(Closed) Trading in a car v. selling yourself

posted 6 years ago in Home
Post # 3
1939 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

You’ll likely get more money if you sell it yourself, but it’s much more of a hassle. Also, people are less likely to buy from you because if something goes wrong, it turns into a headache since there are no guarantees or warranties when you buy a car directly from an owner. Before you do anything, research the lemon law in your state just in case.

Even if you do decide to go the trade in route, it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to walk away with putting little to no money down. Your car, no matter what the condition, is 4 years old. So you’ll be getting a fraction of its value. Even if you buy an older car, you’ll have to put money up, otherwise it’s not worth it for the dealership. I recommend taking it to a mechanic first for a full work up so you know of any issues because the dealership is going to try to say you have x,y,z, issues that need fixing and so they are offering you $x amount less because of that.

Also, keep in mind that kelly blue book values are seriously inflated. Check out the NADA guide for a more realistic idea of what your car is worth. Don’t underestimate the fact that because of the economy, SVUs are harder for the dealers to move because they are more expensive to run and get less mileage. You might be offered less because of that. 

That being said, I’m far from a car expert, so I’m just offering what little I know! Good luck!

Post # 4
1498 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

There really is no simple cut and dry answer for this.

Honestly, dealerships are not going to send you off the lot with any cash in your hand regardless of how much either vehicle is valued. That isn’t how the business works. Your larger SUV will be a lot harder for them to sell because of the economy. The trade in value rarely comes even close to what people expect. It’s based on

  1. How much money the dealership needs to invest in your vehicle to make it sellable (even if its in good shape, it’ll need to be checked out, maybe tuned up, cleaned up, advertised, etc).
  2. How much time its going to take to move your vehicle. Like I said, a larger SUV moves much slower in this economy because of gas prices, environmental awareness, etc. The longer that vehicle sits on the lot, the more the value depreciates which isn’t good for a seller.
  3. How much profit the dealership will make. Again, this ties back to how easily it will be to sell your truck. Most people are looking for smaller, fuel efficient vehicles now.

Selling by owner can be a big hassel because a lot of people are either looking for a better deal than they will get at a dealership or are not able to obtain financing.  Those who are looking for a better deal are going to try to haggle with you more. Those who cannot obtain financing will be looking to get the price down as low as they can since they will have to pay out of pocket at the time of sale. When selling by owner, you also have to factor in that people may not be willing to give you what you want. And when that happens, you have to just wait it out until the next person comes along. It may take days, week, or months to make a sale. You have to be prepared to turn down offers or drop your price.

Either way you do it requires time, energy, and doing some research. I’m no car expert either but my extended family owns a few dealerships so this is all info that I’ve picked up along the way.

Post # 5
6574 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

I think it really just depends on a lot of factors.

My parents bought my first car for me in HS, and I drove it until I left for college. They sold it outright by owner, and gave me the cash to put towards a new car. I bought a brand new car and drove that sucker for over 8 years.

Just last fall I decided to finally get a new car. My old car was pretty ragged out – I’d been hard on it over the years. I had a 2003 loaded Chevy Malibu, so while nice, not really sought after (like a honda would be) and it had a lot of miles. I opted to trade it in, because even though I could have probably gotten another $600 selling on my own, it honestly wasn’t worth the hassle. I was more worried that something would go wrong that would cost me – so when the dealership told me what they’d give me I did the deal. I bought a much more expensive small SUB (Toyota Highlander which I LOVE LOVE LOVE) so I defintiely had to put money down…BUT, the interest rates were amazing when I bought.

Post # 6
1137 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to get a new car. My old car was approaching 100,000 miles and was beginning to have some small things go wrong that cost a lot of money to fix (radio display went out = $1,000 to see my channels again!).

I went to a dealership and they offered me a $6,500 trade-in value.

I posted it for sale on craigslist with nice pictures and description for $10,000 and within 24 hours, I had 6 people inquire. I met those interested in the parking lot of the police station so they could check out the vehicle and take it for a test drive.

One person offered me $9,500. We went to the Secretary of State together, filled out the paperwork to transfer title. I walked away with a nice down payment on my new car, and they drove the car away.

Easy as pie and well worth the extra $3,000!

Post # 7
5670 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2010

If the dealerships want to sell you a new car, they will give you KBB value. It took 3-4 hours of negotiations and aggravation but I got the KBB value that I walked in there asking for. You are in a good position since your car still runs and sound like it is in really good shape. It is a hassle to deal with the dealership but it’s also a headache trying to sell it on your own.

So in 2007 we purchased a brand new Altime for $18k when the 2008 models came out. Darling Husband put almost 90k miles on the car from 2007-2011. In 2011 when the 2012 models came out we traded in the Altima and got $12k for the vehicle from the dealership and we puchased a Pathfinder for $26k. So we ended up putting nothing down and financed the $14k remaining in addition to the taxes and fees. We ended up getting a great deal, but we did out research beforehand in regards to how much our car was worth and also how much dealership were selling similar cars for. We also knew what we went in to buy and also what prices their competitors were selling them for.

Post # 8
1659 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

You’ll get more money selling on your own, but it will take much longer and you’ll need to do a lot more work to make it happen. If you trade your car in, the dealership will give you a number based on several factors (basically, how much money they can make off of your car when they resell it) and apply that to the purchase price of the car you want to buy kind of as your down payment. If you’re trying to trade in your car for a 1999 Kia Sportage then you might be able to make an even trade but it’s more likely that you’ll need to bring money or finance on top of your trade in.

Try it out – call a dealership selling a car yoou’d be interested in and tell them what you want to do, make an appointment, and see how it goes. You are absolutely not obligated to buy (but don’t tell the salesguy you aren’t buying) but the you can get a better idea of the process and see what they can put together for you.

Post # 9
2086 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2012 - Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

Sell it yourself!

I looked up the value for my 1999 Explorer on multiple websites (google selling your car and you’ll find the right ones).  I cleaned it, had it waxed, took it in to the dealer for a check up, and then took a ton of pictues of it. I listed it on Craigslist for a little less than Kelly Blue Book Value.

I had non-stop emails and it was sold in a week to a guy in the country who loves Explorers.  If you market the car properly, you can sell it.  I was a little emotion in my ad (I loved this car and so will you).  🙂


If I had done a trade in, I would have probably gotten $500-900 less than what I got selling the car myself.  The only “hassle” was answering Craigslist inquiries from people who were flakey and dropping off some sort of paperwork at the DMV.  It was no big deal at all.


By The Way, if you go the trade-in route, DO NOT tell the dealer you are trading in.  Sometimes, they make their final offer sound “special” because you have a trade in.  Or, the price won’t be as great because they’ll think you need a new car.  If you don’t seem desperate, they may give you a better deal to entice you and THEN you want to tell them that you decided to trade in after all.

Post # 10
2086 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2012 - Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

By The Way, I did ALL negotiating by email when I bought my car.  I did not step into a dealership until I was picking up my car.

Do some googling…there’s great information out there that will help you avoid the often annoying trip to the dealership.

Post # 11
11233 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

I’ve sold two cars on my own. I sold my 1997 Chevy Blazer for $1000, when the dealership that I nearly bought a car from only wanted to give me $200. I sold it a week after I bought the new car for cash, no negotiations. The guy met me, checked out the inside, had me start it, handed me cash, signed my paperwork, and drove off with it. 

I then sold the car that I bought after the Blazer, although that took kind of a while. I actually put it up for sale the same time of year that I sold my truck, but it took a couple of months to actually sell. That only sucked because it was parked at our apartment building, and we’re only allotted two parking spaces, but our building is relatively empty, parking-wise, so we moved it to a spot that no one uses and they never said anything (we’re also good tenants, so I’m sure that played a part). I had a few bites from Craigslist, but they were mostly spam. Eventually I had a kid show serious interest, so Fiance showed him and his brother the car and okayed the final sales price because they had a sad story. I’m super skeptical, but Fiance told them to go to the bank and get cash (they had a personal check), and they came back and bought it. Honestly, I was glad that it was gone. The dealership that I bought my new car from wouldn’t have purchased my old car anyway (or would have done so for verrrrrry little).

Post # 13
721 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

It is possible to get a new car with no extra money out of pocket!


In late 2008 we bought a brand new 2009 fusion. In late 2011 (and 95k miles later) we got one of those “extra $2k for your trade in!” Postcards and decided to check it out. We took it to the dealership at the corner of our street first (not the one with the extra 2k deal)  they offered us $7k even though trade in value on KBB was around 10k this is because they give you what is considered LOAN VALUE, not trade in value.

Loan value is the amount of money a financial institution would give a loan out for your car, it is lower than trade in value. 

We then took the car the 5 miles down the road to the dealership offering the extra $2k and didn’t tell them we had been at another dealership. When the guy came out and told us he could offer us $7k we asked about the extra 2k for the trade in. He said that was factored in we then brought up the other dealership and magically we were able to get $9500 for it.

We walked out of the dealership with a brand new 2012 fusion with no money down and cheaper payments than on our 2009!

 That being said, we’ve always usually sold our cars on our own. The extra money is worth it to us, even if we have to take extra time to clean it before showings, answer questions, etc. We take super great care of our cars (my dad is an engineer for ford) and most people are willing to pay top dollar for one of our cars when the see how clean/all the records for it.  

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