How to Sell a Car

Introduction: How to Sell a Car

When you buy a car, you probably give a lot of consideration to the particulars of the purchase. While selling a used car is usually more straightforward, it deserves an equal amount of thought. There are many ways to get rid of your old vehicle, and your ability to pick the best one will impact how much money you can put towards an upgrade. Here are some common options and important factors you should consider with each.

Step 1: See If You Can Sell Your Directly to Buyers

Some people take this route because it seems fairly uncomplicated. In theory, all you have to do is find someone who wants the vehicle you have and negotiate a price they're willing to pay. In practice, however, things get far more complex.

Before you can begin discussing asking prices, you have to find buyers. This usually involves cleaning your car up, taking pictures, writing a listing and posting your sale online. While there are many venues that facilitate sales, you have to do a lot of work to stand out and attract more attention than the thousands of other similar listings. This method of selling also lacks some protection. For instance, you should probably be wary of who you invite to your house to see your car, and it's definitely wise not to let anyone take a test drive without you and maybe a friend riding along. Also, if your customer is later dissatisfied over the deal you gave them, you might be deemed legally liable.

Step 2: See If You Can Trade in Your Car

Trading in vehicles also seems pretty basic to most people. You simply bring your old car to the dealer who's going to sell you the new ride you've been eyeing and see what they'll knock off the price in exchange.

The big disadvantage here is that it puts a lot of power in the dealer's hands. Your car salesperson knows you need some way to get around, so they've got negotiating leverage. With many vehicles, dealers are also more likely to resell the car to another dealer or a junkyard than to sell it to a new driver, so it's in their best interest to get it from you for as little as possible.

Step 3: Find a Car Buying Service

In most cases, your best option is to work with a service that specializes in buying cars. These businesses purchase cars for more diverse reasons than most private buyers and dealerships do, so they're flexible about negotiating.

Most car buyers are also willing to purchase vehicles in a wider range of conditions. For instance, a small dealer may outright refuse to accept an older car or SUV as a trade-in vehicle because they don't think they'll be able to sell it for as much money. A car-buying service will at least give you money for the parts or salvage value. Are you getting ready to upgrade from your old ride or know someone who is? You can even sell crashed cars at

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