5 ways To Sell Your Car On Craigslist In 1 Day

A Man Cleaning His Car

5 ways To Sell Your Car On Craigslist In 1 Day

As of writing this post selling your car on craigslist in the cars for sale by owner section is still free but in the next 48 hours such will not be the case.

I have personally been posting in the cars for sale since the very early days of craigslist.

Back when you were only allowed 4 pictures per post and the only way to verify was by e-mail.

Craigslist has come a long way since those days and has practically ended the days of newspaper classified ads and for sale signs.

It has brought in a new era of selling your car but with it brought in new dangers and concerns.

Horror stories of robberies and scams has rocked the headlines of the media the last decade, sending car sellers in to a alert state when selling their vehicles, taking extra pre-cautions and triple checking every last detail so that they do not place themselves in harms way.

However as of now Craigslist is still the bench mark for selling your vehicle. It is still the go to website when you want to buy or sell a used car. In my opinion it has the most “serious” buyers and sellers then any other format. (this is the internet so serious is a term that can be used loosely sometimes)

I have sold literally hundreds of cars over the years using Craigslist in one day, It’s a very common occurrence. Obviously there is some give and take and you can’t have everything on your wish list but overall selling your car in one day on craigslist is not that uncommon.

My years as a car broker and business owner has allowed me over a decade using the mega site to compile this list. So if you’re stuck with that old car and want to make room for the new shiny one;

Here Is

The Top 5 Ways To Sell Your Car On Craigslist In One Day. 

1. Vehicle Conditioning. 

Conditioning your vehicle is a very important step for getting ready for market.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that “your vehicle must be in pristine condition on the marketplace” 

So many times I have saw that investing the money to get your car in great shape before selling does not pay off. Yes I will say it again, getting your car in great shape before selling DOES NOT PAY OFF.

This topic can create a huge post and a long debate. I am not a new comer in the car selling world, I have been doing this for the better part of my life and I have ultimately realized that painting a bumper that is chipped, spending hundreds of dollars to take off a check engine light, replacing a heater core for instance, does not always pay off.

Why Is This?

Mainly the reasoning behind this is that Craigslist loves a bargain!

People will usually scan craigslist for a typical make and model vehicle find the cheapest one and attack! 

I know it’s not the most logical reasoning but that’s how buyers work most of the time. Everyone wants a bargain, everyone wants to think they purchased a vehicle from the local idiot who didn’t know what they had.

“Oh if he only would have fixed the 02 sensors this thing would have been worth much more” 

“He didn’t even realize the AC probably just needs a charge”

This mentality is how people reason with themselves to justify buying a car.

As crazy as it may sound buyers are more weary of cars in great shape with no mechanical problems.

They feel almost like you are hiding something from them. They do not want to be had.

Every buyer I have come across on Craigslist all appreciate honestly. The more honest the better and this is not just because they respond to your good morals but a switch gets turned on that says “This person is critical over every little thing” and that is a big green light for selling your car in one day on craigslist.

People are not dumb now a days, everyone is weary of strangers. People do not like being taken advantage of

so the more everything is perfect the more car buyers tend to be suspicious.

Calculate What Your Vehicle Needs

Estimate your repair costs by visiting your local mechanic. Check the major functions, transmission, engine, check engine lights, electrical issues (etc)

Obviously no two cars are the samesic repairs, depending on the situation you might be better off pricing your vehicle $1500 less and sell to someone who can do the work themselves AS IS.

obviously no two cars are the same

A vehicle with very little resell value and the transmission does not come out of second gear is not gonna be a easy sell just by pricing it a few hundred bucks less then one a year newer with a perfectly functioning transmission.

Not many people will agree with this tactic mainly because it’s just not their personality to sell things AS IS but hear me out.

Craigslist is flooded with people repairing cars and making them in pristine condition at way above market prices. Not many sellers offer good deals with cars that need a little work. These are the cars that sell in one day on craigslist!


2. Price Accordingly 

Price to sell. We are trying to sell that car in one day remember? 

Hey, if you don’t need it gone right away shoot for the stars what’s the worst that can happen, it does not sell?

But we are trying to move that thing today!

First things first we need to see what it’s worth.

I like to visit craigslist and get some comps.

(I don’t take these numbers too serious because if they are still on craigslist the owner is probably asking too much, also a lot of cars are sold by dealerships who offer financing and that’s more retail then a private party sell which is the kind we are talking about.)

I always try and have the lowest comparable  on craigslist.

A vehicle in similar condition as mine with similar mileage I like to price at least $300 less then his if I am looking to sell it quick.

Think about it if you see two Toyota Camrys in the same town with similar mileage and condition and one is prices less which one are you gonna contact first? Exactly. 

You can use some online tools like Kelly blue book to price your vehicle.

I have a whole article i have written about KBB and all the good and bad that comes along with using them you can check it out by clicking here

What I like about Kelly Blue Book is that they give you many different price variables. They give a retail price, private party value and trade in.

Also it really is the bench mark that people swear by. If I had a dollar every time someone brought up the KBB price. It’s almost set in stone to some novices.

One thing I do not like about Kelly Blue Book now a days is that they really started gearing toward buying your car, which is ok I run two cash for car companies myself, but the issue is they are playing with car values so much lately.

They truly are giving people such low values for their cars with a “Cash Now” option. I can’t imagine how many people are shocked by the values they present and not realizing it’s just a tactic to buy their car at a insanely low price.

Ive been in the business for years I understand the buy low sell high mentality but representing as “This is all your car is worth no matter who you sell it to” is not a good look. 

My companies exist because people do not want to put forth the effort in to doing it themselves, they would rather visit us and take the easy way out, they know they are going to be receiving less, it’s common sense we need to make profit, what you get in return is a fast one day sell with cash and a vehicle that is sold as is.

The First Day Is Critical. 

 I recommend posting in the evenings between 4-6 pm on weekdays or early morning between 7-9 am on weekends

This is usually when I receive the most response.

I would typically like to receive between 3-10 inquiries per day if I’m looking for a one day sale on craigslist. 

Any less and I am not priced accordingly any more and I’ve probably screwed the pooch and priced too low or was not accurate with my description, more is obviously better for a quick sale.

If your not receiving the response you want in the first two days I would reevaluate my post and/or pricing.


Pictures Of The Vehicle. 

The photos you choose are critical it’s the first thing people are going to want to see. The more the better.

Much like the accurate description you should take accurate photos, buyers are not just going to dip in there pockets and pay you because you took some good pics on a HD camera phone with the best angles that hide the flaws in your vehicle.

I try and take photos of all the flaws even if they are minor and not important.

Again we are trying to give the impression that we care about every little detail, this once again gives off the vibe like they are getting a bargain and you are critical about everything, doing the opposite and hiding things in your ad gives the other vibe like you are trying to take advantage.

Let buyers think they are getting a bargain because in reality they are, you’re looking for a quick sale and move on and this tactic lets them know this.

I cannot stress enough the importance of not hiding flaws in your photos.

You should also spring for a good cleaning or detail for your photos the day you decide to take the pics. Having junk in your car, strange smells or dirt on the body is a turn off, it’s worth the investment, take the time and clean the vehicle thoroughly before posting.

Proper photos should include

at least 6 photos of the exterior from all angles

at least 3 photos of interior including dash, gauges and mileage on odometer 

a basic photo of stacked maintenance records (personal info should be blocked out) 

window sticker if purchased new. 

If pricing your vehicle below KBB private party value you can include a screenshot. 


Selling Yourself 

90% of buyers evaluate the seller as well as the car. Buyers are looking for honest people who are not hiding major issues with the car. If you don’t know every detail or issue with the car responding “I don’t know” is much better then getting caught in a lie.

A buyer will wonder if you’re are giving false information about one thing what else are you giving false information about.

Having small talk in between speaking about the vehicle in question also builds rapport, try to find something you have in common with the buyer shows you’re just a regular guy and not a con artist.

I usually ask potential buyers “if the car is for them or someone else” or “ is this for personal use or do you flip cars?.”

Complementing the car they arrived in is also a good idea just to get things moving in the right direction.

Other good breaks in the actions can include:

  • Telling a short story of a recent vacation.
  • Your Childs sporting event
  • A funny story when you purchased something through craigslist 
  • How your wife never lets you drive the car because she loves it.

Conversation such as these really shows you are a innocent seller and eases the tension of a awkward first meeting.

The first meeting between buyers and sellers through craigslist can sometimes be very confrontational, it’s a struggle for control sometimes that can be very uncomfortable.

The buyer is trying to let you know they have a set budget and the car needs X amount of dollars (even if it does not need what they are trying to tell you it needs) and the seller is trying to create a sense of urgency and firmness with the price.

Try and take a relaxed approach, if they do not buy it it’s no big deal, you just want to work with someone who wants the car and will be happy with it.

Some sellers try and sell the car a little too hard, explaining every benefit they will love once they purchase it,  for me it’s a turn off I don’t like being pressured in to buying situations, I feel more urgency when the seller is relaxed with a take it or leave it approach.

Telling potential buyers how many responses you’ve received and when your next viewing appointment is scheduled Is a nice way of saying you have other options and creates a sense of urgency. 

Just do not go in to a used car dealer attitude and describe what the wind in the hair will feel like with the top down and the great feeling of the V8 engine when you push the pedal down. People are not dumb they know you are overplaying your part.

Be yourself, relaxed and convey you have plenty of options and are not desperate.

When negotiating price I try and get a feel if they are ready to pay in full for the car or at least a non-refundable deposit

Many buyers will sit there for 20 minutes negotiating price with no intention of paying a dollar on the spot.

I usually cut this down by stating

“If I say yes to your offer, what happens next?” 

This usually surprises people and they will ask “what do you mean?” I say “Well if I accept your offer will you pay now?” If they say yes you have a legitimate offer that you can either accept or at least make a counter offer knowing the have the funds and are ready to go,

If they say

“well I have a few more to look at” I would respond with “well there is no real reason to talk about price if you are not ready to buy yet”

This is a very strong statement that allows you to know the seriousness of your buyer in less then 20 seconds. I honestly use this method in every car I sell. It cuts out so much BS and time and allows you to move on to the next buyer.

75% of real buyers will have cash on them or at least a deposit on the spot. It’s a very rare occasion for me when a potential buyer leaves my vehicle without any money exchange and comes back another time to buy it. 

No matter how interested they may seem usually once they leave the premises there is no return. 

I even get this when people say they are going to the bank and will be right back, most of the time they talk themselves out of it or was never interested in the first place. 


Closing The Deal 

So you negotiated price, everyone is happy what happens next?

Sadly sometimes things still do not work out even after the price negotiation.

I do not recommend accepting any payment aside from cash unless you are able to hold the vehicle and title until the funds clear. 

All the things that can happen by not accepting cash is another topic, (but if you would like to read my other article “Protect yourself from Craigslist” click here  and read some great tips about safety when selling your car.)

I would ask the seller for cash or a cashier check and in the instance of cashier’s check I would go to the bank with the buyer just to ensure it’s a good check and it can be cashed right there and then.

This is the most important detail in ensuring your protected as a seller. If something goes wrong during the time the check clears you can be out a car, a title and money and it then becomes a civil suit and that is if the guy hasn’t totally disappeared by now.

I also recommend purchasing a counterfeit bill marker. I have been burned by fake bills before and will never make that mistake again. You can pick some up at your local office supply store and they cost about $10 for a pack of three. 

You can use a standard bill of sale that states the buyers name and address along with the details of the vehicle including; year, make, model and vin number along with the very clear statement SOLD AS IS.

When filling out the bill of sale ask the buyer for his or her drivers license because it will be easier to jot down the info.

This is dual purpose, it is easier to write their info down this way but I also want to see if there is any hesitation when showing their ID and while you have it you can take a quick photo with your camera phone given their permission of course.

It’s better to have more information about the buyer then none.

Remember until they transfer over the title in their name the vehicle is still yours! You are the responsible party God forbid anything happens. 

Once the payment has been made, the title has been transferred and your plates have been removed you should be good to go.

So Here is your top 5 ways to sell your car on craigslist in one day.

Keep in mind it typically comes down to resell value of the car in question, condition and the price your asking. These factors along with the tips in this blog should really help selling it quickly.

Be realistic and don’t be afraid to give a good deal if you are in a desperate situation.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. 

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