How to Sell Your Old Car and Get the Most For It
Figuring out what to do with your old vehicle can be one of the most difficult parts of buying a new one. This article gives you car selling tips that will help you weigh your options when getting rid of your old vehicle, be it trade-in or private sale, and walk you through each process so you can get the most for your old wheels no matter which option you choose.
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Price the Car
Before you even consider how you want to sell your vehicle, you’ll want to do some pricing research. Below are some resources that you can use to determine the approximate market value of your car, but a lot of the pricing process is based on you making a judgement call on its condition.
- Check out what Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds have to say. These sites offer calculators that determine private sale and trade-in prices based on the make, model, and condition of your vehicle. They’re the industry standard for car pricing, and are the same tools that the dealers use to come up with their pricing information.
- Compare listings in your local area. Since each local market is different, there’s no better reference than checking out used car listings in your area. Use the AutoTempest car search to find cars on Craigslist, eBay, AutoTrader, and many other used car listing sites and see what others in your area are asking for models similar to your own.
After doing some solid research, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect in return for your old ride. Remember to take into account the condition of your vehicle compared to the others you've found, as well as mileage, any modifications you’ve made since buying, and even things like rare coloring. Mods and non-standard options can make a car more valuable to the right buyer, but can also narrow down your market, making selling more difficult. (For unique rides, selling on eBay might be a good choice.)
Determine the Trade-In Value of Your Car
Regardless of how you will sell your car, take it in to your dealer to find out what they’ll offer as a trade-in value. Wait until after you’ve negotiated a price for the new vehicle though, or else the dealer may offer you what seems like a great deal on your trade-in, in exchange for jacking the price on the new car.
What they offer you will surely be lower than the prices you researched earlier, but that’s in exchange for the labor, time, and money the dealer puts into your vehicle getting it ready for sale (plus a cut for themselves, of course).
At best, the dealer could give you an offer near to what you get selling privately, making a trade-in a very appealing option.
At worst, this offer tells you the lowest amount you can get for your car if you must sell and can help you determine the amount of money you’d like to spend getting your vehicle ready for sale (preparing your car for sale will come later). Either way, feel free to make a counter-offer to try and increase the value.
You can also check out our full list of car buying advice guides and tools.