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Trade-in vs. Private sale

What to do with your old vehicle

by Autobytel Staff
May 31, 2007

There are two basic choices when deciding what to do with your old vehicle: sell it privately or trade it in.

You may receive a higher price but like most things, it will require additional work. First you must establish a value for your vehicle. Check with a reputable used car price guide such as Kelly Blue Book, online or at your local library. Watch your local newspaper's automotive advertising section for similar vehicles. It will help you set a fair price based on your local market. Be honest about the price and condition of your vehicle. You don't want to scare away potential buyers with an unrealistic price.

Advertise your vehicle in the local newspaper or auto sales magazine. Be sure to list the make, model and options, along with other pluses. Low mileage and certain features will raise the price of your vehicle.

Prepare your vehicle for resale by having the car cleaned and detailed by a professional detail shop. Having your car cleaned gives you an edge over other vehicles in the market. An attractive car can justify a higher selling price.

This may be a sensible way to go; the only drawback is that you may not get the best price. Trade-ins are easy because the dealers do all the paperwork and title transfers. You also walk away from the vehicle without any continuing liability. When you trade in, in some states you may be able to save on the sales tax of your new vehicle. The amount of tax may be based on the total sales price. This price may be reduced by the amount of the trade-in; thus less taxes would be assessed. The value of your trade can also provide you with a down payment for the new vehicle, provided you have equity in the vehicle. Remember, when you trade in you will generally receive less for your car than you would if you sold it outright. The dealer who accepts your trade must build in a margin for profit if he is going to resell your old vehicle. You will typically receive what is known as the wholesale value for the vehicle. Trade-ins are easy but you will pay for that convenience.

by Staff Photo credit: Automakers

Trade-In Value The value you may expect to be offered by a dealer when trading in your own used vehicle.

Private Party Value The value of a used vehicle in a transaction between two consumers.

Suggested Retail Value The asking price you may expect to find when shopping for a used vehicle from a dealer.


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