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Finding the Best Value for Your Used Truck

By: Chris TeaguePublished May 4, 2022

Private Sales

Selling your truck to an individual is the best way to get top dollar because people generally aren’t in the business of reselling vehicles for a profit. Additionally, individual buyers don’t have the overhead that a dealer does, such as employees, large real estate holdings, and more, so their decision to buy a car isn’t necessarily driven by how much profit they think is in it. You can get more money for your car selling to an individual, but keep in mind that there can be quite a bit of paperwork that accompanies vehicle sales, so you should be prepared to handle things on your own. This can include a bill of sale, title transfer, and financial work with a bank. 

It's also worth noting that selling to an individual means you can list your truck in local papers and other listing services. Because you’re not dealing with a large company or auction service, you can list offline, which may lead to an easier sale dealing with local people instead of out-of-staters.

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Auction

If your truck is a desirable model or a collectible, you can earn great money selling through an auction site, especially one that focuses on nice vehicles. Enthusiasts gravitate to auction sites because they know the vehicle selection is likely to be in line with their interests, and as a result, they’re willing to pay more. That can be a very good thing for your wallet, but you’ve got to make sure you’re accurately describing the vehicle and that you understand its condition and backstory. One risk of selling to a crowd of knowledgeable people is that it’s easy to get bogged down by detailed technical questions that you don’t understand. 

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Dealer Trade-In or Sale

If you’re looking to sell your truck to fund the purchase of another vehicle, it can be easy to trade in and use the value of the old truck toward the new one. The dealer handles all of the paperwork, and all you really have to do is show up with the vehicle. Dealers work with hundreds of vehicles each month and can either resell your truck or send it off to auction. 

You can also opt to sell your truck to the dealer if you don’t want to buy a new one. The trade-in value you get for your truck may still hold for a basic sale, but some offer less because they aren’t selling a vehicle to you at the same time. 

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Instant Cash Offer

The most convenient way to sell your truck is to obtain an instant cash offer, which means that a company offers to pay you and take the vehicle, sometimes without a physical inspection. Companies like Carvana and Vroom offer quick and easy vehicle purchasing that begins online and ends with a driver picking up your truck. You don’t have to leave home, you may not be required to submit the truck for an inspection, and you get a check in-hand when the truck is picked up. The downsides here are that these services don’t buy all makes and models, and they may not buy your truck if it’s been damaged or if it has high mileage. It’s also important to note that you pay for the convenience of an instant cash offer in real money, as they don’t typically pay top dollar. 

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How to Assess Your Truck’s Value 

Before you can sell your truck, you need to get a handle on its market value. You can get an offer or view the value of your vehicle at a number of websites, including Usedcars.com. You’ll be required to enter the truck’s year, make, model, mileage, condition, and more. Valuation tools use real-world sales data and an algorithm to determine a vehicle’s value, but there’s no consistent definition of how to calculate a vehicle value, so you’ll notice that each service shows a slightly different price. Interestingly, dealers use similar tools to obtain a value for your vehicle, but they have access to non-public sales data that can much more accurately determine the value.

Many valuation services offer a range of numbers when you enter your vehicle information. You’ll generally see estimated values for private party/individual sales, trade-in values, and a clean retail value. These are not guarantees of what you can expect when you sell your truck, but they should give you a good idea of what you can get.

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FAQ

Can I sell my truck without a title?

No. The title is a crucial document that proves legal ownership, so you can’t sell a truck if you can’t prove you own it. It’s easy to get a replacement title from your state, but return times vary, so it’s best to check with your local DMV.

What is the best way to sell my used truck?

The “best way” depends completely on what you’re looking to get out of the experience. If making money is your priority and you don’t mind a little hassle, a private sale is the way to go. If you can’t be bothered with paperwork and sales listings, selling to a dealer or pursuing an instant cash offer is your best bet.

How can I sell my truck quickly?

It’s fast and easy to sell to a local dealership, but remember that speed and convenience don’t always equate to the best price. You can also price the truck aggressively and attempt to sell to an individual, but if you’re already discounting the price, it might be best to let a dealer do the paperwork.

What do I need to sell my truck?

The exact process varies from state to state, but in general, you’ll need:

  • The title for proof of ownership: You’ll need to sign the title over to the buyer.
  • Bill of sale: A bill of sale shows the buyer and seller, purchase price, and other information. This document is used during registration and title transfer.
  • Title transfer application: Transferring a title is an important step. Check with your DMV if you’re unsure about how to proceed.

Can I sell if I have a loan?

Absolutely, as long as you don’t owe more than the truck is worth. If that's the case, it’s easier to sell to a dealer or online service because they have the ability to pay off your loan and issue you a check for the difference. If you’re selling to an individual, you’ll need to pay off the loan and obtain the title before you can complete the sale. 

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