Sell it or Trade it in?

March 3rd, 2016

Will you get more for your car if you sell it privately or trade it in? The simple answer is: you will definitely get more money for your car if you sell it privately. I could leave this post at that, but if the answer is that simple why do people still trade in their cars? Or for a more complex question should I sell my car privately or trade it in? There that’s a better question.

We have already established that you will get more money for your car if you sell it. That said, how does one go about selling their car privately? There are a number of options these days. In the past, you would post a classified ad in the newspaper. Some people still go this route, however for a quicker and cheaper sale there are a number of online options to choose from. Personally, I would never consider nor have I for that matter, placed a newspaper classified ad, but I am part of generation X.

The most common online option is Cragslist. The pros of Craigslist are that it is free for private sellers, they have made it much easier to create an ad. Drawbacks are that you need to watch out for spammers. Good things to look for in a Scam email or text is bad grammar, people asking for your bottom dollar, etc. If it is a text message, check the area code. Generally, scammers have a crazy different area code. If it is an email, check the address from the sender. Again, if it is a scammer the email address will seem ‘funky’. Just ignore the scammers.

Another newer route is Cargurus. The pros of Cargurus is that it is extremely user friendly, they offer help to figure out a good price and it is free! The main con I would say is that it is a relatively new option. My suggestion would be creating both a Craigslist ad as well as a Cargurus ad. See which one works better for you.

Other tips for selling your car: Take lots of pictures. If you look around on Craigslist, a lot of sellers (including dealers, sadly) include only 2 or 3 pictures. A good online ad has at least 10 pictures. Include a picture of each side of the exterior, a picture of each front seat, the rear seats and the odometer. This creates a good basic ad. Also, include the VIN! Many consumers are willing to look up the Carfax and figure out insurance costs, etc. They need the VIN to do this. Look up the value of your car on

So, this begs the question, why bother with trading in your car? The pros of selling your car are getting more money for your car and you get cash in your hand. The cons are the time consumption and having to deal with a variety of consumers. It can be a headache to deal with selling your own car. Also, if you have a time constraint, then trading in might be the route for you. The other thing to consider is that if you need financing, having a trade-in shows the financer and the dealer that you’re a serious buyer. Having a trade-in gives you more negotiating room when setting a price for your new/used car.

Yes, you will get more money for selling your car yourself, however you need to determine what will work best for your circumstances.


  Posted in: Car Buying/Selling Tips