Automobiles are one of the few things in life you can
sell yourself or trade in when you decide to upgrade. After all, when
was the last time your local appliance store gave you a few bucks
for your old washing machine when you bought a new one?
So what's the best way to get rid of your old car?
Should you sell it yourself or settle for a dealer trade-in? It
depends on what your vehicle has to offer and the payoff you want.
"Trade-in is prepackaged food. It's not as good
as homemade, but it is convenient," says Mark Perleberg, lead
auto expert with NADAguides.com.
"Selling it yourself is like a home-cooked meal.
It takes more effort."
That extra effort, however, can boost your profit.
The case for selling
Selling your old car takes more time and know-how, but you can potentially
get more money than when trading it in.
That's because you cut out the middleman, the
dealer who must spend money to advertise and spruce up your car before
he resells it at a profit. The dealer considers those costs before
arriving at the amount he'll give you for your old auto.
A dealer's cut of the profit is what prompts many
car owners to opt for self-selling. But remember, you're then
going to face many of the same issues that
the car dealer would.
If your vehicle is older or in less-than-pristine
shape, you'll probably have to get it detailed to make it attractive
to buyers. You may even have to spend money on repairs.
You also have to consider your time investment in
marketing the vehicle and showing it to prospective buyers, which
would most likely be on weekends or evenings.
If you do decide to sell, realistically assess your
auto's marketability. Charlie Vogelheim, former executive editor
of the automobile price guide Kelley Blue Book, notes that selling
a Toyota, a popular brand, is a lot easier than trying to market
Location also comes into marketing play. A two-wheel
drive sport utility vehicle might sell quickly in Florida, but will
be shunned in harsher climes where four-wheel drive is a winter-driving
necessity. Sales appeal can even extend to color. "White, silver
and black are popular colors," Vogelheim says. "Purple
When your car does sell, you'll have to orchestrate
payment. No personal checks, please, but what about a cashier's
check from the buyer? How about monthly payments?
"You have to decide what type of payment you'll
accept, which adds to what some people might call the hassle part
(of selling a car)," says Vogelheim.
hassle is the paperwork you'll need to complete to ensure that ownership is transferred
correctly. Do you have the title? Do you know what your state requires when a
car is sold to another consumer?