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Craigslist Washington Cars For Sale

Craigslist Washington Cars For Sale
January 20, 2024
19 min

Selling a car and finding a new vehicle are regular activities for many people. However, using classified websites like Craigslist to list or find automobiles for sale can be risky if not done right, as no central authority oversees the transaction. This guide will explain the proper steps on how to list on Craigslist to sell or buy a pre-owned automobile through Craigslist.

Whether you are a first-time seller hoping to get top dollar for your dependable sedan or an experienced car buyer searching for a good deal on a truck, listing or locating vehicles on Craigslist does require understanding some essential basics. So let’s see how it’s done:

Comparing Costs Craigslist Washington Cars for Sale With Other Platforms:

To keep the comparison fair, we’ll take listing prices of cars from Washington as local markets can change prices. So let’s keep the location, car model, and year the same and then see how much of a difference there is:

Craigslist2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4x4 4WD72,337$23,100
eBay Motors2015 Jeep Wrangler UNLIMITED RUBICON 4X475,981$27,995
Edmunds2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport Convertible SUV79,146$21,490
Carvana2015 Jeep Wrangler70,059$23,990

As you can see from the table, Edmunds has a cheaper offer, with just 7,000 more miles on the vehicle. This is an example for just one and 4 platforms.

There are more than 10 platforms online and thousands of different cars for sale. So don’t rely just on Craigslist, as getting offers from other platforms might be a smart choice.

10 Steps To Selling Your Car on Craigslist

Steps To Selling Your Car on Craigslist

Clean and repair your car as best you can

First impressions are crucial when attracting buyers, so spend time prepping your car. A few hours of cleaning can go a long way:

  • Vacuum and wash the interior and exterior to remove dirt or debris before photographing.
  • Detail the upholstery and dash, trim, and fix any rips or stains inside the car to showcase its condition.
  • Check fluids, tires, and brakes and perform essential maintenance so test drives go smoothly.
  • Use wax and polish to buff out exterior scratches, chips, or dents and make the paint shine.
  • Tend to minor repairs like lights or stereo issues - bigger ones may deter potential buyers.

Estimate your car’s value.

Gauging a fair price starts with research. Investigate what similar vehicles are listed for:

Sites like Kelley Blue Book or NADAProvides make/model valuations based on factors like mileage and condition.
AutoTrader or other classified sitesCheck recently sold ads to see prices others received - aim for around average retail.
Current automotive market trendsSupply and demand shifts can impact prices, so compare against averages.

Note private party/retail values as your target range. Be open to reasonable offers that meet your needs.

Gather the car paperwork.

Collecting important ownership documents builds buyer confidence in the vehicle’s history:

  1. Make copies of titles, receipts, and service records to disclose without losing original docs.
  2. Obtain a vehicle history report like CarFax to disclose accidents upfront.
  3. Prepare an organized folder with 5-10 key paperwork pieces for easy sharing.

Photograph Your Vehicle From Different Angles in Daylight

Invest in quality photos - they may get dozens of views online and determine a potential buyer’s first impression:

  • Shoot outside on a sunny day for flattering natural light.
  • Capture the car from all angles, including interior shots of features.
  • Use a digital SLR or phone in a high setting for sharp close-ups.
  • Select 5-10 nicely composed photos to showcase the vehicle for sale.

Good listing photos increase clicks and sell your car faster than a basic Craigslist Washington cars for sale post with just one or two low-quality images.

Write a Clear Ad With All The Relevant Details

It is essential to include all critical details about the vehicle up front in the ad to attract interested buyers. Some things to mention include:

Year, make, and model of the vehicleProvides basic information for buyers to determine if the vehicle fits their needs
Mileage and VINTransparency about usage and ability to run a basic history report
Exterior and interior colors, optional featuresIt helps buyers visualize the vehicle and know what they are getting
Any aftermarket parts or modificationsFull disclosure of changes from original vehicle details buyers should know about
Existing flaws, repairs, or issuesAvoids surprises during viewing and builds trust with upfront honesty
Benefits like low mileage or a clean historyHighlights value and why it is a good deal versus similar vehicles for sale

Meet Potential Buyers to Show The Car

When meeting with interested buyers to show the vehicle, take the following safety precautions:

  • Only meet during daylight hours and in public, well-lit places like mechanic shop lots for everyone’s security
  • Have all paperwork and keys organized so you’re prepared if buyers want to review documents or take a test drive
  • Allow a brief test drive so buyers can experience driving it before making an offer
  • Answer questions fully and truthfully to avoid any confusion down the line
  • Give space, but stay alert during solo vehicle inspections - your safety comes first
  • End any meetings that seem unsafe or odd based on intuition

Determine a Price – Be Prepared to Negotiate

When setting your asking price, take the following steps:

  1. Thoroughly research sale prices of comparable vehicles recently sold locally versus solely relying on estimated book value, which may not reflect current market prices
  2. Consider your schedule and needs - do you need a fast sale versus getting the maximum price?
  3. Establish a firm asking price 10-20% above your target sale figure to allow for negotiation.
  4. Counter reasonable offers below your price versus getting insulted by lowballs - know when to walk away from an unacceptable minimum price.
  5. Consider contingencies like agreeing to complete pending repairs identified in a buyer inspection.

Be prepared to be flexible in your price negotiations. Researching recent sale prices of comparable cars in your local area, like if you’re in the Big Apple state, then on Craigslist searching for recent ads posted for cars and trucks by owners in New York, is vital in determining a competitive asking price and knowing what is a fair minimum sale value.

Draft a Bill of Sale

Creating a bill of sale is essential to document the exchange and protect both parties. The bill of sale should include:

Names and contact information of buyer and sellerIdentifies parties involved in the sale
VIN, year, make, and model of vehicle with the agreed sale priceClearly outlines details of the car being sold
“As-is” provision with specifics on any repairsManages expectations on vehicle condition
Date of sale and signatures of all partiesDocuments completion of the sale
Note on safety inspections and lack of warrantyInforms buyer of post-sale testing requirements
Space for plates/registration (if changing hands on the same day)Records license/title transfer details

Notify Your Insurance and DMV

Responsible vehicle transfers require notifying the relevant agencies:

  1. Contact your insurer, like Geico, within days to remove the vehicle from your active policy
  2. Submit release of liability form to DMV with new owner’s name for vehicle records
  3. Provide DMV forms to the new owner to complete registration in their name and ensure proper title exchange
  4. Keep all sale records like dates and buyer info in case any issues arise later needing documentation

Proper listing of your used car for sale on Craigslist, drafting a bill of sale, and notifying the requisite agencies as outlined above will help ensure a smooth and legitimate transaction.

Buying a Car on Craigslist: A Step-by-Step Guide

This guide will walk you through the process.

Step 1: Finding cars for sale on Craigslist

You’ll need to conduct targeted searches through Craigslist to find vehicles for sale locally. Here are a few tips:

Search CriteriaDetails
Make and ModelEnter the specific make, model, and year range you are looking for, such as “2010-2012 Honda Civic”. This will return the most relevant results.
LocationYou can search within a particular city or zip code. Consider expanding to surrounding areas by adjusting the search radius if a few listings appear for your desired criteria near you.
Price RangeSpecifying a minimum and maximum price, such as “$5,000-$8,000”, helps filter listings that are likely out of your budget.

In addition to searching through current listings, it’s a good idea to save searches you create so that Craigslist can notify you by email whenever a new ad matching your criteria is posted. This is helpful because popular vehicles in good condition often remain listed for a few days before being sold. You’ll want to check for new listings daily.

Browsing through recently posted ads is another method to scan for potential vehicles to consider purchasing. Some sellers aim to get their listings viewed quickly by posting within the last 24 hours. Setting up Craigslist alert notifications on your phone is a convenient way to watch for newly published cars that could meet your needs without much hassle.

With a bit of perseverance searching Craigslist using targeted criteria like make, model, location, and price, you’ll surely come across several car leads to examine more closely. Now, it’s time to start evaluating individual listings.

Steps to Buying a Car on Craigslist

Step 2: Examine the listing carefully

Thoroughly inspecting Craigslist car ads is important before contacting sellers. Here are some important details to focus on:

  • Mileage - High mileage could indicate more wear and tear issues down the road. Consider if the reported number aligns with the vehicle’s age.
  • Service records - Maintaining proper service intervals helps ensure major mechanical problems don’t arise. Ask if records can be reviewed.
  • Safety checks - Was a vehicle history report run to check for accidents or recalls? Request a free Carfax or AutoCheck report.
  • Body condition - Inspect photos closely for dents, scratches, or rust. Ask to see undercarriage images if not provided.
  • Fluids - When did the transmission, brake, and coolant fluid last change? Signs of neglect could equal future expensive repairs.
  • Tires - What tread depth remains? Will new tires soon be needed, adding to purchase costs?

The goal in scrutinizing listings is to identify red flags like undisclosed damage, lack of maintenance documentation, or an asking price that seems too low compared to similar vehicles currently for sale. Trust your intuition - if certain aspects seem suspicious, keep searching.

Pay close attention to the photos provided. Clear, plentiful images shot from varying angles help buyers get a better sense of overall condition from a distance before an in-person meeting. Blurry, dark, or only one photo could signal the seller wants to hide imperfections. Consider moving on to other cars advertised.

Taking the time at this step to thoroughly read between the lines of Craigslist ads will help ensure any car you decide to view further or discuss with the seller has desirable transparency and is a good candidate for safe purchase.

Step 3: Contact the seller

Once you’ve found a promising Craigslist car ad, it’s time to initiate dialogue with the seller. The best approach is usually to:

  1. Call the listed phone number first to introduce yourself and convey a brief interest in the vehicle. Speaking directly lets you get a feel for the seller over the phone before meeting.
  2. Follow up with an email including your first name, potential date/time options to see the car, and any initial questions during your conversation. Having correspondence via email creates an official record of discussions.
  3. Inquire about the seller’s reason for selling the car and how long they owned it. Inconsistencies between their story on the phone versus through email could raise alarms.
  4. Arrange to view the car in person at a public location, like a busy parking lot, during daylight hours for safety.
  5. Verify any details mentioned on the listing, like options/packages included, recent maintenance performed, and whether their stated location matches where you will meet.

Establishing open communication with Craigslist sellers upfront allows red flags to surface before spending time and gasoline to see a dubious vehicle. It also allows you to ask questions that further clarify the car’s history and suitability for your needs.

Step 4: Consider a Carfax report

Obtaining a Vehicle History Report is a good idea before finalizing a Craigslist purchase. These reports can be generated for free or cheaply using the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

The most well-known provider, Carfax, allows users to enter a VIN on their website to access basic details from their database, like the number of past owners and records of accidents or damages reported to insurance agencies. Paid subscription plans show supplemental information, such as unreported service repairs.

Scan the Carfax for red flags such as odometer “rollovers” signaling potential tampering, more owners than average for the vehicle age, or recently fixed transmission issues the seller failed to disclose. While not a guarantee against all problems, a clean history can give buyers peace of mind.

Step 5: Meet the seller and inspect the vehicle

With Carfax insights in hand, it’s time for the critical in-person pre-purchase assessment. Bring an experienced evaluator, such as a trusted mechanic or experienced friend, to thoroughly check the following areas:

  • Engine - Check for irregular noises, fluid leaks, or stains below.
  • Transmission - Inspect fluid color and level and ensure smooth shifts through all gears.
  • Suspension - Inspect for worn bushings and ball joints and cracked frame components.
  • Brakes - Ensure even pad wear and good rotor/drum condition.
  • Electrical - Inspect all car functions, turn signals, power windows, etc.

Accompany these inspections with a 10-15 mile test drive encompassing highway speeds, steep inclines, and repeated braking to check performance fully and for subtle noises or vibration issues to surface. Stop to re-check fluid levels after.

Thoroughly inspecting hard-to-see areas like inside fender wells, under rear seats, and the trunk floor can uncover signs of past accident damage or neglected rust issues. Ensure paperwork like the title is in the seller’s name, and they will be present at the time of cash sale and sign-over of ownership.

Step 6: Negotiate a Selling Price

  • Based on your research, determine if the list price is fair. Always prepare to negotiate it lower.
  • When deciding how much wiggle room there is for negotiation, consider any recent maintenance or repairs the car has undergone. Higher expenses usually equate to a lower selling price.
  • After getting a feel for the seller and the assertive price, close the deal. Politely thank them for their time and inform them you’ll email them with an offer either that night or the next day once you’ve had a chance to think it over.

Step 7: Closing the Deal

  • Ensure a bill of sale is drawn up, complete with the seller’s ID, agreed selling price, date of sale, and your signature. Always keep a copy for your records.
  • Pay with certified funds such as a money order or cashier’s check is recommended – not cash. Always remember to get a printed receipt as proof of payment.
  • Legally, you must report the odometer reading to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), register, and insure the car under your name within the timeframe required by law in your state.
  • If any issues arise during your test drive or inspection, consider investing in a PPI (Pre-Purchase Inspection) from an independent shop before finalizing the sale. This proactive approach could save you a lot of hassle down the line.

How to Spot a Craigslist Scammer

Here are some signs to watch out for potential scammers on Craigslist:

They Don’t Want to Talk on the Phone

Legitimate sellers are usually happy to discuss the item for sale over the phone. If someone is reluctant or refuses to communicate by phone, it could be a red flag that they are hiding something or running a scam.

Alternative Payment Methods are Requested

While payment platforms like PayPal provide buyer protection, scammers want untraceable forms of payment like wire transfers, prepaid gift cards, or cryptocurrency. Steering clear of these alternative payment options can help avoid scams.

Rush to Purchase an Unseen Item

Buyers want to thoroughly inspect an item, especially a vehicle, before committing to buy. Scammers convince people to purchase sight unseen using deceptive language and tactics to get money from victims.

Shipping an Item Internationally

While it’s possible to ship items overseas legitimately, scammers often try to get victims to send items abroad where it is more difficult to recover them or get your money back if you are scammed. Stick to local deals where you can meet in person.

Being in a Big Hurry to Complete the Sale

See if the seller is pressuring you to meet quickly or send money right away without reasonable time for your consideration or research. If that’s the case, he/she could be trying to prevent you from discovering it is a scam by rushing you through the process too fast to think critically.

Newly Created Account with No Feedback

While a new account alone isn’t proof of a scam, scammers often use freshly made Craigslist profiles with zero reviews or history to avoid negative attention that may come from posting with a previously reported scam account. Legitimate new users will have provided all necessary contact details transparently.

Contact Details Don’t Add Up or Seem Generic

Scammers frequently use fake or wrong contact details like addresses that don’t exist or phone numbers from shady texting services rather than standard carriers like Verizon or AT&T. Be wary of any seller contact information that needs to be correctly connected to the item or individual.

Photos Look Like Stock Images

Scammers will sometimes reuse photographs from other for sale postings or use fake stock photos they found online rather than taking their photos of the actual item to scam with. High-quality, unique photographs of the listed item increase confidence that it is real.

Poor Communication Skills

Poorly written communications in broken English or many spelling and grammatical errors could suggest a scam originating from overseas. Legitimate local sellers will typically communicate clearly in your language without major issues.

They Don’t Want to Talk on the Phone

Legitimate sellers are usually open to chatting by phone to discuss details of the sale and allow buyers to ask questions. Scammers try to avoid phone calls as it is harder for them to lie or provide deceptive information in real-time conversations.

New or Empty Account

Scammers create new Craigslist accounts to avoid negative reviews that compile feedback that provides a level of legitimacy about a user.

Poor Grammar and Spelling

Scammers located overseas trying to scam Americans will often have poor grammar or spelling in their communications. This is because English is not their native language. Keep an eye out for simple mistakes that a normal local buyer or seller wouldn’t make. It could indicate a scam is happening.

Requests for Assistance Beyond the Sale

Fraudsters may ask you to purchase items for them or help move funds using untraceable payment methods like prepaid gift cards. Real buyers and sellers are only interested in the agreed-upon transaction - no extras. Avoid anyone looking for additional favors or assistance beyond buying/selling the item or car.

Too Good to Be True Prices

If the offer price sounds way below market value for no logical reason, it’s likely bait to get you emotionally invested before the scam is revealed. Scammers aim to take advantage of excitement over potential “deals.” Legitimate sellers have realistic prices and rationale for any discounts. Be wary of ridiculous prices that don’t add up.

While eagerness to complete a sale is normal, threats are unacceptable. Stay away from hostile or forceful sellers - it’s likely a scam. Real buyers and sellers maintain a calm, respectable tone in all interactions.

How To List on Craigslist to Sell Without Getting Scammed

Don’t Go Alone

Meeting strangers from online listings can be unsafe, so it’s best not to meet buyers by yourself. Bring a friend or family member along for protection. Their presence may discourage unlawful behavior from untrustworthy parties.

Meet in Well-Lit, Public Areas

Opt for well-populated places like busy parking lots where cameras record activity. Police stations also allow transaction areas, though hours may be limited. Avoid secluded spots where it’s easier to take advantage of or harm unsuspecting sellers unobserved.

Selling a Car on Craigslist and the Test Drive

Before buyers take vehicles for prolonged test drives, photograph the odometer reading and vehicle condition. Get contact and insurance information in case accidents occur. Consider riding along to keep valuables safe and ensure vehicles return promptly as agreed.

Always Use Craigslist’s Best Practices and Etiquette

Communicate via the site for documentation and look out for red flags like requests to take transactions offline. Meet during daylight hours and follow other platform safety measures to sell securely.

Get payment in certified funds:

Only accept bank-verified forms of payment like cash, cashier’s checks, or money orders to eliminate risks of payment reversals from bad checks issued by scammers. Personal checks can bounce after vehicles change hands.

Only hand over the car title/keys once it’s sold.

Only relinquish ownership documents and vehicle access once funds are confirmed usable through the issuing bank. This prevents car theft by deceitful buyers attempting to steal vehicles before fraudulent checks are discovered.

Avoid meetings near state borders.

Out-of-state parties may abscond with automobiles across borders if disputes happen, complicating resolution and recovery. Stick to nearby transactions within your own state to simplify the resolution of any post-purchase issues through local authorities if needed.

Share your live location with a friend when meeting with the seller/buyer

Let trusted contacts monitor your whereabouts in real-time using location-sharing apps for safety. They can notify authorities if meetings go awry or you don’t check in as planned. The awareness of being watched can also deter unlawful behavior from others.

Research the buyer or buyer’s contact address.

Scrutinize identifying details given by parties interested in buying cars to spot inconsistencies pointing to fraud. Tools like Privdeed and SpyDialer allow reverse searching of phone numbers and addresses to confirm they belong to the individual you’re communicating with.

Get a screenshot of the buyer’s driver’s license.

Photo identification helps prove who attended appointments if disputes arise post-purchase. License images provide buyer descriptions and signatures for comparison if problems surface after the sale.

Consider a bill of sale:

A simple document stating the exchange terms prevents disputes on terms like prices and prevents future denial of agreements. Forms confirm important facts like mileage and payoff amount and release liability once signed to finalize deals securely.

Shipping The Car If Buying or Selling The Car Out Of State

Getting your car from one location to another when buying or selling on Craigslist can be complicated with an easy solution. That’s where Easy Auto Ship comes in handy.

Easy Auto Ship is a vehicle transport service that can help you move a car, whether you’re purchasing one from across the country or offloading your own vehicle to a buyer elsewhere. By letting them handle the logistics of transporting your car in a protected and careful manner, you can avoid potential pitfalls like damage in transit or delays in getting the vehicle to its destination on schedule.

Their network of approved carriers are all verified professionals with experience moving cars long distances. Each transporter is screened and qualified, so you know your car will be in good hands getting transported. Coverage is also provided with up to $100,000 in cargo insurance for your peace of mind.

Schedule a pickup and delivery with Easy Auto Ship after agreeing to buy or sell on Craigslist, and then relax while they do the driving instead of you. It’s an easy solution to remove the hassle and risk when buying or selling a car outside your local area.


Easy Auto Ship will never call you from our toll free number. Any emails from our company will from an ""email address. We are an auto transport broker, and we do not sell any products on our website or any other website. We will never ask for payment through Western Union, Zelle, CashApp, Venmo, etc. unless previously discussed, and the name on the account that you would be sending to will always be Easy Auto Ship.

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