Selling Used Cars: Trade in or Private?

How to get the most money out of your sale

Probably the most boring topic you have to deal with when you shop for a used car is having to do something with your old car. You're getting rid of it, hoping never to see it again. Before you sell your used car it can give you one last moment of grief or one last moment of pleasure. What you do with it can cause massive swings in the value of the car to you, for instance whether you sell it privately or trade it in. So how do you make sure you're doing the right thing.

The risk level and the difficulty of the way you sell your car will influence the money that you get from your old car. Should you trade it in for a new car at a dealer then you will get the lowest value. Dealers are in the money-making business, so they will not overpay for your car, and once they have bought your car they will have to resell it as well and that takes time and money. The money they have to spend is on a safety inspection, a thorough cleaning, perhaps some minor repairs and then the dealer overhead. Despite the protests of the dealer saying he can't make any money on the car you trade-in, you can be pretty sure that he will make money on it. If he isn't making money on it then they will make money on the car selling to you.

Should you be giving him a nice looking car with only modest mileage than he may keep it on the lot and sell it from there. If it is a tired old vehicle he will send it to an auction so it will end up on somebody else's car lot.

Should you not be under too much time pressure, you have other options open to you. Even if you want to do a trade in you can shop for the best trade-in valuation of the car. It'll take time, but you can go to a lot of dealers and find out who will give you what. They get a lot less wiggle room once they know you are doing this, and you are able to compare the true bottom-line cost of the whole transaction.

If you want to get the most money you can from your old car, then your best bet is to sell it to a private buyer, which can net you sometimes thousands more than a trade-in. To sell it yourself you will have to clean it and maybe carry out some essential repairs. Get the paperwork in order and then advertise it having done the research to find the market valuation.

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