Should I Trade in My Car or Sell it Myself?

Posted Sunday, Oct 10, 2021

When you’re going through the car buying process, you can likely expect your salesman to ask whether or not you have a vehicle that you’d like to trade in. If you’ve been focusing on how much you want a new vehicle, you might not have even thought about what you want to do with your old one. 


If you’re not planning on keeping your old vehicle, you’ll need to decide whether you want to trade it in or sell it to a private party. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The right answer for you depends on a number of different factors. Read on to learn more about when it’s a good idea to trade a vehicle in, or when it may be a better option to sell it yourself.


When to Opt for a Trade-In


The biggest advantage to trading a vehicle in is how easy it is: simply agree on a price with the dealer, sign a few extra pieces of paper, and the money will be applied to the purchase of your new vehicle. In addition, a dealership will almost always be willing to make an offer on your vehicle no matter what condition it is in. Sometimes they will even have special events where they will accept SUVs/Vans/Trucks that aren’t even in running condition. This makes trading in a great option for people whose vehicles have dents, peeling or missing paint, bad upholstery, or mechanical issues. These types of problems will often be a huge turn-off to potential private buyers, making your vehicle difficult and time consuming to sell.


If you still owe money on a loan for your vehicle, trading it in is most likely the best option for you. A dealership will ensure your original loan is paid off, can roll any amount over your trade-in value into your new loan, and is fine with waiting to receive the title for the vehicle. A private buyer, on the other hand, is going to prefer to have the title in hand the day that they purchase it. 


When to Consider Selling Yourself


The biggest potential advantage to selling your vehicle yourself is that you will typically get more money than a dealership is willing to pay you for a trade-in. That doesn’t mean all SUVs/Vans/Trucks will sell for more in a private transaction; the best type of vehicle to sell by yourself is one that is a popular model in good to excellent condition. Vehicles with extra features, such as bluetooth and satellite radio, low mileage, and newer tires will often sell quickly and easily.


On the other hand, a less desirable model, or one with mechanical or cosmetic issues, is going to take longer to sell. Private buyers are going to want to look the vehicle over from top to bottom in order to check for any potential issues, so you may have a lot of people look at the vehicle but not purchase it. In a situation like this, it might take weeks or months to find a buyer, and you may not end up getting much more money than you would have received on it as a trade-in. You’ll also need to be available for people to look at the vehicle and test drive it, and will be having to try to keep it as clean as possible until it is sold. 


Choose What Works for You


At the end of the day, the question of whether to trade a vehicle in or sell it to a private party depends entirely on your individual situation. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of selling to a private party, or if your vehicle isn’t in the best condition, trading it in is likely to be a better option for you. If, however, your vehicle is relatively new, paid off, a popular model, and in great condition, you will likely be able to sell it quickly for more than a dealership would offer you.


At All Star Motors, we make it easy to find out the value of your trade – and you don’t even have to come into the dealership! Simply fill out our Value Your Trade form and we’ll get back to you with a no-obligation offer as soon as we can. While you’re waiting, you can browse all of the 100+ available cars on our website and even apply to be pre-approved for financing, saving time so that we can get you in your new vehicle in an hour or less!