Car Flipping 101: Make Over $200/day Flipping Cars

If you love cars and see them as a potential way to make money, car flipping for a profit can be fun. Car flipping is the art of buying used vehicles at low prices and selling them quickly for a profit.

To be a successful auto flipper, you need to know where to find cars, what to look for in each vehicle, how to get deals, and how to be a savvy salesman.

Cars are something special. Almost every family depends on one, drawing from people’s emotions and creative desires. They are expensive too. For these reasons, car flipping is extremely popular and worth it knowing what you are doing.

This article will discuss the most critical facts you need to know about flipping cars and how flipping your vehicle for a profit can be rewarding, easy, and fun.

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What Is Car Flipping?

Like in real estate flipping, car flipping is buying cars at a low price and selling such vehicles at a higher price.

A car flipper identifies vehicles at reasonable prices that can be sold at a higher price after overhaul and marketing to a larger market.

What Are The Benefits Of Car Flipping?

The demand for used cars is currently increasing in all price ranges. With internet sales, you can open up a worldwide market. Car lovers who work as car flippers have so much fun doing that and making money, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to get started.

Whether you want to sell cars part-time or full-time is up to you. Vendors include college students flipping cars over for a side-hustle and those who are so good at it that they start flipping cars for a living.

Another benefit is that you can drive a car you like for a while before you sell it. You will get back your cash investment when you sell the vehicle.

How To Flip Cars Without A Dealer License

Before rushing to an auto auction or contacting a private seller on Craigslist, there are a few things you need to know about how to flip cars.

First, find out about the laws in your state regarding car sales. States have different limits on the number of cars you can own or sell without needing a dealer license.

Once you know how many cars your state allows, you may want to invest in a dealership license or make arrangements to pay a local licensed auto dealer for your records.

Working with a new or used car dealer may cost you a few hundred dollars, but it can help you make several thousands of extra cash year-round. It could also help get the paperwork done correctly, and it could even free up your time.

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# 1. Understand The Local Used Car Market

Your goals as a good car flipper are to find a good car at a low price, make sure you can fix it quickly and safely, and sell it for a higher price quickly. A high-profit margin gives you funds to invest in your next vehicle or to save or spend as you see fit.

If you are flipping over cars at a profit, you should aim for low-mileage vehicles made by well-known automakers such as Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, and Toyota.

There is always a high demand for efficient sedans, compact SUVs, and inexpensive hatchbacks.

Bright car flippers consider climate and terrain when buying and selling cars. Convertibles and sunroof cars are popular in warm, sunny temperatures. All-wheel drive vehicles are big sellers in areas with lots of snow or hilly conditions.

#2. Know Where Car Flippers Find Cars

If you don’t have a dealer license, public auctions are an excellent place to find cars without spending a lot of money. Public auction vehicles include lender repossessions, cars that the government has confiscated for tax back payments, real estate liens or forfeiture, and abandoned vehicles.

Craigslist is another source of great deals, especially if you prefer to negotiate with a private seller rather than bidding on public auctions. The free classifieds feature many cars ready to flip and motivated sellers.

Another plus is that you don’t have to pay anyone a percentage of the sale price. On the other hand, many scammers use Craigslist. You need to be knowledgeable and vigilant when looking for a good car or selling a vehicle on the job site.

EBay Motors is a similar option to Craigslist – but more regulated one. It offers various vehicles but charges high fees for successful listings. Many consumers have complained that it is often unable to monitor dodgy or fraudulent sellers adequately.

Other sources of car flipping include ads in traditional newspaper sections, “For Sale” ads in town, and cars with “For Sale” signs parked in the neighborhood.

Just don’t expect lower prices from your local dealer. Their prices have hefty profit margins built in no matter what kind of offer they are offering you.

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# 3. Setting The Budget For Flipping Your Car

When determining the budget for your first auto-flip, experienced people will suggest a starting amount of $1,500. That gives you enough to buy a decent car at an auction with moderate to high miles while leaving room to make a profit of $500 to $800.

The same experts say you should set a top-end limit of $5,000. They know the more money you spend, the fewer buyers you can find when you sell the car.

Allow cash to make your purchase. Credit cards may be accepted when you buy at auctions, but you don’t want to carry credit card interest on your profit margin.

Extra cash for your first car flip is a good idea. A good rule of thumb is half of your shopping budget.

# 4. Know How To Value A Car

If you are turning over cars for profit, you need to know how to rate a vehicle. There’s still a lot of research before entering car auctions or bidding on vehicles that you see on Craigslist or in ads.

Sites like and offer price guides and owner lists of various makes, models, years, and trims for popular cars. This information will help you find undervalued vehicles and can generate high-profit margins.

Look for cars that are in demand and below the market price. Avoid vehicles with aftermarket features like fancy spoilers or spoilt exhausts. They are challenging to sell in general markets and do not bring great returns.

You don’t want to be stuck with a slow-selling car selling for a lower price than you want, or worse, one that is not selling at all.

# 5. Find Out How Long The Car Has Been Sitting

Asking questions about the car will provide information about its value and how much investment it might take. Car flippers know that if a vehicle has not been driven in a long time, things can break once it’s running again or require significant maintenance before being sold again.

When considering an older, low-mileage car, you should keep this information in mind. This could mean that the car needs additional work.

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#6. Inspect Car’s Exterior And Interior

Whether you are at an auction or viewing the car from a private owner, you need to check the exterior and interior of the vehicle.

The main thing to look out for on the outside is the signs of rust. Check the wheel arches, dents, dents in the roof rails, and the lower fenders of the vehicle. Repairing rust can be time-consuming and costly.

Also, pay attention to how clean the vehicle is. Wet tissue or your finger with water and run it on the side of the car. A good wash will improve the vehicle’s look if dirt comes off easily.

When inspecting the vehicle interior, look for defects such as damaged upholstery, stained or faded floors, and poor instrumentation and lighting. If you can get in or fold the windows, run the sniff test for bad smells, including smoke, old food, and pet odors.

Look for hanging deodorants, sprays, or other measures to mask odors. Neutralizing bad smells may not be worth your extra cost if this is to be a flip on the low end.

# 7. Check Under The Hood

One key to a flip car’s value is how it looks under the hood. Car flipping experts know that a vehicle with a dirty engine bay will likely require costly attention that will affect profit margins.

For example, contaminated oil can be repaired with an oil change, but evidence of an engine oil leak can mean expensive repairs and a deal-breaker.

Check the belts with the engine off. Worn or frayed belts must be replaced, costing you hundreds of dollars. No water should come out of the radiator, and it should be at an average temperature.

Overheating or a leaking radiator means the vehicle needs to be fixed, which means less profit for you. Check the hoses. Replacing a radiator hose can cost $200 or more.

# 8. Check The Vehicle History

Once you’ve identified a car that interests you and its price is in your target range, check the vehicle’s history before taking a test drive.

Use the 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and do verification with two free websites, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration sponsors the first. Find out if the car has been repaired as part of a safety recall in the past 15 years.

The second website will tell you if the current owner legally purchased the car and provide up-to-date information on car theft.

Using the VIN and purchasing a Carfax or AutoCheck vehicle history report is also advisable. These reports will tell you if any accidents have occurred and if the title or ownership has changed.

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# 9. Take A Test Drive

When testing a vehicle, especially before an auction, pay particular attention to how the transmission works.

If the car has an automatic transmission and there is a delay of more than two seconds between shifting and engaging, that’s a bad sign. Likely, the vehicle will soon need a new or converted transmission.

Checking the brakes is also vital for your test drive. Get up to a good speed on a clear, dry road, let your passengers know that you will suddenly stop. Step hard on the brakes.

The car should stop quickly, smoothly, and in a straight line. If the car’s stroke is crooked or shaky, you’ve worn brakes that need replacing. While it might not ruin the deal, it is another potential bite of your profit margin.

#10. Know How To Make Offers

Whether in an auction or facing a private party seller, stay relaxed and remain emotionless. At auctions, ensure you know the bidding rules promptly and are not involved in a bidding war that will take you over your budget.

If you miss a car, don’t be stressed because there’s always another one waiting. When dealing with private sellers, ask them why they are selling.

The answer can give insight into how low you can go with your offer. Make a cash offer below the asking price, and don’t be afraid to walk away if it isn’t a low price for you.

# 11. Get Ready To Flip The Car

Once you have the vehicle and track, it’s time to prepare the car for flipping. Get complete diagnostic checks of the vehicle systems and have repairs done by reputable mechanics.

You never want to sell an unsafe car to someone.

However, skip repairs that are not a safety issue do not add to the vehicle’s resale value. Thoroughly clean the car inside and out.

Depending on the make, model, condition, and budget, you may want to have it professionally detailed. It’s often surprising how much better an exact vehicle will look.

When it’s ready, your next steps will be pricing, listing, and selling your car.

# 12. Pricing And Selling Your Car

Use the KBB and Edmunds websites above to set a fair list price and rock bottom dollar number that is as low as you want.

Take into account the car’s actual condition and use your zip code for values. Advertise in the places that are most likely to reach your target market.

Show the vehicle in a safe place and avoid driving alone. Remember, you don’t necessarily want to sell the car. So, wait before you hit rock bottom. Accept cash only and give the buyer a detailed sales contract and receipt with the free and unique title.


Making money from flipping cars can be fun and rewarding. With thorough research, patience, and a positive attitude, you can create a new and flexible source of income that will put extra cash in your pocket and buyers into safe, affordable vehicles.

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