Best way to sell your old car?

Best way to sell your old car?

Hello all. Enjoying my first 3 wks as a proud model S owner. Quick question for the group...

What do you all think is the best way to sell your previous car? I took mine to Carmax this weekend and got such a ridiculous lowball offer that I walked out. It'd be impossible for me to just put an ad in the paper because I'd never be home or available to respond to inquiries.

When I went for my tesla test drive, the guy at the showroom told me of a service that tesla recommends for selling your old car. It sounded a lot like Carmax but this company actually comes to your house. It sounded very easy and convenient. The problem is that I can't remember the name of this company and the tesla employee won't respond to my emails. Does anybody know of this "house call" car buying service?



cfOH | September 15, 2013

I just had to go through this as well and here's my experience:
1) I posted it on Craigslist...1 response (not serious)
2) I posted it on two high-traffic enthusiast forums...3 responses (none serious)
3) I stuck FOR SALE signs in the windows of the car and parked it on the street in my neighborhood...7 responses and a sale 8 days later

It likely depends a lot on the kind of car it is, but don't overlook the age-old method of a FOR SALE sign. Oh, and you might try Auto's not free, but it's not that expensive and they do have decent traffic and searchability (plus they will come to you for taking photos).

Selling privately will require you to spend a little time. Alternately, donate it to charity for a tax deduction.

Good luck!

GDH | September 15, 2013

I have never heard of that, I have only heard or Tesla recommending Carmax. Selling yourself is really your best option for breaking even or not selling it at a loss. Any dealership or car buying service has to make money hence the low ball offer from Carmax

rjcbox | September 15, 2013

talked to a tesla rep last week and he advised as their preferred company. said they can apply that money to your down payment if you wish.

NYC Realtor | September 15, 2013

I tried Autonation and got a decent offer.
I put an ad on and got $2000 more. It was my full ask, no bargaining.

I did however take rally nice pictures and paid a CarFax for all buyers to see online, for full transparency.

Sounds like a lot of work to deal with the buyers but it wasn't. You can see in the emails or hear on the phone if people are nice/easy or difficult/strange.
People who emailed in ALL CAPS got deleted and the callers who sounded nutty or started low balling on the phone were not invited to see the car.

The only people who were finally invited bought the car.

stephen.kamichik | September 15, 2013

I sold my 1976 Datsun 280Z on KIJIJI. I asked for $12k and got $11k for it.

TikiMan | September 15, 2013

I have sold most of my past vehicles on

With that said, selling a vehicle privately (depending on where you live), can be a dificult experence (espically if you don't have a lot of leasure time, and arn't a good haggler). Also, it can be dangerous.

Otherwise, you will get the most money selling privately, because you are the one getting the commission, storing the vehicle, dealing with the DMV transfer, money transaction, etc.

Sanjuro88 | September 15, 2013

I used Carmax. I was in and out in exactly an hour with a check in my hand.

They have a program that give you non-negotiable price & they are very fair. Their offer may have been insulting to you, but I doubt you could do significantly better in a private sale.

I wouldn't bother with a car dealer, as they won't give you a good deal unless you are buying another car from them.

jim67j | September 15, 2013

Where do you live? If southern CA, I have a private broker I used that got me 20% more than Autonation offered. Very easy- she came to my office to take pictures, emailed to her dealer network and I multiple offers 48 hours later. She then arranged the transaction and came to supervise the transfer. Let me know if you want her info.

SCCRENDO | September 15, 2013

I sold 2 cars recently at Carmax. Both were around 200,000 miles with severe transmission issues and got a more than fair price on both.

christine.eichin | September 18, 2013

I tried (recommended by Tesla). They lowballed me, and told me that after they inspect the car, it would still be 3 - 5 days before they send a check. They were very vague about answering my questions, to the point I didn't feel comfortable using them. I did a comparison on, and got an instant offer $1,000+ above the offer with the exact same description of the vehicle (AND, at the KBB trade-in value of the vehicle or even better). Within 2 hours I was at one of the dealerships listed on my offer that would buy my car without me buying another one from them, and an hour later they drove me home - deal done. It was late, so the finance department couldn't cut the check, but the guy doing my paperwork is dropping the check off at my place tomorrow. It was a remarkably easy process with and just about instant.

cj | October 4, 2013

What ever you do: DO NOT USE AUTONATION!!!!

I had the WORST experience with them. They had NO CLUE what was going on. Took days for them to get back to me, they setup appointments for me to turn in car and nobody had the paperwork when I got there, they didn't do the paperwork in a timely manner after I turned my old car in, then a month after I had my MS, they called me and asked where my trade-in was!


alex_7200 | February 5, 2014

People, you should all realize that companies like Carmax, Autonation, etc. are monsters in the business and they will never seal a deal with you unless they make thousands of $$$$$. We all like to get top dollar when we sell our cars, but it never worked out with any of the big boys for me. I ended up selling my car with online service called and they paid me more money than Carmax. Never say never…

zwede | February 5, 2014

Tesla is piloting a new program where they send out your trade-in info to multiple dealers. They got me a bid which was right at top trade-in book value and I accepted it. It was nice to drive the old car to the SC and drive home in the Tesla. Hopefully they will roll out this program nationwide soon. I'm in Texas, btw.

Brit.l.T | February 5, 2014

I actually sold my Audi back to the dealership. Got 2k more then autonation

Suturecabre | February 5, 2014

My dealership offered me $3,000 LESS than the already ridiculous price Autonation offered (which was $4,000 below KBB TRADE-IN value!)....Their excuse was that they couldn't certify the car for resale with as many miles as mine had, but the mileage was already built into the quote...If I can get KBB for private party sale through Autotrader for a car with zero door dings and 3-step pro-level correction, I'll be satisfied.

Brian H | February 6, 2014

"You just got yourself and ex-prospect who will bad-mouth your outfit for life. Have a nice day."

logicalthinker | February 6, 2014

OK, there's no such thing as a free lunch. One would think people with $60,000-$100,000 to spend on a car would realize this.

If you want the most money for your car, a easy sell-your-car service will not give you as much as if you sell it privately.

Craigslist is the number one site to sell your car. No fee to post it. Yes you'll have to respond to calls or texts and tell people when and where they can view the car.

For that fairly small effort on your part, you wok be rewarded with a much higher sale price.

logicalthinker | February 6, 2014


To add to what I said, I typically sell stuff within 1 or 2 days of posting to craigslist. It's ridiculously fast.

Bill D | February 6, 2014

The Tesla-partner AutoNation quoted my Mercedes-Benz SL500 25% below the KBB "Private Sale" value. Here in Florida, the 6% sales tax is only charged on the net amount the buyer pays after trade-in, so there's a built-in 6% gain from trade-in vs self-selling (car-dealer lobby at work).

I listed it on Craigslist and got one visit with no offer, so I ran an ad on AutoTrader. The first caller came and bought it quickly and I got about 20% more than the AutoNation price even considering the FL sales tax.

My P85 is due next week, so I asked the Tesla folks at Dania Beach if I could bring them my buyer and do the transaction through them to get the FL sales tax benefit, but they said no.

BYOB (buyer) would be a very nice service for Tesla to offer (just in case any Tesla folks are tuned in here).

jajabor | February 6, 2014

I sold mine fast and got the price I wanted.

SeattleSid | February 6, 2014

To those who've used Craigslist: what have you done to be secure? I worry about stories I've heard... Did you go with the buyer on a test drive? How did you handle the money transaction? I'm considering selling my car that way when my Tesla arrives. Thanks.

AmpedRealtor | February 6, 2014

Another vote for Craigslist!

I sold my VW Jetta on Craigslist in 2007, and most recently, my Prius in September 2013. I typically will meet the interested party at my office during lunch time and let them drive the car with me in the passenger seat. If they are satisfied, we go to their bank if they are getting a loan, or to my bank if they are paying me cash or cashier's check. Then we fill out the title transfer paperwork, etc.

I never let anyone know my home address and always meet in a public place with lots of people. I also carry a concealed firearm on those occasions (I have a permit). You never know.

Mathew98 | February 6, 2014

@AR - "I also carry a concealed firearm on those occasions."

Is that how you have been selling all those houses?

jjb94941 | February 6, 2014

Based on others' experience (generally positive) with AutoNation and mine (way low bid), I suspect the outcome is largely a function of the collectability of the car one is selling. I had a 2000 Acura NSX with about 42,000 miles. AutoNation offered me $22k and I ended up selling it using an NSX specialty site ( for about $50k.

AmpedRealtor | February 6, 2014

One more thing... before I sell a car, I ask the local dealership to perform a multi-point inspection. I provide that report to the buyer as a disclosure of the vehicle's condition, and ask them to initial the report. I save a copy in my file. I do this for my protection and to offload potential liability regarding representations made about vehicle condition at the time of sale.

AmpedRealtor | February 6, 2014

@ Mathew98,

In 2008 and 2009, you almost had to hold someone at gunpoint to sign a contract here in Arizona! LOL... but in all seriousness, when I conduct business the gun stays in the car and in a secure box containing a biometric lock. I hosted a talk show in Phoenix for a couple of years that would often tackle politically polarizing issues. I received many death threats in those two years, sometimes while on the air. I remember one particular caller who described my vehicle and said he would be waiting for me in the parking lot outside of the studio. That particular call led to a police visit to the caller, who of course did not block his caller ID to the station. After the third death threat, I decided to get licensed in order to carry for self defense.

Remember, too, that I sold hundreds of foreclosures in those two years. Many of those properties were in gang territory. In the process of driving to some of these houses, I would witness drug deals going down on street corners, prostitutes flashing their boobs at me, etc. When I needed to visit those types of properties, I typically carried openly and visibly in a holster to deter anyone who might have had other ideas.

Anyways, back on topic... :)

Mathew98 | February 6, 2014

@AR - "flashing their boobs at me"

I'm sorry for the horror you experienced. It is more than justified to carry openly.

"Say, is that a gun or are you really happy to see me?"


logicalthinker | February 6, 2014

Wow. Well I certainly conceal carry, but more out of principle than day to day risk.

That being said, @AR, while it may be wise for you on the forum to claim that you leave the gun in a lockbox, it's useless there and if you have a conceal carry permit you'd be far better off carrying. When you need a gun, it's not like needing a pen "oh pardon me a second while I go get my gun since you are about to cause great bodily harm or death to me."

But as far as Craigslist, well no I just have people come to my house, which I see no extra risk in doing. So there's a car in my driveway. It's locked when I'm not using it or showing it.
My house is protected by locks, alarms, and the second amendment. I really don't worry about people seeing my house. They do anyway, all the time, when they drive by.

Money - cash is best, and once again, I'm not afraid of people. I'm an American, brave and free. I've dealt with people from all social strata and racial backgrounds and I just have a normal conversation and we negotiate the sale price and they pay me and I count it out.

And I always have two copies of a printed bill of sale identifying the make/model/VIN/purchase price and a statement that the car is sold as is with no warranty express or implied, and we both sign and date it, and the buyer gets one and I get one (I always tell them to compare the two papers so everybody knows they are identical).

I guess you could also use PayPal

w8vemba | February 6, 2014

jim67j - I'm in Southern CA and about to pull the trigger on a 85 Model S. I'd appreciate your broker's contact info. Would prefer to get a fair price on my 2005 BMW 645Ci without having to do all of the haggling. Thanks!

Marshall | January 23, 2015

Hello everyone, I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area and have found the best way to sell my old car. Going through a company called Instamotor I was able to sell my 3 series BMW well over what a dealership/carmax offered me and pocket 100% of the sale! They are free to use and their process alleviates so much of the stress of selling your used car. Instamotor keeps the sale between private parties while protecting you from scammers. They also took care of all the mechanical inspections and handled the DMV transfer paperwork. I had a great experience with them and was very impressed with the service I received. Check out their website here