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GettingAhead Association Home » Consumer Financial Information

So you’ve decided to buy a new car.  Congratulations!  Now comes the decision of what to do with your old car.  These steps can help you make the choice that’s right for you.

 

Research Your Car's True Value

The first bit of research you'll want to do is establish the current value of the vehicle you are going to sell or trade in. Kelly Blue Book is a good place to start.  Many other Internet sites and buying guides are available to assist you in your research.  Make sure the information you are looking at is current, as prices can vary greatly from year to year. Don’t forget that other factors, such as mileage, accident history, maintenance records, and general appearance, will factor into the amount a buyer is willing to pay.  The sentimental value you place on your car may be just that. “Your baby” may not be as charming to others as you think.

 

Decide How Soon You Must Sell

Determining your car’s value will help you decide if it is worth the time and effort to sell it yourself.  Do you need the money as a down payment before you can buy your new car?  Selling on your own may take more time than you think.  Making appointments with prospective buyers as well as keeping your car clean and attractive may not be worth the additional dollars you’ll gain from the sale.  It can be tempting to trade in your old car for an immediate down payment on your new ride. 

 

Determine What is Most Important to You – Cash or Convenience

Dealers use your trade-in to make money.  You’ve already determined the fair market price for your vehicle, but the dealer is going to pay you less.  You must decide what price you are willing to pay for convenience.  For example, if you believe you can get $5,000 selling the car yourself, and a dealer will give you $3,000, is it worth the $2,000 difference for the immediate gratification of having the cash in hand?  For some people, the answer is yes.  The hassle of advertising, taking to strangers (and the potential danger of strangers coming to their house to look at the car), and the days or weeks of waiting for the car to sell is enough to convince most people to let the dealer make the profit.  But for some, the additional moneymaking potential is worth the additional effort. 

 

Preparing Your Car for Sale or Trade-In

Whether you sell or trade your car, there are few things you can do to increase the perceived value.  Make sure the car is very clean and any obvious flaws, such as a cracked windshield, have been repaired.  Provide a list of all maintenance records, such as major repairs or recall work, so the buyer will know the history of the car.  If necessary, deodorize the interior to remove smoke, pet, or food odors.