Anyone, who does a little research and gets familiar with the profit dealers make, starts wondering how to make money selling used cars. This business seems quite attractive as flipping is considered to be simple and convenient. However, it’s not as straightforward as it seems in the beginning.

You do need to have certain knowledge to master the craft of buying and selling cars profitably. Without that, you might not be able to make as much money as you thought you would initially.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to buy and sell used cars for profit.

What is car flipping and what are its advantages?

Flipping has the simplest explanation: it’s the process that involves buying cheap cars and selling them with profit. The term is more straightforward than the business itself, so don’t let it fool you into thinking that everything is a piece of cake.

Regardless of the obstacles and difficulties, flipping is still a profitable side business that can easily translate into a steady income. You just need to know what to do, where to start, and follow all the steps carefully.

That will simplify your task quite a bit because you do need to accept all the help you can get. With all the necessary knowledge and a positive mindset, you’ll be able to turn car flipping into something you can rely on.

Another advantage of buying and selling used cars is that it doesn’t require a great deal of investment. You can start by selling one vehicle and grow slowly as you gather up more money. You can dedicate as much time as you want – it depends on how quickly you want to see the results of your hard work.

But you need to understand how to flip used cars and what risks are associated with it before you commit to the business itself. That way, you’ll know it’s something you’re truly passionate about.

Let’s face it – you won’t do the extensive research, choose correct models, do the paperwork, repair the car, find the buyer and sell a car (to name a few steps) unless you’re affectionate about used vehicles.

Don’t worry – you’ll know what to do at the end of this guide. For now, let’s learn how to make money selling used cars, shall we?

How to make money selling used cars and avoid legal trouble?

Before we move on to discussing how to buy and sell used cars for profit, we need to talk about legal matters. It’s probably the most important step as we don’t want to encounter any trouble, do we?

Even though car flipping is a legal business, the specific laws vary from one state to another. Certain states allow you to buy and sell around 12 cars in a year, but those numbers can be quite different in the state you live in.

That’s why you should check the local laws and make sure that you don’t need to get a dealer’s license to buy and sell used vehicles.

If you do, then you need to think carefully if this business is truly worth it.

Getting a dealer’s license isn’t cheap – the expenses can easily amount to $1,500. They could even be more – it depends on the peculiarities of the procedure itself.

If you are determined to turn car flipping into a serious business, then a dealer’s license is the most clever starting point. But if you want to buy and sell vehicles casually, then it might be a better idea to start without the license and get it later on.

Either way, you must check local laws and figure out how many cars you’re allowed to sell during a year.

It might also be reasonable to negotiate with certain dealers and let them take care of the paperwork. You’ll have to pay some money for that luxury, but it might be worth it if you don’t know how to fill out those forms.

You should always remember that it’s one thing to learn how to flip used cars and it’s another to do everything legally.

How to buy and sell used cars for profit?

Flipping used cars is a process and you’ll need to follow certain steps to maximize your profit and achieve the best results. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Find the right place for your purchase – it can be Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay Motors, public auctions, a local newspaper, or acquaintances around the town. All of these places will give you access to cheap cars that you can sell profitably later on;

2. Select your niche – research what people are buying around you and select your inventory accordingly. Analyze your geography, climate, and the level of wealth among the population;

3. Determine your budget – figure out how much you’re willing to invest and prepare cash for the upcoming purchase;

4. Check KBB or other sources and find out the market value for common cars;

5. If you’re buying at an auction, get yourself familiar with all the rules. Don’t forget to check legal matters about title transfer and other paperwork;

6. Inspect the interior and exterior carefully – you’re not looking for a perfect car, but you certainly want to make sure that required repairs aren’t too expensive. In other words, search for the car that will resale profitably without investing a ton of money;

7. Look under the hood – even a perfect exterior can hide rusty parts and the engine that’s at death’s door. Make sure you check engine oil, transmission, brakes, belts, radiator hose, and the radiator itself;

8. Check the VINs, make an offer (or bid), and buy the vehicle;

9. Clean the car and fix the issues – once you remove all the dirt, take the car to a mechanic. Diagnose the problems and set your budget. Remember that it’s better to focus on essential repairs that affect the value of the car;

Now that you know how to buy pre-owned vehicles, it’s time you learned how to make money selling used cars.

How to flip used cars? Final steps

Before you flip the car you’ve just acquired, you need to prepare for the sale. You’ll need to go through a couple of additional steps to finalize everything and put the earned money into the pocket.

Set the price

You need to select a competitive price tag to make sure you attract customers. Therefore, you’ll need to use online tools such as KBB or Edmunds to figure out the market value of the car. You can also check the market and compare prices from private sellers.

Once you analyze the data, come up with a fair price. Don’t forget to contemplate how much discount you’re willing to provide.

Choose the right place for your listing

You should choose the right place for your listing depending on the used car you bought. If it’s a rare classic, you’ll waste time searching for customers on Craigslist. You’ll have a better bet with websites such as Hemmings.

It’s always more reasonable to choose the listing place according to the market you want to cater to.

List the car

Create an attractive listing for your car. Take good pictures and include them in your advertisement. An informational, high-quality ad is more likely to attract legit buyers.

Talk with potential customers and meet them in person

The more willing you are to talk with potential customers and provide them with all the details, the more chances you have to sell the car profitably. If they want to inspect the car in person, arrange the meeting without hesitating.

An important note: always verify your customers to avoid scammers.

Finalize the deal

It’s up to you to decide whether you’ll negotiate or not. Either way, you need to finalize the deal by agreeing to the final price.

As you can see, it’s not that difficult to learn how to buy and sell used cars for profit.


It can be scary to invest in a new business, especially if you don’t have any experience. Buying and selling cars might seem overwhelming in the beginning, but trust me, you’ll master the trade soon enough. You simply need to know how to flip used cars and avoid legal trouble.

Once you go through all the steps I’ve mentioned, you should be able to make your first profitable sale. If not, look back and make sure you did everything correctly. It might take some trial and error, but eventually, you’ll succeed. Good luck!