Where can I sell my car?

We’ve all been in that stressful quandary: “Where can I sell my car?” (Ideally, without getting lowballed.) Normally, selling a car is a somewhat time-sensitive endeavor; most of us can’t wait weeks and weeks to have it done with. Whether you’re moving, need the extra money to use towards a new car or some other large purchase, or something else entirely, the last thing you need is a lot of hoops to jump through to make it happen. But we also want a reasonable price for it.

It all depends on what your situation is. The key thing is to first determine what you’re optimizing for: do you want the most money possible for your car and are willing to wait however long it sell it? Or is the exact price not as important as getting it out of your driveway quickly? As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. But there is a compromise solution that will let you get the best of both worlds.

Where can I sell my car for top dollar?

We hate to say it but… yes, selling your car private party (like on Craigslist) is probably the best way to get the most money possible for your car. Because you’ll have the ultimate freedom to negotiate with buyers, you can determine what you’d like to get for the car and work backward from there to set a good price. The (major) drawback, as you might be able to guess, is that there’s no guarantee it will sell at that price and how long it might take to find a buyer. If you’re determined to go this route, godspeed! (Here are our tips for making the process go as smoothly as possible.)

Where can I sell my car fast?

As the saying goes: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Sometimes it’s easiest to know you’ll walk away with cash in hand. Companies like CarMax and We Buy Any Car will reportedly send you on your way with a bank draft or check to deposit immediately. Pretty nice, huh? The only downside is you have to come to one of their locations.

Where can I do both?

Some companies will offer a nice compromise between convenience and price. Shift, for example, can complete transactions in about an hour and because it uses algorithm-based pricing, ensures you’re getting a fair market-based price for your car. Plus, you don’t ever have to leave your driveway. Not too shabby!

There you have it! The quick-and-dirty rundown of where you can sell your car and the pros and cons of each.

How to Sell a Car on Craigslist — Part II

So you’ve done the (seemingly) tough part of listing your car to sell on Craigslist. But that’s only half the battle. Here’s your guide on how to find your car a new home, quickly and easily.

Step 1: Get your affairs in Order

Make sure you have all your paperwork lined up:

  • Title (If you have a loan on the vehicle, contact your bank to notify them of the sale. You won’t be able to get the title from them if you don’t, and without the title you can’t complete a sale.)
  • Registration
  • Dealer and repair paperwork (if you have it)
  • Contract of sale (also known as Bill of Sale)

If either the title or the registration are missing, you’ll have to apply for a replacement with the DMV. Luckily, this is a common process that is inexpensive and straightforward.

Image via Alexa Mazzarello

You’ll want to have two copies of a contract of sale, which can be downloaded from the internet and printed out. Some sellers will have a printout of their car’s Carfax history report and KBB price as well to pre-empt lowballers or aggressive negotiators.

Step 2: Schedule a test drive

Privacy and safety is important for both you and the buyer. You may want pick a public and convenient place to meet buyers, like a shopping center, and arrange a time that is relatively safe (for example, a weekend morning). Some buyers and sellers also choose to ask a friend or family member to come along with them for added safety (and moral support!), so be ready for it to be a party.

PRO TIP: Make sure to remind your buyer the time, date, location, and preferred form of payment to avoid any confusion.

The Lease Buyout: Getting Out of a Car Lease

Step 3: Prep your car to sell 

A couple hours before your scheduled test drive, give your car a once-over to get rid of any bits of trash and other unsightly elements, take it for a final wash and vacuum, and then go meet your buyer.

Some sellers insist on being in the car during the test drive, but it’s probably easier and more comfortable for both you and the buyer to just take a picture of their driver’s license and let them take it for a spin themselves.

Step 4: Sell Your Car (FINALLY!) 

If you’ve done all your work, pretty soon you’ll find yourself in the closing negotiations. It’s normal for buyers to negotiate for a better price. Decide beforehand a price that you won’t go below. If a buyer does try to go lower than that number, don’t be afraid to say no. It’ll only be a matter of time before you find someone else.

Closing the sale
Once you’ve agreed on a price, it’s time for the paperwork:

  • Collect your cashier’s check (politely decline personal checks)
  • Fill out the contract of sale
  • Transfer the title to the buyer

Since every state has slightly different laws, it’s best to do a Google search for car sales in your state to check if there’s additional documentation required. And that’s it! Cash your check at the bank and pat yourself on the back.

One thing to be aware of: Getting your car listed is generally fairly quick, but the process of actually selling your car on Craigslist often takes much longer — several weekends on average. If you’re on the West Coast and want to save some time, Shift can cut it down to about an hour or less.

Whatever way you choose to go, happy selling!

Can you deduct your car on your taxes?

As a car company, we often get customers asking us, “Can you deduct your car on your taxes?They’re not alone: Americans everywhere are starting to think through their finances as tax season approaches. But most people don’t know all the ways that their cars can have an impact on their returns, or vice versa. We’ve rounded up some of the best tips you need to know to maximize your money. 

Your taxes and your [next] car

Perhaps the most obvious way to get the most out of tax season is if you receive a refund from the government after filing your return. The average American receives about $2,900 back on their annual tax refund. Compare that to the average used car price of about $20,000, and an average 12 percent down payment of $2,400. So it’s easy to see how that extra cash windfall can literally pay for a new set of wheels. It’s no wonder why TurboTax lists replacing your car as one of the best ways to spend your tax refund. Some people also use that cash to pay for service or upgrades to their current vehicle. 

One of the hidden benefits to putting a tax return towards a car’s down payment is that you can generally either afford a more expensive car (a higher-value asset). Alternatively, you can apply more money towards the down payment, which can lower your overall loan amount and APR. Keep in mind that high-quality used cars tend to retain their value better than brand new cars, so your money will go farther if you choose to buy used. 

Moreover, if you purchased or used a car for professional purposes (for example, a van for your catering business), you can also write that off on your taxes. Here’s a full rundown of the tax considerations for business vehicles.

Other Ways to Use Your Car on Your Taxes

Even if you don’t have a refund coming your way, you can still take advantage of some vehicle-related benefits come tax season.  You can deduct sales tax on a car purchase for local and state taxes when you itemize your deductions. (Given the large price tag of a new car, that’s a lot of sales tax).

On the flip side, if you live in certain states, you can also get a huge sales tax benefit by trading in a car. Those states will let you apply your trade-in credit to the total price before tax is applied, meaning it will bring down the overall taxable amount. So you’ll end up paying much less in sales tax upfront. 

Pro tip: Run the numbers first to see what your payments and APR might be when accounting for that extra cash. Better yet, get prequalified to get an accurate estimate of your monthly payments upfront. (Shift’s prequalification tool even lets you shop based on your predicted loan terms.) That’s some savvy financial planning.

Selling a Car on Craigslist? Read this

Buying or selling a car, especially a used car, is usually a pretty terrible experience. It’s inconvenient, time-consuming, and plagued with uncertainty. By and large, the predominant method for most people is still selling a car on Craigslist.

Need groceries? There’s Instacart. Need to sell your vintage jeans? threadUp. Need tickets to Kanye? StubHub’s got them. The list goes on. But when it comes to selling your beloved Prius — one of the biggest financial decisions you’ve made to date — your options are not only limited: they’re antiquated. For most people the process looks something like this: three weeks of dealing with flaky, indecisive buyers; half a dozen text messages in the middle of the night; a person over the phone asking if you’ll extend them a “personal line of credit.” In the 21st century, when there’s an app for almost everything, it’s hard to believe so many people still begrudgingly resort to selling a car on Craigslist.

That’s why we introduced the Shift selling program. It’s an industry-first resource that provides consumers a customized car valuation by considering nuanced data that isn’t used in existing pricing standards like Kelley Blue Book. Our proprietary algorithm considers everything that could impact the sale price: actual transactions, real-time demand, market dynamics and geographic variations (a car that regularly drives through the snow in Salt Lake City will likely be worth a bit less than the same car driven every day in sunny San Diego), making as-needed adjustments for mileage and demand at auction.

How to sell a car on Craigslist

So how does it work? All you have to do is enter some info about your car on our website. We’ll schedule a time to come evaluate your car in person, give you a final offer, and drive it back to our hub. There, we’ll give it a final once-over with our team of mechanics, and send payment straight to your back account. That’s it. Seriously.

Our app is just one more way that Shift is pushing the car industry forward, while staying true to our founding principle: to offer consumers exceptional service for less money, and create a higher standard for the entire industry. That’s why we’re one of the largest dealers in California, and growing.

We think the future of car ownership isn’t selling a car on Craigslist, but rather selling your car in an hour, from your home, in a safe environment, with the money sent directly to your bank. No more wasted Saturdays or late-night texts or sketchy interactions. Just peace of mind.