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  1. #1
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    Craigslist car selling?

    I'm planning to buy a new car and am considering trying to sell my current car on Craigslist rather than trade it in to the dealer (2004 car, probably won't get a decent trade-in value from the dealer).

    What's the protocol for selling a car on CL? In particular, how does one as a seller handle a request by a potential buyer to take the car to a mechanic for an inspection? That seems like a reasonable request, but I obviously don't want the buyer to never come back with the car. What's the usual way to handle this?

    Also -- any general CL car selling LoungeWisdom to impart? I'm kind of hesitant to do the CL thing because of all the horror stories I've read.

  2. #2
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    I've had mixed results selling a car on Craigslist. Years ago, I posted my 2001 Saturn and got emails from brokers wanting to sell the car for me, but no real buyers. I ended up trading it in for cash at a dealership.

    About a year ago, I posted my 2003 Mini Cooper and got a good bite. I met the buyer at a neural location and he looked the car over. Fortunately, after talking about careers, I found out his wife worked for the same gov't agency as mine in the same building. After trust was built, he did a wire transfer on Sunday to my bank account. Once the money cleared, I met his wife at work and signed over the title. The deal was quick and drama-free.

    In your situation, I suggest on meeting the potential buyer at a public venue and ask before he/she drives off in the vehicle ask to take a picture of the individual's drivers license and insurance card. If time permits, mutually agree to a garage to inspect the car and both go over. That way, the mechanic can give both parties the assessment of the vehicle's condition and what items that need attention. This will help in the final negotiation of the agreed upon selling price.

  3. #3
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike981 View Post
    In particular, how does one as a seller handle a request by a potential buyer to take the car to a mechanic for an inspection? That seems like a reasonable request, but I obviously don't want the buyer to never come back with the car. What's the usual way to handle this?
    Ask them what mechanic. Then either arrange to go together. Or that you'll take the car and have them mechanic contact the buyer the results.

    There's other online sources too. You might get better results with one of them.
    https://www.cars.com/sell/
    https://www.kbb.com/sell-your-car/
    https://www.autotrader.com/sell-my-car/

    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    In your situation, I suggest on meeting the potential buyer at a public venue and ask before he/she drives off in the vehicle ask to take a picture of the individual's drivers license and insurance card.
    Agree, but I still wouldn't let them just drive off. You should ride along. That's how it's been done with ever car I've ever bought or sold. New or used.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I've had mixed results selling a car on Craigslist. Years ago, I posted my 2001 Saturn and got emails from brokers wanting to sell the car for me, but no real buyers. I ended up trading it in for cash at a dealership.
    Yeah, I've read stories along these lines, the end result being a lot of time spent with nothing to show for it.


    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Ask them what mechanic. Then either arrange to go together. Or that you'll take the car and have them mechanic contact the buyer the results.

    There's other online sources too. You might get better results with one of them.
    https://www.cars.com/sell/
    https://www.kbb.com/sell-your-car/
    https://www.autotrader.com/sell-my-car/

    Agree, but I still wouldn't let them just drive off. You should ride along. That's how it's been done with ever car I've ever bought or sold. New or used.
    Going along to the mechanic would be fine, but again it means more time on my part. This seems to be a theme for CL car sellers. Same with test drives -- ride along.

    I traded in my previous car to the dealer. That car also was about 14 years old at the time. Though I surely could have sold the car privately for a few hundred dollars more, it sure was nice to be over and done with it at the dealer.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike981 View Post
    Yeah, I've read stories along these lines, the end result being a lot of time spent with nothing to show for it.




    Going along to the mechanic would be fine, but again it means more time on my part. This seems to be a theme for CL car sellers. Same with test drives -- ride along.

    I traded in my previous car to the dealer. That car also was about 14 years old at the time. Though I surely could have sold the car privately for a few hundred dollars more, it sure was nice to be over and done with it at the dealer.
    I sold one vehicle on CL. Met the guy at an office park near my house. He paid cash. I signed the title over on the hood of the truck. Done and done.

  6. #6
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    I have not sold, only bought a car from CL--but spent way too much time looking there. And I have bought and sold a fair bit of construction stuff.

    I would take the horror stories with a large dose of salt--I have probably sold 20 different things on CL--and the idiot to real buyer ratio is not that high--just get ready to tell the idiots that they will have to come out to look and then make their offer, because the new thing is for idiots to phone up and when your price is X, their first question is 'Will you take 1/2 X"--so get ready to brush them off. (Same thing on eBay now--if I wanted 1/2 X that's the price I would have advertised it at. You want it cheaper, make an argument why--and 'because I deserve a bargain' is not an argument.)

    To me selling on CL is no different than when we used to sell stuff using the newspaper classifieds back in the dark ages.

    There are a lot of shysters out there, so a well written car ad with decent pictures, and accurate information--especially one that lets people know that you are the actual owner, and you have the title in hand goes a long way towards getting real buyers out.

    I think for a 2004 standard car (ie not a Porsche or BMW) I'm not sure that people would expect to do a mechanic's inspection, unless there is something troubling about what they see--IMO they are buying transportation. Test drive, maintenance records are what I would expect.

    Two thirds of the 'for sale by owners' on CL are semi-pro curbstoners, so if someone is actually looking to buy, they get pretty good at spotting those and are looking for "real" owners who are selling decent cars, IMO.
    Last edited by paredown; 3 Days Ago at 12:32 PM.
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  7. #7
    hfc
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    Sold one car, bought one car on CL and they went way smoother than more than a few of the bike transactions I've tried.

    +1 on the mechanic check, get a name, drop the car off. IMO, worth the effort to at least try. Time invested should be worth the extra 10-20% you'll get.

  8. #8
    I make Eagles fly
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    Sold every car but one on Craigslist, I would sell to some dude for trade in price before I gave a dealer a free couple grand

  9. #9
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    I've sold 4 cars on CL and bought 2. The key is just to screen buyers and sellers closely. Some cars sell easier than others, and some cars attract more tire kickers and non-serious buyers. My easiest sale was a VW GTI. Most difficult was a Mazdaspeed Miata. It's usually difficult to sell something that's worth more than about $10k. I tried to sell my Dad's 2-year old BMW for him, but never got a single serious bite.

  10. #10
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    Sold two cars on CL... Never had an issue.
    Meet buyers at an open public area, let them take it out for a test drive... took a picture of the them, the license and the the car they drive up in, including the license plate. Both cash only deals... signed titles on the spot.
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  11. #11
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    I helped a friend create the Craigslist ad with recent photos and a detailed description of a low mileage Honda Civic. Within minutes of having the ad go live the emails came pouring in. Everyone seems to be a serious buyer. The annoying ones would ask what is the lowest price that would be accepted without seeing the car.

    We received easily almost a dozen emails and it was really hard to figure out how to prioritize buyers and show cars without wasting time on no shows. I suggested we set a time starting at 9am on Saturday. Anyone who was interested in buying the car could ask for the address and come check it out, first arrival would have first option to test or buy. About 1/2 of the emails asked for the address.

    Saturday rolls around and only one person shows up. My friend goes with him for a test drive, the guy likes it and accepts the asking price. He goes to his bank and we go to get a smog certificate. Car is sold in about two hours.

    No one else shows up that Saturday to see the car. You have to figure a way to weed out the non-serious buyers.

  12. #12
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    Thanks, all. The advice is much appreciated.

  13. #13
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    Craigslist can work but be patient and prepared to deal with tire kickers. Took over 6 months to sell this '56 classic street rod to a collector in Japan.

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