How to Flip Cars and Make Money: Your 11-Step Guide to Success

  • Time to read: 15 min.

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So you want to know how to flip cars and make money?

If you think that flipping cars is only for the big guys, you’re wrong. Yes, it takes a lot of work and know-how to flip high end cars on the regular but if you are willing to put in the time and effort, there are ways to make some money without having too much experience or capital. However this article will focus on how anyone can make some extra cash by flipping low cost used cars with little risk involved.

Remember that flipping cars isn’t the only way to make money with vehicles. You can also make money by advertising on your car or have a side hustle with a truck.

What is Car Flipping?

how to flip cars and make money

Car flipping is a term used to describe people who purchase vehicles with the intention of turning a profit from them as quickly as possible. Typically, car flippers focus on buying vehicles that present good opportunities for resale because they have been poorly maintained or have undergone major damage in accidents.

Car flippers will often buy cars at auctions and from owner-sellers for a lower price than a dealer would be able to negotiate.

Difference Between Flipping a Car and Just Selling One

There are two big differences between flipping a car and just selling it. The first difference is that when you flip a car, the intent is to buy it for very cheap with the intention of selling it at a profit.

The second difference is that when you sell your own vehicle, you want to get the best price possible while finding someone who will give you enough money for it so that you can buy (or finance) that new or newer model.

The Goal of Flipping Cars

The goal in any type of investing is to make reliable returns on one’s time and/or investments. This also applies to flipping cars; the idea behind flipping cars isn’t necessarily about making an enormous profit (although many people do). Just like most investments, it is about generating a return on your investment and holding onto that profit each time you sell.

Let’s Talk About Risk

There are two risks with flipping cars: losing money or damaging the car. The risk of losing money becomes more common when people are careless with their purchases but are easily remedied by finding out which types of used cars do well in your area before deciding what to buy.

The risk of damaging the car becomes an issue when one does not know how to evaluate the condition that any given vehicle is in before buying it. That being said, if you decide that flipping cars is for you, then learn all about the proper tools to use while inspecting a used vehicle for flaws and damages before making your purchase.

How to Flip Cars and Make Money: 11 Steps

How to make money flipping cars.

In order to get started flipping cars, you’ll do best by following these steps:

Find a Car

So let’s start by saying that you should only purchase cars that are mechanically sound (meaning they do not break down while driving) and don’t need huge repairs. The general rule of thumb is if the car runs like it did when it was brand new, then the price tag will be higher than one that has already gone through a few owners or has been involved in an accident.

Cars with low mileage but lots of wear and tear usually get discounted tremendously because there aren’t many buyers who can tell its age which means you’re getting your hands on a good deal!

Take a Test Drive

Once you have found the right vehicle, take it for a test drive to make sure everything is in working order. If you cannot take a test drive, study the car thoroughly and drive it once before purchasing to make sure there are no warning lights on the dash or check engine light is not illuminated/flashing.

Look Around for Comparables

In order to establish a good price range for your potential purchase, have a look at other similar cars that have been sold recently in classifieds or online listings. You can do this by using websites such as Craigslist, Autotrader, and eBay Motors to find local listings for comparable vehicles.

These sites usually highlight what mileage the vehicle has and include information about whether it’s clean or not, if it runs well and how much money it has been going for in recent sales. This should give you a rough estimate of what your car is worth so don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price if you think it’s too high.

Negotiate the Best Deal Possible

Now that you have a good idea of what your car is worth, start negotiating with yourself or the seller. Remember, this isn’t an auction so don’t make it one because any bid must come from another person/seller not from within yourself.

For example: If you set out to purchase a vehicle and someone else comes along and offers $500 less than what you’re asking but they seem like they’re in a hurry and will walk away if their offer isn’t accepted then try lowering your demand by $100-200 to see if they’ll bite. The worst case scenario is they say no and walk away, but now you’ve saved yourself a few hundred bucks which you can use to apply towards your next purchase.

Give Yourself Some Extra Funds

In order to take care of those unforeseen damages mentioned earlier, have some extra money available before buying the car. This should be anywhere from $50-200 depending on the extent of damage that may come with purchasing any used vehicle. By doing this, there won’t be a time when you’re stuck without cash because you already know what’s going into the deal before hand!

Do Your Due Diligence Before Buying

So let’s say you’ve done everything right so far and still manage to find a great deal on a car. The next thing you’ll want to do is make sure the paperwork for this particular vehicle is in order.

This simply means making sure all the information on the bill of sale (vehicle purchase form) matches with the details that are included on the title of ownership or registry papers. If they don’t match then there’s no telling what has happened and it might be time to walk away from this deal! Remember, you are buying and selling cars, not to be popular or help someone else save money.

Take It to an Inspection Station

Another smart thing to do before buying any used vehicle is taking it to an inspection station or recommended repair shop so you can have it checked out one more time before buying.

By having someone else check out your potential purchase, you can save yourself thousands of dollars down the road and save time by knowing what’s wrong or needs to be fixed before you buy. Most reputable inspection stations will charge around $60-$100 for a full check but it’s worth every penny to get that final word.

Buy the Car

Once you’ve decided that you like the car, it’s time to buy it. Most states require that the car be put into your name as soon as you complete a sale. If not, then make sure it’s registered in someone else’s name before buying the vehicle.

This way if there is a problem with the title or bill of sale, you can tell your seller you will take care of it and they should budge on their selling price because now they have something to lose.

Fix Up/Clean the Car

If the car has been sitting around for more than a few months, it’s probably going to need some work and/or cleaning before selling. This is one of the best ways to make more money on your purchase because you can try selling it “as is” or fix up and clean it first.

The decision is yours but in most cases, it’s better to have a cleaner looking car when trying to sell online. This will allow potential buyers to picture themselves driving the vehicle rather than being distracted by dirty carpets or an interior that needs attention.

Post it for Sale

This is the easiest part because you can sell your vehicle by placing an ad online or at your local pawn shops, dealerships, and/or through classified ads in the newspaper. In addition, there are lots of online locations to place your ad, like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Oodle, USFreeAds, and Autotrader.

Just make sure you include all the specifications about your car (year, make, model, mileage) as well as take clear pictures of it so people can get a better idea of what they’re buying.

Start the Process Over Again

There’s no reason in the world to let your previous investments sit around in your garage when you can start making money on them again. Since it takes time (and money) to fix up and clean cars, try purchasing two or more at a time then sell them one-by-one as they’re ready. This is a great strategy if you want to make some cash quickly and keep it coming on a regular basis!

There are many ways people make money from buying used vehicles and trying to re-sell them for top dollar. It may take a bit of practice before getting perfect but that’s okay because there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get something out of this article whether it’s new methods to try or simply coming up with a game plan.

Have fun with the process and don’t be afraid to brainstorm back-up plans if things go south. Remember, most people lose money when they sell used cars because they either rush into it or don’t know what they’re doing so try your best to avoid making those mistakes.

Where Buy and Sell the Cars You Flip

make money by selling cars

When it comes to finding used cars and selling them, there are plenty of places online and offline you can go. The key is to do some research first because you don’t want to end up paying more for a vehicle than what’s considered normal in your local area. Check out the places below if looking for a car to flip:

Your Local Paper

Private sellers lose thousands of dollars every year buying newspaper ads over the phone thinking they’re getting a great deal on a car or truck when in reality it’s nothing but a waste of time and money! This is why it’s important to have an idea about pricing beforehand so you aren’t fooling yourself into believing that those “once in a life time” deals are as good as they seem.


While pawnshops typically don’t offer much in the way of buying used cars, there are a few that may offer some cars in good condition for sale. It’s also worth noting that pawnshops often provide loans against the value of used vehicles, so if you’re looking to get cash out of your car quickly and easily, this could be an option.

Here’s how to open your own pawn shop to make some money.

Your Local Classifieds

The classified section of your local paper or online is a great place to start looking for cars to buy and sell. To avoid wasting time going from dealership to used car lot, check out the following sites:


Craigslist isn’t just for buying and selling furniture and clothing! It’s also a place where people post ads about the vehicles they’re trying to part with whether it’s free or not. You can search cities all over America through Craigslist then narrow down your results by clicking “Cars” next to “For Sale” on the right hand side of their site.


Autotrader has been around for a relatively long time so it’s safe to say you can rely on their reliability when looking for cars online. They have millions of vehicles listed from every state so no matter where you are, chances are there’s a car or two waiting for you at Autotrader.


The advantage Oodle has over Craigslist is that they’re mobile friendly which means you can search just as easily on your phone as you would with a traditional computer. This makes it easy to find the car or truck that’s perfect for what you need then immediately begin negotiations without having to sit in front of a desktop all evening.

Private and Public Auctions

Another option you have for finding cars is to look through online car auctions. The great thing about using private or public auctions is that it’s more than likely the seller has done their research so you won’t end up overpaying for something that isn’t worth the price tag.

One of the main downsides, however, are that there are monthly or yearly fees associated with using this service which means your overall costs may be higher than if you went with Craigslist or Autotrader (or a dealership like Carmax).

With all of these resources available within arm’s reach, it would almost be silly not to make money flipping used cars. You’ll start at square one but don’t let an uphill battle discourage your desire to succeed. Instead, think about how much money you can make after learning the ropes and remember that nothing worth having is ever free.

Car Flipping Tips to Make Money

tips for making money by flipping cars

There are a few things you’ll need to know if you want to be successful in side hustles with a car. First off, you must do your research before buying any car or truck as it not only protects yourself but ensures everyone has a fair deal when agreement is reached. Here’s what you should consider:

Research What You’re Buying

It would be unwise for example to pay $3,000 for a vehicle that typically sells wholesale around $2,000 so by spending your time and energy on researching cars and trucks first, it will save you unnecessary headache down the road. You can always use a service like Carfax to help you know if there were any car problems or mechanical issues (like a bad timing belt or low oil level).

Research Pricing

If so many people lose money buying cars on sites like Craigslist, why do so many still use it? The reason is because there are plenty of people out there willing to sell their car for a few hundred bucks while others might be happy with just several hundred dollars. Do your homework and know the prices before making any decisions. You can find pricing information on websites like Kelley Blue Book; Truecar, Inc.; or Edmunds.

Protect Yourself

One of the best ways to protect yourself when dealing with someone you’ve never met is by using what’s called an escrow service. They allow you to make payments online which can be very helpful if one or both parties desire to keep things safe and secure during the entire process. If not, at least try looking them up in your local area beforehand and ask them about fees associated with using their services.

Keep in mind that this is a business and as such, you have to treat it as one. You wouldn’t take your grandmother out “flipping” cars so don’t expect anyone else to take you seriously. It’s important to be educated on the industry before trying to develop a customer base, otherwise it’s just a matter of time before someone catches on and decides they can do it better.

If you want to be successful then take the time now and become an expert in what you’re going into because there are plenty of people who make money flipping cars.

Wrap Up

No matter where or how you buy a vehicle, it’s going to require a lot of hard work and patience if you hope to be successful. But with the right attitude and motivation, chances are you’ll be able to turn your side money into full-time riches in no time.

With all these resources available within arm’s reach, it would almost be silly not to make money flipping cars. You’ll start at square one but don’t let an uphill battle discourage your desire to succeed. Instead, think about how much money you can make after learning the ropes and remember that nothing worth having is ever free.

FAQ – How to Flip Cars and Make Money

Is it profitable to flip cars?

Yes, it is highly profitable to flip cars in the US. In fact, people all around the world are flipping cars and making a living from it.

Can you make money flipping old cars?

Yes, it is highly profitable to flip cars in the US. In fact, people all around the world are flipping cars and making a living from it.

Is car flipping legal?

Yes, car flipping is legal in US. And it’s also regulated by the government so you need to follow certain protocol by the book when dealing with cars and their owners.

How much profitability is there in flipping cars?

The profitability depends on the car, but generally speaking it’s very profitable to flip cars. You can make from a couple of hundred bucks to a few thousand dollars for each vehicle you flip. The more you know about the business, the more money you stand to make.

Can I really flip cars for a living?

Absolutely, you can really flip cars for a living. Many have already done it and are doing it right now. But always remember that you need to do enough research so as not to spend time on things that don’t work out or just waste your time and effort in the end.

Where is the best place to get cars to flip for profit?

There are plenty of places where you can get cars to flip for profit. You can buy from people off Craigslist, Kijiji, eBay, your local dealer… the list goes on and on – it’s up to you! But make sure when you’re sourcing for a vehicle that you know what you’re looking at and how much it’s worth.

How do you make money flipping cars?

There are many ways to make money flipping cars, but the most common way is by buying used or scrap cars at low prices and then repairing them so they can be sold for higher prices than what you bought them for.

How much money do you need to start flipping cars?

You don’t need much to get started flipping cars, but there are some basic things you should have aside from a vehicle. First off all, you should have the necessary tools and equipment to work on your car. This can be anything from wrenches, screwdrivers to torque wrenches, spray paint…the list goes on. You might also consider taking a course on car repairing if you don’t know the first thing about it.

What is the best way to make money flipping cars?

There isn’t really one single answer for this question, but we can give you some advice about what you should do and what you shouldn’t: – Don’t waste time and effort buying wrecked cars with the intention of making them good again, unless you know what you’re doing – Don’t spend too much on any car when buying it to flip it. You should always try to get lower prices than anyone else would pay for the same vehicle.

What do I have to worry about when flipping cars?

The only thing you really need to worry about is getting the job done. Whether repairing the car, selling it… no matter what; make sure you do it right and get a good price for your efforts.

Which is easier to get into, flipping cars or flipping houses?

Flipping cars is generally much easier to do than flipping houses or real estate. You don’t need much to start and you can make a good amount of money from it as well, instead of having to deal with banks and other paperwork.

Should I invest in stock or flip cars for profit?

Flipping cars is generally much easier to do than investing in stocks, but you can make money from both of them. Stocks are usually best for people who have more time and money to invest, while flipping cars usually requires less time and upfront money…but there’s also a lot more risk involved because you’re dealing with cars rather than just buying and selling stocks.

The best thing to do, though, is to take some of the profit you make from flipping cars and investing that into the stock market.

Advice for flipping vehicles?

Advice for flipping vehicles (and making money in general) is to always think about the return on your investment. What can you get out of this? How much will it cost you and what will you make back from your efforts? These are all things that need to be considered when you’re dealing with any type of business activity and especially flipping cars.