Low new car inventory drove up prices for used cars during the COVID-19 pandemic. Years later, the market is still self-correcting. Used cars are selling faster as consumers replace their aging vehicles.

So how long does it take to sell a used car? On average in 2023, a used car sold in 49 days, which is 6.1% faster than the previous year.

Many factors impact how quickly cars sell, however. The time it takes to sell privately can vary widely based on the vehicle’s make and model, age and condition, pricing, marketing efforts, and the competitiveness of online marketplaces.

Selling a car in 2024 requires an understanding of the changing market. Private sellers have more options than they used to, including online car auctions and marketplaces that reach a wider audience – with stiffer competition.

So, how long does it take to sell a car online? The short answer: It depends. But with the right strategy, including offering vehicle shipping options, you can reach more potential buyers, find the ideal buyer to sell your car, and increase the likelihood of a fast sale.

Is it Faster to Sell a Car Privately or Through a Dealership?

Generally, cars from private sellers vary widely in their time on the market compared to cars at dealerships. This is largely because dealerships have built-in marketing, a team of salespeople, brand equity, and a large inventory. Car dealerships are also typically better at accurately pricing their used cars compared to private sellers.

Car buyers may also feel more comfortable working with a dealership for their sales vs. a private seller, much like people rely on marketplaces with purchase protection like eBay or Etsy over an unknown website.

That said, private sellers can get a quick sale under the right circumstances, which include an in-demand vehicle, the right price, and the right exposure to interested buyers.

It’s also beneficial to sell during the prime car-selling season, which is from March to August. There are several reasons the spring and summer are ideal, including nice weather for foot traffic and test drives. It’s also a time when people are getting tax refund checks, which can go toward their car purchase.

However, if your car isn’t priced correctly for its Kelley Blue Book value and demand, it can take months to sell. After all, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay.

What’s the Fastest Way to Sell My Car?

You have a few options to sell your car: privately, through a dealership, and online. We’ll go through each, but selling through a dealership is typically the fastest way to sell your car.

Selling Through a Dealership

Working with a dealer is one of the fastest ways to sell a car since they'll handle the paperwork for you. Typically, dealerships take vehicles as a trade-in on another vehicle or with an instant cash offer. Keep in mind that the instant cash offer is often much lower than retail to allow the dealership to make a profit.

How long does it take to sell a car to a dealership? That depends on if and when you accept the dealership’s offer. Dealerships don’t work on consignment, so they’ll offer you cash for wholesale value to get it off your hands.

If you want to sell your car to a dealer, make sure to understand your vehicle’s worth and get multiple quotes from different dealerships. Bring the paperwork with you and don’t forget to clean your car.

Minor repairs should be performed before you get quotes, but don’t go overboard. Costly repairs, such as replacing the brakes, may not increase the value enough to make it worthwhile. Remember, dealerships can often fix problems on their own.

If you still have a loan on your vehicle, you will need to pay off the balance of that loan after the sale.

Selling Privately

Selling your car privately gives you the most control over the process. You can price the way you want and negotiate with sellers. The downside of that is you’re doing all the work whereas when you sell to a dealership, all you have to do is drive it to the lot and hand over the paperwork.

Everything from creating ads and advertising your car to meeting with buyers and answering questions rests on your shoulders. You may deal with casual buyers who waste your time, hardball negotiators, and stagnant listings. There’s no guarantee that your vehicle will even sell. You have to gather the paperwork, determine the fair market value, spruce up your car for “curb appeal” and make decisions on repairs that may get you a higher sale price.

Selling Online

Selling a car online is a newer option that significantly widens your audience of buyers and increases your likelihood of making the sale. Promoting your vehicle on the best websites to sell used cars is one of the best methods for selling a car in 2024.

In some ways, selling your car on an online marketplace is the best of both worlds between selling privately and working with a dealership. You get lots of exposure for your vehicle without putting in a ton of effort.

Online car buyers often visit car-selling websites like AutoTrader to find used cars online. Other popular sites are CarsDirect and TrueCar. Online car auctions are popular places to buy vehicles because they offer numerous options and highly competitive prices.

Tips to Sell Your Car Faster

Do you want to sell your car fast or sell it for the highest price? Ideally, you’d get both, but you may need to prioritize one over the other. Here are some tips to sell your car quickly without rock-bottoming the price.

List for Fair Market Value

You have to know how much you can get for your car. The value is determined by the make, model, year, mileage, and condition. You can check your car’s value at Kelley Blue Book, but make sure to be realistic about its condition.

If you got quotes from a few dealerships before trying to sell your car online, consider these when you decide on pricing as well.

Create an Appealing Ad

The ad is what will capture the buyer’s attention and get them interested in your vehicle. Take quality photos to help your car stand out in a crowded marketplace and write a detailed description.

Make sure to disclose anything that may influence the buyer’s decision, such as flaws or issues. These will come out eventually, whether the buyer sees your vehicle in person or gets a vehicle history report, so honest disclosure saves everyone time and hassle.

Make Strategic Decisions About Repairs

Small repairs, such as fixing a busted headlight or a dent in the door, are inexpensive and may increase the value of your car. If you can’t afford the repairs or don’t think you’ll recoup the costs, make sure to disclose them to the buyer. Your reputation isn’t worth a quick sale.

Focus on Curb Appeal

Get your car detailed or clean it yourself. Showing a buyer a dirty, grimy car, no matter how popular it is or how great it runs, is not going to be appealing. Take all your belongings out, vacuum and spruce up the interior, and give it some shine.

Get a Vehicle History Report

One way to sell a car fast is to get a car report history and give it to a prospective buyer. This will save the potential buyer time, as they won't have to track down this information themselves. This may make the car sale process faster and give the buyer peace of mind.

Gather All Your Paperwork

This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to misplace paperwork if you’ve had your vehicle for a long time. Before you list, gather your title, registration, and insurance information. The last thing you want is to close the deal but lose the buyer because of delays.

Offer Shipping Options

If you want to stand out, offering shipping options can help your listing appeal to buyers who may not have considered shopping for vehicles out of state. Convenient shipping options take some of the stress out of the process while adding convenience to close the deal fast.

By integrating shipping services into your sales strategy, you unlock several benefits and provide both parties convenience and peace of mind. Online car buyers can trust that their new vehicle will arrive safely, while sellers can focus on finalizing the sale without worrying about delivery logistics.

When offering shipping services, provide potential buyers with transparent pricing. A car shipping calculator is an excellent tool for estimating shipping costs based on distance, vehicle size, and transport options. Integrating a car shipping calculator into your listing empowers buyers to make informed purchase decisions.

How Much Does Car Shipping Cost?

Perhaps you find the perfect car to buy in another state and need to transport it to your home. Maybe you've found a buyer thousands of miles away and need to ship a car to another state. Auto transport companies offer cross-country car shipping that meets your needs.

But how much does it cost? It depends on how far you’re shipping and the options you choose. Your auto shipping price could range from a few hundred dollars if you're transporting a car 500 miles away to nearly $2,000 if the car needs to go more than 2,500 miles.

A car shipping calculator can help you determine your shipping costs and factor them into your decision-making process.

Looking to sell a car? We can help you with that.