There are two primary ways to sell your car: trade it in when you buy a new vehicle, or sell it privately to another individual. Generally, you’ll get more money selling your car privately, but trading in your car can be much easier. You just have to settle for less money because the dealer you’re buying your new car from acts like a middleman for your used car and uses the trade-in to make a profit for himself. But regardless of how you sell your car, when the time comes, you want to make sure you get the most money possible.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure you get the most money for your used car:
Figure out the right asking price. We’re lucky enough to live in the age of the internet, so all you have to do is visit a few different sites like Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book and Cars.com, and answer some questions to get a good idea of the value of your car. If you’re selling your car privately, set your price on the high end of the competitive range so that you have room to negotiate down. Also, keep market conditions in mind: You may be able to get more for a car with great gas-mileage when gas prices are high, and convertibles tend to be more in-demand when the weather is warm.
Make your car look its best. A clean car looks like it’s been well-maintained, and will therefore command a higher dollar value. Thus, regardless of whether you are selling privately or trading in, it’s worth getting your car detailed. You will generally recoup more than the cost of the detail work in the selling price of your car.
Organize the paperwork. This is particularly important if you are selling your car privately. Be prepared to document maintenance work and repairs – you can command a higher price if you can show the car has been regularly and properly serviced. You’ll also need your car’s title and original sales paperwork.
Prepare an appealing ad or listing. If you’re selling your car privately, crafting a good ad can have a huge impact on getting the price you want. Be sure to take good photos, provide the appropriate details, advertise in the right places, and be wary of potential scams.
Negotiate your trade-in separately. If you are trading in your car, don’t mention your trade-in until after you’ve negotiated the price of your new vehicle. You don’t want the dealer to inflate the price of your new purchase by taking into account the value of your trade-in. Once you’ve agreed upon the value of your trade-in, it’s best to apply that amount as a credit toward your new purchase. This move will likely allow you to avoid paying sales tax on that amount (which can save you hundreds of dollars!).