Flipping cars may sound difficult, but it can be a great way to earn some extra money. Flipping a car involves finding a good deal on a car, buying it, and reselling it at a higher price. Often, these cars need to be repaired or fixed up in order to get the most money out of them before they’re sold. In this article, we’ll share some tips about which cars are best to flip for profit so you can get the best deal for your time and money.
The Best Cars to Flip
While a car listed for $500 on Craigslist might seem like a steal, there may actually be no one who wants to pay anything more for that same car. You could be stuck with a car no one wants to buy. At the same time, you may gawk at a car priced at $10,000 without knowing it’s actually priced well below fair market value and will easily flip with little bit of repair work. Below, we outline some of the most popular types of cars to flip regardless of price, with a few specific examples listed for each.
Japanese Economy Cars
Brands like Honda and Toyota are known for their reliability and hassle-free maintenance. Japanese brands Acura, Honda, and Toyota were ranked as the top three most reliable auto manufacturers by CarMD’s Vehicle Health Index. They’re easy to find and are generally a good choice for anyone who needs basic transportation on a budget.
If you’re a beginner at flipping cars, a Japanese economy car may be the best choice since they are continuously popular and tend to have fewer major maintenance issues than cars from other international manufacturers.
Models to consider:
- Honda Civic and Accord
The Honda Civic and Honda Accord are two of the 10 best-selling cars of all time, so they’re easy to find and remain in high demand.
- Toyota Camry and Corolla
Most model years of the Toyota Corolla and Camry earn between four and five stars on Kelley Blue Book’s Expert Rating scale. The Corolla is also the best-selling car of all time, remaining a popular choice for its fuel efficiency and easy, inexpensive maintenance.
- Toyota Prius
Some sellers will list a Prius only because the hybrid battery is dead. If you find a Prius in this condition, you can replace the battery yourself with a rebuild kit — at a much more affordable price than getting a replacement battery from the manufacturer.
Vans, SUVs, and Pickup Trucks
Minivans and SUVs can make for profitable flips because there is a high demand for them, especially with families. Just as economy cars appeal to buyers looking for small, affordable options, minivans and SUVs appeal to those with a need for more seats or storage space.
Similar to flipping an economy car, you’ll want to look for vans or SUVs that are reliable, have low miles, and have minimal mechanical issues. Some model years of the Honda Odyssey, for example, are known to have major transmission problems which will cause most people to stay away; It’s a good idea to research the known issues associated with any model before buying it, even if you plan to repair it.
Models to consider:
- Dodge Grand Caravan
This model appeals to buyers because it is affordable and its third-row seating folds away completely (a feature introduced in 2005), making it great for those who need extra seats, need a large amount of storage space, or both.
- GMC Yukon
The GMC Yukon is among the most long-lasting SUVs, which will appeal to used buyers. Additionally, Yukon owners have reported that over half of the SUV’s necessary repairs cost under $500.
- Honda Odyssey
Buyers like the Honda Odyssey for its strong safety ratings. Maintenance and repair costs are also lower than average for the Odyssey.
- Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is the fastest-selling SUV on the market as of 2018 and, as such, should be very easy to sell after repairing it. The RAV4 Hybrid also sells well with used buyers.
- Toyota Sienna
The Toyota Sienna holds three of the top five spots on U.S. News’ list of the best used minivans under $20,000. This minivan is known for having a more comfortable interior than many other models.
Additionally, pickup trucks can be promising flips if there is a strong local market for them. In areas with a lot of small businesses like landscaping, pressure washing, or dog grooming, for example, you may find a higher demand for light-duty trucks.
Many people have classic “project” cars that they’ve never finished or that they have put in long term storage and would like to sell, rather than fix up on their own. Sometimes these cars only need a new battery, a set of tires, or a clean carburetor in order to get them running again. Some classic cars have vibrant collector communities, but there aren’t typically as many buyers for classic cars, so be aware that selling can be more difficult than it would be for newer models. Be sure to consider the cost and hassle of finding new parts for some older cars, too.
Models to consider:
- Chevrolet Bel Air (1950s)
Reproduction parts for Bel Airs are affordable and easy to find, while used parts are readily available as well, giving you plenty of options when making any necessary repairs to a Bel Air flip.
- Chevrolet Nova (1968 – 1970)
Parts for Novas are easy to find, since over one million of these cars were made. Wilson Auto Repair recommends choosing a two-door Nova, since they are more popular (and therefore easier to resell) than the four-door version.
- Ford Mustang (1964 – 1968)
Parts for Mustangs are easy to find, and Mustangs are one of the most popular classic cars, so you should have no trouble finding the parts you need to repair/restore one — or finding a buyer.
The Best Places to Flip a Car (Where to Buy and Sell)
Craigslist can connect you with local, inexpensive cars to flip and is also one place to find potential buyers for your car once you are ready to sell. You can also check out your local buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook and the Facebook Marketplace. If you’re interested in buying and selling to a wider audience, you can also use tools like Autotrader. Autotrader can be particularly helpful for selling classic cars, since it gives you access to a relatively small market.
Keep your eyes open while driving around your city, too. Often, car owners who wish to sell would rather deal with buyers in person than online and will simply put a “For Sale” sign in the window of the car. If you drive past a car that looks like it would flip easily, take down the number on the sign and try to work out something with the owner. You may also find cars that are for sale at local car shows, especially if you’re looking for classic cars.
Wherever you’re buying, be sure to ask a lot of questions to get a clear picture of the car’s history, including any repairs or restorations that have already been made. Before getting started, you should also note that there are a few catches to flipping cars. Depending on where you live, it may be illegal to buy and sell more than a certain amount of cars per year. It may also be illegal or unwise to “float a title” — this is when the original seller signs the title and you sell the car to a new buyer without first transferring the title to your name.
Check out our how-to guide on flipping cars for profit to get more detail about whether or not you can flip cars legally. You may also want to see our articles, Can you drive a car with no plates if you just bought it? and How many cars have you have in your name at once?
If you want to begin flipping cars, there are several options to start with, from reliable economy cars to minivans to classic cars. With a little bit of research and a willingness to put time and effort into repairs, you can make some extra money flipping cars.