Selling Trucks: A Sellers Checklist and How to Guide

March 29, 2012

Don't leave money on the table when selling a truck by cutting corners. Use the following 6-step procedure to sell a truck for all that it's worth.

Great Used Truck For Sale

More and more people are using the Internet for selling trucks. More than 50 percent of all people selling a truck will sell it online. There are many sites devoted to selling cars as well as online classifieds.

Determine the Value

Before you sell or trade in your truck, you should first evaluate its worth. Check NADA guides or the Kelley Blue Book for your truck's actual value. The real value of your truck may vary from the blue book value, as other factors such as the mechanical condition, the options installed on your truck and market conditions are taken into consideration. Used vehicle classifieds listed in newspapers and on the Internet can also help you to get an estimated value of your truck.

Go to a trusted mechanic and ask for a value for your particular vehicle. Knowing the price of your truck will make it much easier to sell the truck for a profit than if you blindly accept the first offer.

Prep the Truck

Before you sell your truck, clean it thoroughly. A truck that looks good will be easier to sell. Wash and wax the exterior, clean the interior, vacuum the floor mats, wash the windows and cleanup the truck bed. Refrain from smoking in the truck if you are a smoker, so the smell goes away. Pump up the tires if necessary, apply a tire spray and gather the maintenance records. Take some photos once it is looking good as this helps when posting ads.

Post Your Ads

To get the most exposure, advertise your truck on as many places as possible. Generally, you will make 10 to 20 percent more by selling your truck yourself than going through a used car dealer. This includes posting it online with auto selling sites and online classifieds. Talk to friends and people you work with and let them know you are selling your truck. Post flyers at your local university. Post an ad in the local newspapers. Get as many ads out as you can.

Meeting the Buyer

Always meet any prospective buyer in a safe place, such as your work or a well known spot in town. You do not want people coming to your home, as people may harass you if they are unhappy with the purchase. Also, make sure you specify a time period that is good for people to respond to the ad.


Make sure you describe your car objectively. You want to get the highest price you can, but there are laws in place for those that do not let prospective buyers know of any major maintenance problem. Make sure you have a plan set up for negotiations, as well as the lowest price you are willing to let your truck go for. If you need to sell it at a specific price, realize that it can take some time.

Hand Over the Truck

Make sure you have the cash in hand or the payment check clears before you hand over the truck. Once you have payment in full you can then hand the title over. To speed everything up you can get the money and hand over the truck at the DMV.

How to Sell a Truck When You Still Owe Money on It

Selling a truck you have not yet paid off is not as simple as selling a truck you own outright. The exact process will change depending on who you are selling to and how large the amount still owed is. It will also depend on if you are buying another vehicle from a dealer with proceeds from the sale, or if you are only selling. In order to sell a truck with a lien on it, you need to pay off the bank with the lien to have it removed. Once the lien has been removed, you can proceed with the sale.

Find Your Pay-Off Amount

The first thing you need to do is to contact the company that financed your purchase of the truck. Get a quote from them as to what the pay-off amount will be. This amount may be different from the amount still owed.

Start the Selling Process

Once you have that information in hand, you can start the selling process. The simplest situation is going through a dealership. They generally will take care of all of the paperwork on your behalf. You may be able to find a better deal when selling privately, but the dealership will be the least complicated option. If you sell to a dealership, they may give you the difference between the money still owed to the financing company and the selling price, or they may apply it toward paying for a new vehicle. This depends if you are planning on buying from the same dealership.

Pay off the Loan and Transfer the Title

If you decide you do not want to sell your truck to a dealership, and that you would rather sell it on your own, you will not be able to transfer the title to the buyer if there is still a lien on the truck. Also, you will not be able to pay off the loan to remove the lien without transferring the title to the buyer. What you can do, however, is to go with the buyer to the bank and do everything simultaneously.

Investigate an Escrow

If the bank is not located locally, you can investigate escrow options. An escrow will hold the buyer's money while the title is retrieved and sent to the buyer. An escrow contract will be set up for this purpose.

It is common to sell a truck that has not been fully paid off. With this information you will be able to make selling your truck work for you.

Selling a Truck vs. Trading One In

Weigh the pros and cons of selling a truck as opposed to trading it in carefully, as there are advantages and disadvantages to both options.

Selling Your Truck

You can get a much higher price if you sell your truck to a private buyer. You can also have the satisfaction of knowing the person who buys your cherished vehicle if you sell it rather than trade it in. Another advantage is that you won't be compelled to buy a new vehicle if you're dealing with a private buyer rather than a dealer. Even if you do need another truck, you won't be restricted to just one dealer to buy it from.

Selling a vehicle is time consuming. It also requires a lot of effort and money to attract buyers. You have to advertise in newspapers and on websites and often pay for these advertisements. You also have to divulge your telephone number. This makes you vulnerable, as you might get calls from all sorts of people, and not just those interested in buying your truck. If your truck isn't paid off, it's very difficult to find a buyer, as most will want a clean title for their vehicle. If there is something wrong with the truck, you're required by most state laws to reveal this to the new owner. If you don't, you may be found guilty of fraud and would have to pay for the truck repairs carried out by the new owner. The new owner might also bother you with periodic complaints about the truck's performance.

Trading in Your Truck

The main advantage of trading in your truck to a dealer is that it's very simple. It's less costly and time consuming. There are also tax advantages if you trade in your vehicle, as sales tax is calculated on the selling price of the new truck less the trade in value of your old truck.

The dealer will give you a much lower price for your truck than you would get from a private buyer. Moreover, the dealer will also point out flaws and needed repairs and try to lower the price further.