How to Sell a Used Car With a Sign in the Window

It's a Positive Sign to Display a For Sale Sign

For sale by owner sign
Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

Selling a used car? Don't forget to put a for sale sign in your window advertising the car. It's going to attract attention for your used car on a consistent basis from people that find your used car attractive in the first place.

There is one absolutely important caveat to add. Only do this if it does not conflict with any local zoning laws. In Greenwich, Conn., for example, it can result in a $45 fine.

Also, there are other parts around the U.S. where it is illegal to put a used car for sale sign in your car window. There are good reasons for and against such laws, but frankly, individual sellers who sell a car one time should not be punished this way.​

Piques Your Interest

Think about the times you've seen a "For Sale" sign in a used car's window. It piques a little bit of curiosity on your part. It makes you look over the car. It's one of the most important things you can do to sell your used car.

Why? It's an eye-grabber. Department stores are full of similar signs. Most people are drawn to a place like Macy's because of the advertising, but once they're inside they engage in impulse buys because of signs they see. (OK, I'm guilty of this.)

Don't be a penny pincher and attempt to make your own sign. Get a "For Sale" sign at your local drug store or sign shop. Buy four signs. One goes in the back and side windows all the time.

The fourth comes out from behind the passenger side sun visor whenever you park. That way you're covered from all angles.

By the way, if you have blacked-out windows on your used car, tape the signs to the outside of the window. Use heavy, clear packing tape to make them waterproof. Nobody will bother reading signs on the inside of heavily tinted windows.

Get a Window Sticker

To foment interest in your car, invest $3.95 in a professional looking window sticker for your used car. WindowSticker.us will create a pretty nifty looking window sticker for you.

Too cheap to spring for a window sticker? You can get a free fuel economy label via FuelEconomy.gov that's pretty neat looking.

Make sure your sign is done right, though. It has to include your phone number - but make sure it's a cell phone number where people can reach you at all hours of the day. You have to strike while the iron is hot. People who reach voicemail probably won't leave a message and the sale is lost forever.

There's a big advantage to making a cell phone number the primary contact: caller ID. You'll have a record of how to get in touch with folks if their message gets garbled. Plus, it's another safety feature because you have an additional record of potential buyers.

Also, consider posting your email in the window. In this day of smartphones, people can email you instantly right from the street. (You can also encourage potential buyers to text you for an instant response.)

Display the Price

Price needs to be displayed prominently, even if you're not doing the window sticker.

Don't waste people's time. Be upfront and tell them what you want for the car. Don't write "Call For Price." If the price is negotiable, put down, for example, $4500 Or Best Offer." If the price isn't negotiable (a big mistake in my view) then you need to write $4500 Firm."

Don't cram a lot of other information onto the sign. Keep it simple. Tease people with the basics and let your car do the rest.

Good luck selling your used car. With this advice on signs, it should go a lot more smoothly!