Selling Your Car
1. The Basics
When selling a car, you generally have two options: sell to a private party or sell to a dealer.
Those who buy a new or used car from a dealer usually trade-in their current vehicle as part of the transaction - mainly because it's convenient and easy. But this convenience comes at a huge cost.
If you sell to a dealer, you're getting wholesale value for the vehicle, whereas if you sell to a private party, you're getting close to retail value. The difference can be several thousand dollars.
It seems like a no-brainer, so why doesn't everyone sell their vehicle to a private party? Well, because it takes more time and effort - plus some view it as risky to invite strangers over.
Despite these drawbacks, I highly recommend selling your car to a private party - especially if it has over 100,000 miles or been in an accident. You'll end up saving $100 to $350 per hour spent on the effort.
To help you decide, use the following pricing guides to determine what your car is currently worth.
Take these prices with a grain of salt, they're meant to be ballpark figures.
2. Selling to Private Party
There's huge demand for used cars today. If it's in good condition, you should have no problem selling it to a private party.
Why sell to a dealer who resells it for a $2,000 profit? Cut out the middle man and pocket the extra cash yourself. Seems simple but most people are too lazy or think it's too much of a hassle.
If you think it's too much hassle, consider this: selling your car to a dealer is no picnic either. In order to do it right, you need to take the vehicle to several dealers, have them appraise it, and negotiate with each one. At least with a private party sale, the buyers come to you.
If you price the car realistically and promote it on the recommended classified sites, you should sell it quickly and easily. Just don't be too impatient - especially if your vehicle is not a popular model.
Has over 3 million cars listed for sale. Costs as little as $15 to add your car listing.
Another huge site that has millions of used cars for sale. Listings start at $20
Contains the largest listing of cars for sale by owner. $5 to add a for-sale-by-owner ad (used to be free).
Their local classifieds section will display your ad to anyone within a 200 mile radius of your location. (and it's free)
3. Selling to Dealer / Trading-In
- Why You Must Shop Your Trade-In
- How to Shop Your Used Car to Dealers
- How to Figure Out What a Dealer Will Pay
- How to Negotiate the Price with Dealers
- Always Negotiate Trade-in Separately
- What Dealers do With Your Trade-In
- Tricks Dealers Use on Your Trade-In
- Beware if You Owe Money on Your Trade-In
- States That Allow Trade-in Tax Credit
If convenience and saving time is your top priority - and you don't mind losing out on a thousand dollars or more - then selling to a dealer is your best alternative.
But at least do it right!
By right, I mean shop your car to several dealers and have them compete to offer you the highest price. Don't just trade it in to the first dealer. It's basic supply and demand - make it work in your favor.
Dealers know most shoppers are clueless and don't take the time to do this. If you think you're going to get a good deal on your trade-in without shopping it around, you're crazy!
And yes, shopping it around means you have to physically take your car from dealer to dealer and have them appraise its value. Never trust an offer from a dealer who hasn't inspected your vehicle first-hand.
Furthermore, NEVER co-mingle the negotiation of your trade-in with a new car purchase. Keep everything separate or you'll fall into a common (and costly) dealer trap.
Although I recommend selling your car to a private party, if you insist on doing a trade-in, you might as well do it right. Follow these steps to maximize your savings.