CheckDrive was created to help you understand the used car market and save you time when selling a vehicle. Although our app is launching soon, we actually don’t care if you CheckDrive to sell or buy your next car. We are here to help people who are interested in selling their own car on the open market whether using our technology or not. Our hope is that this guide creates more transparency and ease throughout your car-selling experience.

Why Sell a Car Yourself?

Selling your car in the open market can put more money in your pocket, give you confidence in buying a new car, and put control back in your hands. We have compiled three main categories you want to focus on and the best practices to follow for each. 

Steps to Selling Your Car

1. How to Make the Best Car Listing Online

  • Clean your car and remove personal items
  • Pick a plain background
  • The first photo is the most important
  • The first photo should include the front and side of the car
  • Include multiple photos and videos to accurately represent your car
  • List the make and model of your vehicle
  • Describe your car in detail
  • Use bullet points to highlight important features

2. How to Sell a Car Safely and Communicate Effectively

  • The best way to communicate to potential buyers
  • Be responsive
  • Use platforms to establish identities
  • Choose a public meeting space
  • Bring a companion to the meeting

3. How to Finalize a Used Car Sale

  • Create a Bill Of Sale (Both Parties Sign)
  • Receive Payment
  • Transfer the Title
  • Return License Plates to DMV *if applicable

How to Make the Best Car Listing  

For sale sign on the front of a car

The goal is simple, make your listing stand out with clear pictures and concise information regarding the vehicle you are selling. This results in getting more views from qualified buyers.

Capture High-Quality Images of Your Car

Before taking photos, make sure your car is as clean as possible. This includes at a minimum good detailing and clean inside and outside of the car. Be sure to remove all personal items.

After the car is clean, find an area with good daylight and a plain background. Utilizing a plain background such as a park, the edge of a mall parking lot, a generic building, etc. will keep the focus on the vehicle instead of the surroundings. Try and avoid pictures in your garage, neighborhood, businesses with signage visible, or people, pets, or random items in the background*

The first picture is the most important, many buyers never click a listing for a good car with a bad picture. What is a great first image? We recommend that the first photo listed is a photo of the front and side of the car. Stand in front of the driver’s side headlight and take a photo that includes the entire front, and driver’s side and spans from the ground just below the tires to the sky just above the roof. 

People often wonder how many photos they need. The answer is: As many as it takes to accurately represent your vehicle. 

For exterior images, take pictures from all 4 corners, each side, the front and rear, and under the hood. For Interior images, take a picture with each door open that includes the seating area, carpet, and area in front of that seat, an image with the trunk or hatch open, and most importantly a picture of all the important features, including owners books, keys, and service records (without revealing owner information).

Videos are also very effective and can encompass both condition and operation of features as well as sharing on multiple social media platforms and text and email.

Include an Accurate Description of Your Car

Start with a description that best describes the vehicle including trim levels, i.e. Toyota 4Runner (SR5 2WD, TRD 4WD, Trail AWD, Sport 2WD, Limited 4WD, etc.)


2015 Toyota 4Runner – Limited 4WD

Bullet point the most important attributes and features.

  • Sunroof
  • Navigation System
  • Leather Seating
  • JBL Premium Sound
  • Service Records Available
  • Accident-Free Ownership

How to Sell a Car Safely and Communicate Effectively

CheckDrv Application, which will offer features for sellers/buyers to communicate

The goal of communication is to remain safe and to create an easy stress-free effective line of communication between the seller and prospective buyers. When using CheckDrive to list your car, you can customize application forms for buyers to use at CheckDrive,  With our applications functions, you can customize and tailor an auto-response that indicates when you will return messages. Whether you’re using CheckDrive or not, follow these best practices for a quick, painless, and safe transaction. 

How to Communicate with Potential Buyers

Post your listing when you’re ready and available to be responsive to inquiries. Inconvenience and poor communication are one of the biggest reasons qualified buyers don’t buy from preferrable private sellers. By remaining responsive and using clear language, you’ll make the car more convenient for prospective buyers. 

Selling a Car Safety -Tips

Using email and other Direct Message platforms initially to establish both parties’ identity, intentions, and seriousness of prospects BEFORE your personal information such as location and phone numbers are shared is highly recommended. 

Once identity and dependable communication is established, meetings in a public space such as a vehicle service center to have a pre-purchase inspection performed, a bank lobby to complete a financial transaction, or the DMV office to complete a title transfer are helpful ways to prevent fraud. 

If possible, bring a friend or partner with you for safety. If you have to go alone, be sure to stay in a public area and inform someone close to you where you’re going.

How to Finalize a Used Car Sale

Exchanging of keys as a final step in the selling of a car

After a great presentation and clear communication with the eventual qualified buyer, now it is time for money and vehicle to change hands. 

Receiving Money

  • Many forms of payment are acceptable, cash being the most common in peer-to-peer. However, services like can help you if this is an out-of-state transaction.
  • In the situation there is money owed on the vehicle being sold, the seller and buyer can go to the bank where the lien is owed and pay off the amount together with the seller receiving the balance from the buyer. 

Title Transfer Tips

When the title is “in hand” this means that there is no money owed on the vehicle and that the seller has the title in their possession. Most states require that if there is money owed to a financial institution, that institution will hold on to the title until the payoff has been paid. However, you still want to do your due diligence to make sure there is not a lien on the vehicle, because that can be transferred to the new title holder.

  • Verify that the identity of the seller matches the Title and registration. 
  • If the title is in 2 names, it is possible both parties MUST sign.
  • Verify that there is or is not a lien listed on the title(meaning money owed on the vehicle), the DMV can also verify this information.
  • *If there is a lien, the payoff amount should be verified with the financial institution. ( Also, where possible completing the transaction at a branch of the institution holding the lien can help prevent issues down the road. )
  • If the vehicle has been leased, special precautions must be taken as in some cases the lessee must pay sales tax and register in their name before they are authorized to sell the vehicle. 
  • *Please consult our state-specific guide for lease buyouts.
  • Contact your insurance agent to get coverage on your new vehicle or obtain coverage from one of our partner insurance companies before taking possession or shipping.
  • The buyer should handle any shipping arrangements.

After Selling Your Car Checklist

Great Job! You sold your car, and it’s on to new memories.

There are a few questions to think about right now: 

  • Do you still need to pay off the loan? If not, do you have the title? 
  • How do you sign the title? 
  • Do you need a bill of sale? 
  • Do you know how the money/title exchange is going to roll out? 
  • Are they out of State? 
  • Have you placed insurance on your new vehicle?
  • Will you pick up the vehicle or ship it via vehicle transport?

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