Under The Hood

Selling Your Car Privately? How To Negotiate Like A Pro

1) Know what your car is worth 

The first step to maintaining leverage in your sale is knowing what your vehicle is worth. You can do this by using the free tools included on a variety of car listing sites like Auto Trader, Car Gurus, Cars.com, Edmunds, and Kelly Blue Book. 

They all work fairly similarly. For this example, we'll use Kelly Blue Book. 

Input your vehicle's year, make, model, and mileage. 

Next, select the category and style of your vehicle. 

Next, you will need to indicate whether you want the standard vehicle options to be included, or if you want to select your own options. If you know with 100% certainty that your vehicle is stock, then you can select "price with standard equipment".

If you are unsure, it's a good idea to browse through the different sections ( mechanical, interior, exterior, and packages) to confirm that no special features on your car were left out. Otherwise, your car will end up getting priced below its true value. 

Go through the list while you are next to your car, and check to see if each feature is or is not present.

Finally, you'll need to select the color and condition of your vehicle. It's okay if the paint color isn't an exact match- just get it as close as possible. As for the condition of the car, you'll be able to choose between "fair, good, very good, and excellent".

You're probably wondering, how exactly does one know the difference between these conditions? Luckily for us, KBB has included a short quiz that explains exactly what they are looking for when it comes evaluating to your vehicle's condition. We highly recommend taking it! 

And we're done! Based off this data, KBB will now give you the private party value of your car, as well as the dealer trade-in value, which will be substantially less. 

While KBB is a great tool to use, there's an even better way to find out what your car is worth. A way that is easier, AND more accurate. Just list your car on Swapmotors.com. We use the same data that KBB uses, but take it a step further by having one of our ASE certified technicians evaluate your car. 

Plus, we create a listing for you, and feature it across major listing sites so that your vehicle sells faster. We don't charge any fees, you don't have to leave your house. It's pretty much what you'd call a win-win. 

click here to get started: https://www.swapmotors.com/sell/register

2) Price above your absolute minimum. 

Once you've accessed what the acceptable range of prices are for your vehicle, you'll need to decide what the lowest number is you're willing to accept. In a negotiation, the price will only go down from the first offer, but never up. Therefore, you must never price your car at the lowest you are willing to accept. Give yourself some negotiating room. If the range of price for your car is $4,480 to $ 6,329, and you would be okay with getting $5000, price in the middle at $5,405. 

You can also price closer to the higher end of the range, but then you should be prepared to wait longer to find a buyer.  

Really it all depends on your individual situation, and how fast you need to sell your car. Regardless, we recommend that you don't reveal the timeframe in which the car needs to be sold. If the buyer realizes you need to get rid of the car right away, they will use that against you to secure a lower price. The best thing you can do is act as if you're in no rush to sell your car. 

3) Create urgency for the buyer 

Instead, you should flip the tables on the buyer and create urgency for them to go through with the sale. If you've got other offers and test drives scheduled for your vehicle, let them know about it. This leverages the psychological concept known as "social proof". As human beings, we tend to gravitate towards things that other people have already shown interest in. 

If your car has interested people lined up, it tells the buyer that your car is a great deal at the price you're selling for, and will most likely not be available on the market for very long. 

4) Be prepared 

The more you can make the sale process easy and hassle free for the buyer, the more likely they will be to want to close the deal. When the buyer comes to do a test drive, you should have title and vehicle history report ready for them to see. 

You can purchase a vehicle history report through Car fax or InstaVin, and if you sell your car through Swap Motors, we include one for free. 

The vehicle history report will verify important facts about your car like the odometer reading, any previous vehicle owners, prior junk, loss, and salvage events, and pending vehicle recalls. 

When it comes to answering questions about the condition of your car, you should always be upfront and honest. You don't have to go into detail about your cars faults, but if asked about them, tell the truth. If you don't know the answer to a particular question, it's perfectly fine to say " I don't know, but let me find that out for you". 

You want to avoid the situation of them purchasing the car, taking it to a mechanic the next day and finding out that the internal condition of your car is different than advertised. 

They will likely want to return the car, or in a worst case scenario - sue you for fraud. Both of these are situations that should be avoided at all costs, and can be prevented by simply telling the truth. 


Feeling more confident in your negotiating abilities? We hope so. Want to sell your car in the easiest manner possible, and for the best price? Click here to get started: