How To Sell A Crappy Car [10 Top-Dollar Tips]

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: September 19, 2022

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If you’re trying to sell a crappy car, you know it can be a difficult and frustrating experience. Whether you’re dealing with lowball offers or not getting any interest, finding a buyer willing to pay a fair price can be challenging.

If you’re in this situation, don’t despair!

In this guide, I’m going to cover 10 simple tips to help you sell that old clunker quickly–and for a fair price.

1. Clean It Up

If you want to sell a crappy car for as much money as possible, the very first thing you should do is clean it up.

And I’m not talking about a basic spray-down with your hose.

I’m talking about a complete detailing.

From shining the tires to scrubbing out the cupholders, the cleaner a prospective buyer feels when they climb into your car, the more money they’ll be willing to pay.

Having purchased a handful of used cars over the years, I can tell you that a dirty car is a huge turn-off for buyers. There’s nothing worse than going for a test drive in a car that makes you want to take a shower afterward.

It’s hard enough as it is to sell a crappy car. Don’t make it harder by trying to sell a dirty, crappy car.

Take the time to clean it up and make an excellent first impression.

The cleanliness of your car could be the only thing standing between you and a top-dollar sale.

Read also: Is Buying A Car With 100K Miles A Bad Idea?

2. Start With A Baseline Offer

After you finish detailing your car, it’s a good idea to get a baseline offer.

The easiest way to do this is to bring your car to a few different used car dealerships and get their best offer.

You’re not necessarily looking to sell your car to a dealership–although that might be an option down the road–but they will give you a decent idea of what your vehicle is worth in its current condition.

Keep in mind that the offer you get from a dealership will, in most cases, be lower than the amount you can get in a private sale.

However, when you factor in the convenience of this option, you may just want to go ahead with this option.

If you don’t want to go the dealership route, you can get a baseline offer from an online car purchaser like Wheelzy or Peddle. With both companies, you simply enter information about your car, and they’ll give you an instant offer.

If you accept their offer, they’ll send a representative out to your house with cash in hand to pay for and pick up your crappy car. Talk about convenience–you never even have to leave your home.

How To Sell A Crappy Car | Be The Budget

3. Invest in a Few Simple Repairs

If you can’t seem to get the price you want for your crappy car, you may have to invest in a few repairs to get it there. This might mean fixing a broken headlight, buying new tires, or getting a new muffler.

However, before spending a bunch of time and money on repairs, you should weigh the total cost of any repairs against the potential increase in value.

For example, if you spend $1,000 on repairs, will you be able to sell the car for $1,000 more?

If so, then it might be worth doing the repairs.

But if not, you’re just wasting your money and time. In this case, it would be better to drop the price slightly, which might net you a little more money than you would have made after the repairs.

Read also: Driving An Old Car: Pros And Cons

4. Emphasize The Car’s Strengths

Just because you think your car is crappy, doesn’t mean everybody else will think so, too.

As they say, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

So, when you decide to sell your car, be sure to emphasize its strengths. For example, if your car is ugly-looking but runs great, you could emphasize reliability. Or, if your car has a ton of miles on it, but the interior is still in good condition, you could focus on the ride’s comfort.

The key here is to find something–anything–that makes your car stand out from the other crappy cars on the market.

This will help increase its value in the eyes of potential buyers and make all the difference in getting your asking price.

5. Get The Word Out

Once you’ve decided to sell your crappy car, and have taken the necessary steps to prepare it for sale, it’s time to start spreading the word.

The easiest way to do this is by listing your car on an online marketplace like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Both platforms will give you access to a large audience of potential buyers; best of all, they’re both free to use.

When creating your listing, include plenty of photos of your car and a detailed description of its condition, features, and history.

You should also include your asking price in the listing. Oh, and I recommend listing it about 10% to 20% higher than your target price.

That way, you’ll have a little bit of room for negotiation.

After all, nothing makes a seller happier than feeling like they got a great deal.

6. Pre-screen Your Buyers Before Meeting Them In-Person

Unfortunately, not everyone who expresses interest in buying your car will be legitimate.

Some people might try to lowball you, while others might waste your time with no intention of ever buying the car.

To avoid dealing with these types of buyers, it’s best to make sure they have the ability to pay full price before agreeing to meet them in-person.

While you don’t want to be rude, it’s perfectly acceptable to say something along the lines of, “I will only meet with buyers who are able to pay full price. Please do not schedule a test drive unless you are willing and able to purchase the car should it suit your needs.”

Also, if you’re unwilling to negotiate your price, you should be upfront about that.

For instance, you could include “price is firm” in your listing.

7. Try Selling Your Car To Local Auto Shops And Mechanics

Auto mechanics make for some of the best potential buyers if you want to sell a crappy car as quickly as possible. Since they know how to fix old cars, many will flip them as a hobby or side business.

Of course, they’re probably not going to pay as much as a regular joe would. After all, they’ll likely identify and use every potential problem to negotiate the price.

But selling to a mechanic or auto shop can be a great option if your goal is to get rid of your car quickly.

The best part about this option is that you can walk into any auto shop in your area and ask if they (or any of their mechanics) would be interested in buying your car.

8. Target College Students

In college, I bought a run-down 12-year-old Pathfinder with 190,000 miles on it. 


Because I was a broke college student, and honestly, I was over the moon about how awesome it was!

Like I said earlier, just because you think your car is crappy, doesn’t mean everybody else will.

So, if you want to sell a crappy car fast, try parking it near a college campus with a “For Sale” sign in the window.

You might be surprised how many young people are interested in buying a so-called “crappy car.”

If your car is running well, and you’re selling it for a reasonable price, you could have it sold in no time.

9. Set The Right Price

Keeping your expectations within reason is essential if you want to sell a crappy car.

In other words, you aren’t going to get $5,000 for a car that’s worth $2,000. With so many cars for sale online, it’s easy for prospective buyers to compare your price to similar vehicles in your area. If you’re overpriced, they’re going to know.

You can use online resources like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds to find your car’s value.

These websites will give you a good idea of what your car is worth and what similar cars are selling for in your area.

Once you have a better idea of your car’s value, you can price it accordingly.

10. Sell It For Parts

If your car is truly a lost cause, you might consider selling it for parts.

Believe it or not, this might make you more money than selling your car as a whole. This is a particularly great option if your car is a discontinued model or parts are hard to come by.

Even if your car isn’t particularly rare, selling it for parts can still be a great way to make some decent change.

To do this, you can list each part individually on websites like eBay or Craigslist. You might also want to contact local auto shops and mechanics to see if they’re interested in purchasing any parts from you.

Of course, this option will be more work than simply selling your car. But if you’re patient and are willing to put in the effort, it could pay off handsomely.

How To Sell A Crappy Car: Final Thoughts

Hopefully, these tips have given you a better idea of how to sell a crappy car.

Remember, just because your car might not be worth much to you doesn’t mean it isn’t worth anything at all.

With the right approach, you should be able to find a buyer willing to give you a fair price and excited to take it off your hands!

Got any other tips on how to sell a crappy car? Be sure to drop your comments below.

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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