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How to Quickly Figure Out What a Dealer Will Pay

If you're wanting to sell your car and don't want the bother of selling it to a private party, then your other option is to sell it to a dealership.

It's nice to have an idea of what a dealer will pay for your car without having to go through the negotiation process first. This will allow you determine if it's even worth selling to a dealer in the first place.

Here's a little trick you can use: Visit a car classifieds site such as or AutoTrader and search for the closest match to your car within your area.

Make sure the listings are from dealers and pay attention to the list price. This price typically has a 20% profit built into it (although some high-volume dealers may limit this to as low as 10%). If the dealer is listing the car for $10,000, there is usually $2,000 of wiggle room. This doesn't mean the dealer paid $8,000 for the car, however.

After a dealer buys your car, they will incur some costs to fix any damage, repair any mechanical problems and replace worn tires or other accessories. A dealer will usually spend between $250 and $500 preparing the vehicle for sale.

So all you need to do to get an idea of what a dealer will pay for your car is to check the listing prices of similar cars, take 80% of that price and subtract $250 to $500 to get your "rough estimate".

If the car for sale is "factory certified", subtract another $1,000 from the price - this is because dealers invest extra money to get the cars certified.

Let's go through an example. Assume similar "factory certified" cars in your area are listed for $10,000. Take 80% of that - $8,000 - then subtract $1,000 for the certification, then another $250 to $500 for dealer preparation fees and you get: $6,500 to $6,750. That's the ballpark figure you'll get if you were to sell your car to a dealership.

Remember, this is only a ball-park figure. To get the true value, you'll need to shop your car around to multiple dealers.

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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