Sell It or Trade It?

You've decided that your old car has to go. So what are you going to do with it? You could donate it to charity, trade it in toward the purchase of a new vehicle or sell it yourself for more money than the dealer will give you.

More on Selling a Used Car


Evaluating your personal circumstances and the kind of person you are is critical as you decide between selling a vehicle yourself or trading it in.

Ask yourself these questions before you decide to sell the car yourself. How quickly do you need to get rid of your old wheels? Do you need the cash from your old vehicle to buy a new one? Are you patient? Do you have the time and inclination to take phone calls from an advertisement, talk to strangers about the car and meet with them to take a look at it? Are you a good negotiator? Do you mind paperwork? Are you handy at doing minor automotive repairs?

If you need cash for the new purchase quickly, your time is far too valuable to deal with phone calls and test drives, or you lack confidence in your ability to negotiate with a buyer, then trading in your vehicle might be the best plan for you.

On the other hand, if you're not in a rush to sell your old car, you have the patience for phone inquiries and test drives, you can do some minor repairs and you think you're a pretty shrewd negotiator, then selling it on your own might be worth the financial gains. If you sell the vehicle yourself, you also could avoid an upside-down buying situation, where you owe more on your car than it's worth as a trade-in.

Posted on 12/20/04