Selling Cars and Stuff on Craig's List

I have an old used car to sell, but I’ve never actually done this before. It’s an old car (87 BMW 3 series) and I’m having problems with it, so I don’t want to put a lot of money into selling it, but I don’t want to misrepresent it. On the other hand, if you’re good with cars, it might be a good investment, as I’ve put a lot of parts into it and given it a recent tune up.

I suppose the thing to do is use a free Craig’s list ad, and I wondered if many people here have used this service, and could offer any advice about logistics? Would it be worthwhile to get a gmail account to handle mail/spam? Any useful strategies for screening out nut jobs? I don’t know why, but I just feel as if I’m getting in over my head placing a Craig’s list ad.

Don’t use your normal email, that’s for sure. Have someone with you when a potential buyer comes to see the car and if you don’t like the way he or she looks/acts, tell them that the car just got sold or something.

I’ve had a couple of friends sell their cars using craigslist. They would handle the test drives and final transactions at the local police station. Maybe a bit paranoid for an '87 BMW, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra safety.

Holy cow, Genji! That makes perfect sense, but, wow. This feels like back in the day!

Is this the one with the hole in the trunk?

I think it’s the one with the illegal alien embedded in the back seat.

Yeah, the one that got creamed by a trash truck. Should I put a link to my blog, describing the problem?

Yeah, we went that route just recently as we were moving out of country. Definately get a different email address. I only chose to respond to people who were able to use whole sentences, as my imagination associated broken grammar with shifty people with knives under their stained jean jackets.

We had all kinds of inquiries from lowballers to people offering more then my asking. Do not assume anyone is a done deal until you have cash in hand, flakes are aplenty. Do not meet on their terms, do not go out of your way for anybody or you’ll get run ragged. Sell the car ‘as is’. Definately do the cash trade in a public place, preferably swinging by the bank before you lose sight of them. Don’t get flustered and don’t be worried about triple checking money, forms, etc. Most people are great, and nothing will go wrong (I’ve both bought and sold cars off Craigslist) but play it safe.

Again, you can choose the buyer. You don’t have to let them know on the spot.

When I listed my '99 F-150 on Craigslist a while back, most of the responses were from scammers. I didn’t get any serious inquiries until I put it on Autotrader. There was some cash outlay there, but I sold it to the first guy who looked at it, for my full asking price.

The more serious car shoppers appear to be looking at Autotrader rather than Craigslist.

Craigslist used to be good to sell all kinds of stuff but I feel like it’s full of scammers, bots and flakes now. It just draws them.

Yeah, I’d rather pay to list my stuff on a better site. He needs to develop better technology to stop all the botting. Craigslist was awesome at first but it’s gone way downhill lately.

I think you’re right, but I worry that this car I’m selling isn’t a serious deal. I wouldn’t want the Autotrader person to think he’s getting a great car. It’s more like a poor quality car, worth only a few hundred. Maybe.

It’s too old to get a listing on Kelly blue book, but the insurance people valued it at ~1000 or so last year when the aforementioned trash truck hit it. I think it might be worth $500, if only for parts.

If that’s the case, then, Craigslist might be good enough. Just please be kind enough to accept this certified check for $1,000 and wire $500 back to me. Do you ship to Nigeria?

Well, I finally found the time to put my merchandise up on craigslist. It worked really really well! I’m such a believer.

I put a 3GS iPhone up yesterday and it was gone in just a few hours. The transaction was a little odd, but I think it was A) the buyer’s interest in negotiating the price (nothing wrong with that) and B) his inability to express his desire in a non-shifty way. At any rate, no real harm done. I was just uncomfortable when I asked him to count the money and it was less than what we had agreed upon.

But selling the car was really awesome. I was trying to be all coy about my personal information, but if you are selling a car that isn’t all that dependable in the first place, it’s hard not to reveal some key facts, like where the car can be found for example. A young man came to my house this morning (less than 24 hours after I posted the ad) and took the car. He actually wanted to come get it last night at 10 pm, but I was ready to go to bed.

Meanwhile, I got dozens of emails on the car. A lot of the people seemed new to buying cars or using craigslist. They asked questions that seemed silly or just odd. I explained that I was selling it because I was having mechanical problems that I couldn’t deal with, but people insisted on asking about what the problem was, etc. or explaining their personal circumstances. After a while, I realized that what seemed like the most efficient way to proceed was to only respond to the people who asked where to find the car. The kid that bought it seemed really savvy – he was like, I have the money and want to give it to you, can I come over right now. He came over at 8 am this morning and I signed the title over to him.

This is all excellent advice. I kind of new it when you first posted, but I was just reviewing the thread and now I can say this is all spot on from my little bit of experience. Thanks for posting.

I did get a throw away email address, but craig’s list seems to have solved this problem by forwarding all mail to me. I guess once you engage with a seller, you give them your email (if you’re not using a temporary), so maybe it’s still prudent. It’s nice that you’re email doesn’t get sucked into the spam lists by the bots reading the ads.

I would definitely ship to Nigeria for you, jerri. :)

So, if I may ask, what was the make, model, year, and approximate mileage of the car, and what did you get for it?

Seems odd that you had so many responses in such a short time frame (relative to a recent experience of my own). I wonder if your car was super-desireable, super-cheap, or what…

Sure, it was a 1987 BMW 3 series with many miles on it. I got $500. :)

Ah, one of the losing bidders forwarded me the following note:

Watch your car get parted out here:\

huh! I wonder how much he’ll get. Whatever it is, that kid deserves it. He was like all business. Plus it looks like he’s willing and able to tear it apart and sell the parts.

If you’re happy with the $500, you did good. And now you can have a fun experience watching that forum haggle and quibble over the parts.

$500 was a steal for that, considering it’s still running.