When it comes time to buy a new car most of us default to trading in our old car rather than trying to sell it ourselves. It’s not that we can’t sell it, but just that we get kind of…lazy! Let’s face it, walking into a dealership and turning in the keys to our car in exchange for a trade-in on a new one is just too convenient. Not only that, it does take a certain amount confidence in order to sell your own car. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as salesman, and don’t think we have what it takes even to sell our own vehicle.
But even if you don’t think that you can sell your own car, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. There are real advantages if you can.
Car dealers are in the business of selling cars at a profit. In order to do that, they need to buy them on the cheap. Whatever price a dealership will give you on your car, you can be 100% certain that the car is worth more.
If you sell the car yourself, you’ll get more money and that will mean that you will have a larger down payment on the new car. A larger down payment means a smaller loan, and that means smaller monthly payments.
That’s why you owe it to yourself to try to sell it yourself before going to a dealer.
There’s another aspect of selling your own car that we don’t think too much about. When you bring your car into a dealer to trade it in for a new one, you’re putting the dealer in charge of both sides of the transaction — buying the new car, and the selling of your old one. That’s just too much power to turn over to people who make their living on commission!
When you do this, the dealer holds all the cards in the trade. That will put you on the victim side of the sales table. The way to get around that is to take the trade-in option away from the dealer by selling your car yourself.
If you can sell your car, you’re walking in with a cash down payment that the dealer is not a part of. Not only will that give you a stronger bargaining position, but it will also give you more confidence. You have sold your car yourself, and that is not a small accomplishment. The dealer will be forced to respect you, and that will matter in a negotiation.
It’s not often fully understood that a trade-in is really an allowance more than anything else. It’s not really what your old car is truly worth, but the amount the dealer is willing to give you for it. The allowance may change from the beginning of the negotiations to the end — it’s never a firm number.
As an example, the dealer may “agree” to give you a higher trade-in value on your car, but add the difference to the price of the new one. You may come away thinking that you drove a better bargain because the dealer gave you more money for your old car, when in reality nothing of the sort ever happened. It was only on paper!
Selling your own car is the better course, but how do you do it if you’ve never done it before?
It will of course take you longer to sell your car yourself than if you do a trade-in, but that delay could mean thousands of dollars extra in your pocket. It’s worth the effort.
Have you ever sold your own car rather than trading it in?