How to Sell Your Car on Craigslist: The Ultimate Guide

How to Sell Your Car on Craigslist

If you’re one of the thousands of people out there with a car on their hands and no idea what to do with it, you’re far from alone. After all,  your car probably isn’t going to be eligible for a trade-in at your local auto dealer. Most people wind up contacting one of the auto junk yards in their area and arranging to have the car taken off of their hands for cash so they don’t have to worry about it anymore. However, some choose to list it on Craigslist and see if they can get a little more out of it.

While a car may be nothing but a hunk of metal and parts to you, it might be worth its weight in gold to someone else. After all, there are hobbyists that specialize in rehabilitating junk cars and making them good as new again. Others might be interested in taking your old car apart and making use of its parts or recycling some of the scrap metal. In fact, junk cars are worth so much to certain people that they’re willing to pay excellent money for options that fit what they’re looking for – up to $1000 and beyond in some cases.

Best of all, your current neighborhood very likely contains a person or to that would love to take your old car off of your hands. The key to connecting with them on your own terms is leveraging the power of Craigslist.

Craigslist is so much more than just an online alternative to the classified print ads you might be used to. It’s currently the first place locals go when they’re looking to buy or sell just about anything, so it’s worth embracing if you have a junk car you’d like to get rid of. You just have to know how to sell a car on Craigslist.

We specialize in paying cash for cars across America, but every day - every hour even, we get calls from people who are not satisfied with what we are able to pay for their junk car.  We then recommend them to Craigslist.

Must Read Articles to Get Started on Selling Your Car on Craigslist

The Perfect Ad to Sell Your Car on Craigslist

Placing the Perfect Craigslist Ad for Your Car

Of course, you won’t be the only person trying to sell car on Craigslist. You’ll need to know how to make sure your ad stands out in all the right ways, the better to increase the chances of the right buyer seeing and paying attention to your car. Here we’ll address everything you need to know about successfully selling a car on Craigslist. You’ll be closing that sale in no time!

1. Before You Post Make Sure You Have What's Needed!

You must have the title, damage disclosure agreement (required in some states) and a bill of sale, which we'd recommend so that everything is documented.

2. Assess the Value of Your Car

In order to find the right buyer for your car, you’ll need some definitive knowledge in regards to what you’re really dealing with first. That means finding out what your junk car is really worth, as opposed to going on what you think it’s worth.

Start by assessing any known damage to your car – parts that will need replacing, any superficial dings, and so forth. You’ll also want to determine the actual Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle you’re trying to sell. You will be asked questions about the condition of your car by interested buyers on Craigslist, so the more information you’re able to give, the more confidence you’ll be able to inspire in interested parties.

Although the value attached to a car may vary, cars that actually run are worth significantly more than cars that don’t. Neither you nor the buyer will have to worry about pick-up fees for a non-running junk car if it actually runs. A working engine also represents a great place to start for someone looking to refurbish an automobile as well.

3. Take Some Photos

Craigslist ads do significantly better when they feature photos of the product being sold. That said, start the process of putting together your ad by taking multiple photographs your junk car so that potential buyers will know what they’re getting.

Clean the car up a bit first, if at all possible. Even a junk car will seem more appealing when it’s clean, shiny, and looking its best. Take photos from multiple angles as well – back, front, and from either side. Craigslist allows for the uploading of up to four photographs of a given item for sale. However, if for any reason you would like to show more photos than that, you can upload additional photos to external hosting sites like Photobucket and integrate them into your ad using simple HTML code. Pictures can really help sell your car on Craigslist.

4. Gather All Relevant Information

The more information you can give potential buyers in regards to your junk car, the better. Once you’ve taken plenty of pictures of your car, make a list of details people might be interested in. These include but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Make, model, and year of the automobile.
  • Any relevant working features in regards to the car that might be of interest to a buyer (such as automatic locks, upgrades you may have made to the engine, and so forth).
  • Any and all damages as assessed above including dents, dings, scratches, and info in regards to which parts of the car do and don’t work.

The more information you can provide, the more confidence you’ll instill in those that might be interested in purchasing your car.


Now It's Time to Create a Craigslist Account and Post Your Car For Sale

1. Create an Account (if already have one skip to the next step)

If you aren’t already familiar with Craigslist, then you’ll have the choice of setting up an account for continuous use or making a one-time post. Which option is best is completely up to you. However, many people find it beneficial to go ahead and set up a running account right from the get-go. When you have an account, you’re able to make edits and renewals in regards to your post when and if you need to.

It's pretty easy. Enter your email then hit create account. From there you will get a validation email in the email that you used. You'll have to check that to verify your email.


Upon clicking on the link you will have to create and verify a password. You are going to want to write this down so you don't forget it.

Craigslist Account Created - Now Sell Your Car
After creating a password you should see this, or something similar (Craigslist may change it up a little to look different but it will be similar).

Click "return to your account" and accept the terms and conditions of Craigslist.  Now get to posting!

2. Create a New Post

The next item of business will be to actually compose your post. Start by clicking “new posting” (once you’ve logged into your account, if you have one) and choosing the location and/or city where you’d like your post to appear. Choose “for sale by owner” and then select "cars & trucks by owner". You can choose to post your ad to your neighborhood, your city, or all surrounding areas. It all depends on how far you’d like your reach to extend.

craigslist-new-post for-sale-by-owner-craigslist-cars

3. Writing an Effective Post


How you compose your ad does make a difference. This is your chance to really get instant junk car quote to buyers that might be interested. That said, it’s important to make sure you give your ad enough thought.

  • Include a Clear Headline: Most Craigslist users tend to skim the many listings included under a specific category looking for keywords related to what they’re looking for. That said, it pays to make sure your headline is clear and specific. Use descriptive but simple language to describe your car. Avoid using capital letters (which come across as attempts to “scream” at your potential buyer). Don’t use tacky symbols or net-speech either.
  • Use Short Paragraphs: Longer paragraphs or “walls of text” can feel daunting to prospective buyers. Instead, stick to short, concise paragraphs that are limited to two or three sentences apiece. This makes your ad easier to skim, as well as to consume in full.
  • Be Creative and Informative: A car – especially a junk car – is the type of item people will want plenty of information about before they make a decision. Be concise but exhaustive when it comes to describing your car. List color, condition, history, and so forth. Blue Book information about your car’s value should also be included here. The more informative you are, the more trust you’ll gain from your readers.
  • Be Honest: Never invent information about your junk car in order to make it seem more desirable than it really is. Modern consumers appreciate honesty, especially on forums like Craigslist. If certain parts are broken or missing, be sure to include that information. In the end, it will make you look better in the eyes of your prospective buyers – especially when they arrive to look at your car and see that it’s actually exactly as advertised.
  • Don’t Forget Your Photos: Remember those awesome photos you took of your nice, clean car before? Don’t forget to include those. Everyone wants to see photos of a product before they buy, especially in regards to an item like a car.

4. Pricing and Selling Your Item

When it comes to forums like Craigslist, it’s important to understand right out of the gate that a prospective buyer is going to want to negotiate and barter a bit before deciding on a final price. That said, you’ll want to see what cars similar to yours are going for and not just on Craigslist. Check out alternative forums like eBay as well.

Go into the selling process expecting to dicker a little. That is, price your item reasonably, but higher than you need to sell it for. Decide up front what your lowest acceptable selling price is and stick to your guns. Don’t simply sell to the first really interested party that asks you about your car either. Make sure you speak to all of your would-be buyers and do whatever’s necessary to make sure you get a fair price for your car.

5. Pitfalls to Watch Out For

No matter how badly you want to sell your car on Craigslist and get your car off of your hands, it’s important to make sure that you don’t compromise your safety or financial security in order to do so. Take note of the following and make sure that you’re safe and smart in all your dealings with prospective buyers.

    • Guard Your Personal Information: When setting up your Craigslist ad, consider using the site’s proxy option instead of giving readers access to your real e-mail and actual contact information. This will help keep your personal info out of the hands of scam artists and spammers. Avoid giving out any other personal info to strangers you may meet on Craigslist as well.
    • Accept Cash Only: When dealing with Craigslist buyers, make sure you’re smart about the payment options you accept. Whenever possible, stick to cash only. Never accept checks and definitely inspect the money you receive to make sure that it’s not counterfeit before you finalize a deal. Alternatively, you may want to look into alternative ways to accept payment on the spot, such as PayPal. PayPal is especially helpful if the person prefers to pay via credit card, rather than by cash.
    • Be Safe About Meetings: Although Craigslist is definitely a great avenue by which you connect with solid buyers, it’s still important to consider your own personal safety as well. When it comes to a larger item like a junk car, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to bring it to an outside location for a buyer to look at. They’ll probably be visiting you at home, so you’ll want to keep that in mind. The safest way to meet with buyers is to arrange to have someone else around when they come to look at your car. You can choose anyone – a roommate, a parent, or even a friend. (If you’re a woman meeting a male buyer, this safety precaution is doubly important. Try to make sure the person present is male, if at all possible.) This helps reduce the chances of anything untoward happening while the buyer is on the premises.
    • Watch out for forged checks

- Scammers are writing forged checks when they are buying cars on Craigslist as noted in a post by Richard Read. Look out!


Sit back and wait for the calls for your car for sale on Craigslist

After you are all set with your vehicle, post it and go through the verification process if Craigslist makes you (same as when you created an account, you may have to click a link in an email they send you for your post to go live).


At the end of the day, selling your car is not more important than your safety, your family’s safety, or your financial security. Always trust your instincts, as well as the instincts of other people you know have your best interests in mind. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  Hopefully this was helpful in learning how to sell your car on Craigslist.

And if you decide that selling your car on Craigslist isn't for you you can always choose a junk yard that pays cash for cars.  Auto junk yards are more likely to have a need for the parts and vehicles. Although you will be quoted based on the weight and the condition, you will be paid accordingly for your car.

We'd like to hear from you! Do you have experience selling your car, whether junk car or not on Craigslist? If so let us know if this was of help or what recommendations you have to add in the comments below.

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