It’s time to purchase a new car or truck, and you would like to sell your existing vehicle and use that money to fund the down payment on your new vehicle. You’re not sure whether you want to sell your current vehicle yourself, or trade it in to the dealer, putting that money towards the purchase price of a new vehicle. Trading in your used car or truck is definitely the fastest and easiest way to dispose of your vehicle (the trade in transaction could take less than an hour), but it can cost you thousands of dollars compared to how much you could get for the car if you sold it on your own.
There is plenty of evidence available that selling your vehicle privately is a better option than trading it in, but perhaps the best proof is the personal example I can provide. After our happy family of 4 became an even happier family of 5, my wife and I decided it was time to replace our Volkswagen Passat with a minivan. We figured the Passat would be a good bargaining chip when negotiating with dealers as it was driven an average of 10,000 miles a year, had no body damage, and complete service and maintenance records. The first dealer we went to offered $2,500 less than the Edmunds private seller price. The second dealer offered slightly more for the Passat, but was not as willing to bargain on the price of the minivan we were interested in. We walked away from the second dealership committed to selling the vehicle on our own. Three weeks later we sold the Passat on our own for $1,900 more than the highest price we were offered by any dealer.
Our experience is not atypical, and an analysis of Edmunds.com True Market Value data conducted in early 2010 shows that. There’s typically a 10 to 20 percent difference between what a dealer would offer you on a trade in and what you could sell the vehicle for yourself. Here are examples of how much more you can expect to get for a car or truck if you sell it privately, rather than trade it in for some of the more popular used cars and trucks. When comparing the private seller price vs trade in price all vehicle features and characteristics were kept the same.
- 2007 Honda Accord EX Sedan: $1,103
- 2007 Toyota Camry SE: $1,463
- 2007 Ford Mustang GT Premium: $1,632
- 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie 4 Door Quad Cab: $1,932
- 2007 Honda Odyssey LX: $1,423
- 2006 Ford F-150 XLT 4 door SuperCrew: $1,997
- 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited: $1,675
- 2006 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL: $1,752
- 2006 Chevy Tahoe LS: $1,833
- 2006 Toyota Sienna XLE: $1,530
The spread between private seller price and trade in price approaches $2,000 for a couple models, and exceeds $1,000 for every model. Clearly, spending the time to sell your vehicle on your own has its financial benefits. Yes, there will be some added hassles like having to keep the car clean
at all times, having to gather old service and maintenance records
, and being stood up once or twice for appointments to view your car, but the hassle is more than worth it when you consider just how much money is at stake. One final note on trade in values -- if a dealer is willing to accept your trade in for what you could sell your car for on the private market he will try to make that lost profit back in other areas, either on the purchase price of the car you end up buying, or in the financing of the vehicle.
Now that you’ve seen just how much more you can expect to get for your used car or truck if you sell it on your own, read on for a seller roadmap to help you obtain the highest price possible for your vehicle.
Next Step: Enhancing the car appeal