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Should I Trade In My Car or Sell It Myself?

By: StaffPublished September 24, 2021

Below, we make arguments for trading in your old vehicle and selling it yourself. Read the pros and cons of each choice, evaluate your needs, and proceed with confidence.

  • Hassle Free – The strongest case for trading in a car is simply that it’s much easier than selling it yourself. By trading your car into the dealer when you purchase your new car, you could be saving yourself months of headaches trying to sell your old car.
  • Quick – If you need the money from your old car to make your next purchase, you may not want to wait out the sale of your vehicle. Trading in your old vehicle usually only adds less than an hour to the sales process.
  • Tax Advantage – In most states, if you trade in your old car, you only pay tax on the difference between the price of the trade in and the price of the new car. Because of this, a trade in worth a several thousand dollars could be worth hundreds of dollars more.
  • Lower Price – The trade-in price for a used car is usually thousands of dollars less than the private sale price. This is because dealers clean and fix traded cars, then sell them at a nice profit.
  • New Car Price Increase – Dealers know how just how low they can afford to bargain on each and still make a profit. When they find out a buyer may trade in an old car, salesmen often do not offer discounts that they normally would. The result is a much less impressive deal than most consumers know.
  • Best Value – The main reason people decide to take on the hassles of selling the car themselves is they can command a much higher price for their car on the open market than they could with a dealer.
  • Flexibility – What if you want to keep driving your used car for a few months after buying your new one? Or you’re thinking about donating your vehicle to charity? Or you’d rather buy your next car from a private seller? You wouldn’t have any of these options of you decide to trade in your car at a dealership.
  • Cash – Selling your old car yourself before buying your next one can give you cash for a bigger down payment. A large down payment will save you money on financing and give you a better position for bargaining.
  • Hassle – Simply put, selling a car yourself via private party ads is often one headache after another. You need to worry about cleaning the car, placing ads, scheduling appointments, and dealing with rude people.
  • Time – Selling a used car takes time. You should be willing to keep it on the market for as long as it takes to sell, making yourself available for test drives and phone calls.
  • Financing – If you still owe money on your car, a private sale may be difficult or even impossible. Learn about your state’s regulations to find out what you have to do to sell a vehicle that still has a lien on it.
  • Paperwork – It’s up to you to figure out what paperwork needs to be completed in order to sell a car yourself. Complications like a lien against you can make the paperwork process even longer.

Is it worth it to leave thousands of dollars on the table to save yourself weeks or months of hassle? Then trading in your old vehicle is probably the way to go. If you’re prepared to spend a little extra time and energy to maximize the value of your investment, however, the selling the car yourself is the way to go. Which will you choose?

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