How Long it Takes to Sell a Car – What’s the Holdup?

Selling a used car isn’t easy. In fact, according to a study by iSeeCars, it took an average of 34.6 days to sell a used car in 2021. While it’s easy to blame a rising car market for these high averages, it’s not the only factor. Selling a car privately takes both effort and foresight into the market. Unfortunately, it will never be as easy as clicking a button (we will get into that, though). So, how long it takes to sell a car depends on an abundance of factors.

If you are looking to sell your used vehicle or have already posted it on the market, here are a few reasons the sale is being held up and what to do about it.

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Let’s start with the basics. Relax.

Got it? Okay, let’s move on.

Jokes aside, the key to selling your used car is to be ready for anything. Sure, it’s great to have lofty expectations, and you should always reach to find profit in whatever you do, but don’t let hardheadedness stop movement. If you have found yourself in a bind and need the cash from a car sale, understand that you may take a dip in profit due to strict timing.

As noted before, it takes around a month to sell a used vehicle; this is also in an urban environment. If you live in a rural area, the timeframe may be increased. Remember your surroundings, local market and specifics of the car for sale play into the elongation of selling time. If you are looking to sell your car privately within a day, look elsewhere. It’s as simple as that.

This is not to say that selling your car in a day is not possible, but you cannot make the stars align on want alone.

Henceforth, hamper your expectations. If you are bullish on making the highest profit by selling your car yourself, fine, but don’t expect the process to be speedy. It can be, but those situations are outliers.

2. You Are Trying to Sell a Car Nobody Wants

You love your old car. We know. You have shared glorious days and memorable road trips with your trusty vehicle. Now that it’s time to move on, rose-tinted glasses are masking your negotiation process.

Regardless of your passion for your used car, some cars don’t have a big market. If the model of your vehicle is notorious for mechanical issues or is unattractive (yes, this is subjective, but some cars just don’t look good, i.e. Fiat Multipla), then selling it may be more difficult than you’d imagine. Sure, some people are willing to buy any functional car, but only at the right price.

Take a look around the local market before you plan out your private sale. Vehicles that hold the most resale value, like Jeeps and Hondas, will always move quicker than obscure models. If your model is unpopular, it does not mean that selling it is entirely impossible, but it will take longer. You may need to find an enthusiast group for the specific vehicle or drop the price substantially.

Ultimately, you do not hold much negotiation power if your product is unwanted. Keep that in mind when creating your selling plan.

3. The Car is Not in Good Condition

This should go without saying, but after seeing some ridiculous posts on online marketplaces, we must note it. If you have overstayed your welcome with an old vehicle, do not expect it to sell for much.

If your vehicle does not run, has exceptional exterior damage, or has a multitude of mechanical issues, do not expect it to sell like hotcakes. While a popular vehicle (like a Jeep) may still sell due to enthusiasts that want to fix it, other vehicles may not. If the vehicle does not run, don’t expect to get more than a junk price unless it’s extremely rare.

If the vehicle has a salvage title, do not forget to note this in the description. Do not swindle people into buying a vehicle with a tainted past. Furthermore, if the car does have this title, don’t expect to sell it at market price.

Along with this, the cleanliness of your car matters. If your photographs on your selling post include a dirty or unkempt car, buyers will beware. If a potential buyer shows up to test drive a car with trash plastered throughout the interior, don’t expect them to make an offer. Make sure to detail your vehicle before you post it.

4. Quoting the Wrong Price

Let’s get back to the rose-tinted glasses. It is completely understandable to have exorbitant expectations when selling your car. Try to remember that it means more to you than someone else.

If you are looking to sell your car quickly or it has issues, the price must be lowered. Try to create a reasonable price range you are negotiating. If you have the time to wait for the right deal, set a fair minimum price. If you are in a time crunch, you may be expecting too much for your used vehicle.

At the end of the day, how long it takes to sell a car all depends on pricing. Think about it. If a junk vehicle went online for $20, it would sell within the hour. This is a drastic example, but it’s worth understanding.

Consequently, take a look at your vehicle’s market price on sites like Kelley Blue Book. Keep an eye on the going rate on local marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist. Be honest about your car’s condition. Create a quoted price that is reasonable for both sides.

An Alternative?

When we created Sell My Car Colorado, these factors were some of the things that went through our heads. Sometimes sellers get raw deals due to being held by time constraints. Sometimes sellers are unaware of the actual value of their car. Other times, sellers just don’t care about forgoing the private selling process but don’t want to sell to a dealership.

At Sell My Car Colorado, we are doing something different. With the click of a button, you can sell your used or junk vehicle for cash. Within minutes one of our experienced brokers can offer you a price for your used vehicle. If you accept it, we will pick up the vehicle for you, free of charge.

Seriously, you can sell your used or junk vehicle from your couch.

If how long it takes to sell a car is holding you up from moving on, give us a try.