For me, the holiday season gives me some time to dabble in a rather strange addiction – searching for used cars. I give myself challenges: rarest car under $15000; fastest car under $5000; most pristine Japanese car from the 1980s; etc. 

It rarely costs me money, but occasionally I can’t resist – I have owned over 40 cars and motorcycles over the last twenty years or so. What this hobby does give me though, is a fine appreciation of what can help sell your car. Here are my top 3 hints and tips for selling your car online.

1. Trust. 

When you are selling your car online you are really trying to establish a degree of trust between yourself and the buyer. The very best way to build trust is with honesty – offer the car at an honest price and provide an honest description. 

Pricing is tricky. I know you want to maximise the amount of money you are going to get, but no one is going to pay over the odds for your car. Seriously, thinking someone is going to pay $55k for your Audi Fox is lunacy. I’m sure that the seller would love to get $55k for it, but it’s never going to happen.

A far better strategy is working out your bottom line first. What is the figure you are prepared to let your car go for? Say, someone knocks on the door and says, “I want to buy your car.” What is the absolute minimum amount you would let it go for? This is your bottom line. From here, add on the price of the advertisement and a little bit of wriggle room. This figure should match what you are generally seeing others selling your same make and model for. 

The description you provide should be extensive. When I’m looking online, I want to know the good, the bad and the ugly about your car. If you have cut corners with the servicing, parked it under a tree and washed it once in the past seven years DO NOT expect to get top dollar. Buyers are rarely stupid – you will just end up wasting time with people who don’t want to buy your junk. You’ll call them ‘tyre kickers’. They’ll call you a ‘wanker’. I’ve got no problems buying a rough diamond, but I need to know that BEFORE I come and look at the car and this MUST be reflected in the price. 

If you have looked after your car you can expect to be rewarded with a higher price. Tell me about the service history. Provide photographs of the service receipts. Explain how ‘Ron’s El Cheapo Car Repairs’ is the name used by your mechanic of thirty years, who always shows you the parts they have replaced and has fifty years experience working on your type of car. His company may sound dodgy, but ultimately his service is much better than that provided by the first year apprentice at the dealership.

I always take the time to write a really good description as I would much rather 1000 people look at my ad and one buyer phone me then 1000 people phone me and one buyer chose someone else’s car.

A good example for a rare car looks like this…

A poor example looks like this…

2. Photos. 

You don’t need to be Ken Duncan to take a decent photo of your car. Bright daylight and three quarter angles are best. Take close ups of any damage. Snap pics of the service booklet and any receipts you have. 

This guy has chosen an unusual path when photographing his car. Illuminated by the flash of the phone, it is difficult to even see the car. Luckily, the interior shots are better – if you look closely you can even see some pubes near the gear change!

Which brings me to my final point; presentation. 

3. Clean it

Admittedly, I am a bit of a clean freak, but no one in their right mind is going to buy your dirty car, you filthy, filthy pig. Now, it’s true that it is hard to polish a turd and if it is indeed a turd that you are trying to sell the only real way forward is in the price. If you make it cheap enough, someone will buy it. 

If you are, however, selling a half decent car a little bit of elbow grease can produce some stunning results for not a whole lot of cash. Budget at least a full day and around $100 on the project. Get busy on YouTube and brush up on the tricks and tips of the professionals. Speaking of professionals, if you are time poor or lacking confidence, leave it to the pros – with many modern finishes it is easy to do damage. 

If you’re game, check out:

The guys at Stauffer Garage detail an 85000 mile Ferrari 488.

Watching The Detail Geek is like Dr Pimple Popper for revheads. He tackles some truly disgusting cars.

Larry Kosilla’s channel is one of the best.

Not only does he give detailing tips and hints but he shows us these techniques as he cleans genuine barn find classics. How about a Corvette Stingray’s first wash in over 30 years? Want to know how to polish the composite on a Ferrari F40? Need to see the best way to detail your Lexus LFA? This is your channel!