selling process, or part of it, from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. Many online car-buying sites will even come to your home to pick up the car and hand you a check on the spot.
» MORE: How much is your car worth?
How to sell your car online
Find out how much your car is worth
To do this, most online car-selling platforms require you to enter the car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number, or its license plate number, and confirm the make, model, mileage, color and operating condition.
You’ll also typically have to answer detailed questions about the car’s condition and history. Has it been in an accident or flooded? Does it have aftermarket modifications? Does it have scratches or dents? Bear in mind that online retailers' offers may not always reflect what your car is worth; it's what these particular buyers are willing to pay at that particular moment. Their algorithms are willing to pay the most for cars that are easily resold and financed.
If you get an offer of $500 for a car you believe is worth $5,000, it's that retailer's way of telling you it does not want or need your car. This may happen more frequently with older cars, high-mileage cars, cars with mechanical issues or salvage title cars. There are buyers for those cars, but they may not be, say, Carvana.
Decide whether you are trading or simply selling
Most online car buyers also sell cars directly to consumers and say their trade-in price does not differ from their purchase price.
Disclose current loans or leases
Many, but not all, online car-buying companies will buy a vehicle that you are still making payments on, and some will buy out a lease if the manufacturer allows it. Use an auto lease buyout calculator to see if the offer is fair. But if you owe more than the offer you receive, you must provide funds to make up the difference.
Provide photos of the vehicle
Alternatively, some companies may arrange to view the vehicle in person to inspect its condition. Or a company representative might wait to inspect the vehicle at the pickup or drop-off time. If the vehicle’s condition is worse than you described, the company could change its offer. Note that some buyers may not ask for this step until you have accepted an initial offer.
Online car-selling platforms
Good for selling cars of any age
Good for damaged vehicles, including motorcycles, RVs, ATVs and more
Good for trade-ins and selling cars outright
Good for vehicle pick up at no cost
Good for owners who don’t want to trade in a car, and for small commercial vehicles like business trucks and vans
Good for older used or damaged cars
Good for comparing offers from multiple dealers
» MORE: How to sell your car yourself
Alternative options for selling your car online
Shift buys (and sells) cars online. It will both pick up and deliver. Shift buys cars with loans and may make offers on leased vehicles. Offers are good for seven days, and on purchased vehicles they offer free returns for seven days. Shift can arrange financing as well. But note that Shift charges a service fee that is added to the purchase price and can be costly.
AutoNation buys cars through its extensive chain of new-car franchises but will make an offer online. You must deliver your vehicle to the store. Offers are good for seven days and 500 miles.
Kelley Blue Book arranges instant cash offers through its network of partner dealers. Information is sent to nearby dealers for bids. Unlike Kelley Blue Book's widely known estimates of values, Instant Cash Offers are an offer to purchase. Dealers are free to adjust value if vehicles do not meet descriptions. Offers are good for 7 days, and you must take the vehicle to the purchasing dealer.
What to expect if you sell your car online
After you’ve accepted an offer, a representative will email or call to arrange a time to either pick up the vehicle at your home or have you drop it off at a pickup point. In most cases, fees are minimal. Some companies may charge an administrative fee, deducted from the offer price. The seller may also be charged if they back out of the signed sale agreement.
While each company handles title and registration paperwork in its own way, expect to upload copies of your registration, title and driver’s license to get the ball rolling. Sales contracts, odometer statements and power of attorney may arrive for electronic signature or through overnight mail.
Note that most companies will hand you a payment when they take the vehicle, typically via a check or a bank draft, which can take several days to clear. Some offer payment via direct deposit or even cash. Before handing off your car, be sure to remove the license plates and clear the car of any personal items and leave only the items that came with the car when you bought it, such as the car manual, keys and car mats.
If your online offers don't meet your needs consider selling your used vehicle to other consumers via Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.