If you want to know some of the best tips for selling your car to a dealer, this comprehensive article is certainly going to help.

It reveals very helpful tips for anyone who wants to successful sell their cars to a dealer.


Why Sell Your Car to a Dealer?

Why not, right?

Especially as it can be easy these days and you can get a really good deal, if done right.

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The time has arrived. That car you are driving is spending more time in the mechanic’s shop than it is on the road.

It’s time for a new or newer vehicle.

In preparation, you have done your research.

You’ve checked out the various makes and models, decided on a new vehicle, and so it is off to the dealership in one last ride with your old vehicle.

Also, as part of the process, what to do with your current vehicle? Your 10 years together deserves some sort of recognition.

The options of severing the relationship include selling to a private individual or the dealership.


Personal Story

My first major purchase was in the amount of $500. The name of this purchase was a 1964 Toyota Corona.

The $500 was a good investment but the harsh winters of Chicago, the leaking oil, overheating engine all necessitated something more reliable.

The following February, I drove into a dealership, and my first car and I parted ways.

I don’t recall the amount that I may have received as a trade-in – perhaps I paid them.


15 Best Tips to Help You Successfully Sell Your Car to a Dealer


1. Know Its Worth 

If in the process of buying a new or newer car and the individual owns a car and wishes to trade it in as part of the new car purchase, it is important to know what the trade-in value of that used car is.

There are a variety of ways that the individual can get a ballpark figure for the value of their current vehicle.

This can be done by researching the car by make, model, manufactured year, and condition of the vehicle.

One of the popular websites that will give a ballpark figure or range of the value of that vehicle is through Kelly Blue Book.


2. Yes or No

The next decision that needs to be made is whether your current vehicle will be part of the package deal in purchasing a new car or whether one will choose to sell their present vehicle to a private individual.

Knowing the value of one’s car the offer presented by the dealership can be accepted or declined.

The decision can be based on the reality that most dealerships will not offer the full value of that used vehicle.

Consequently, if not satisfied with the deal that is offered, then the individual can list their vehicle through a variety of advertisements to let others know of the availability of the car.

It is important to remember that if selling the vehicle to a non-dealership, to ensure that all of the DMV paperwork is completed.

This will ensure that the ownership is reflected by the new owner and will prevent any liability on your part.


3. Clean It 

Before marketing one’s car either to a dealership or a private individual, it is important to clean the vehicle.

This is important to enhance the appearance of the car.

The cleaning should include the inside and out as well as perhaps a steam cleaning of the engine block.


4. Don’t Over Fix 

If the vehicle is not in prime working order, it is important to provide any mechanical repair that is needed to optimize the sale.

On the other hand, balance is the watchword and it is important not to over-fix the car and invest a lot of money for repairs.


5. Shop Around 

If considering the selling of the vehicle to a dealership, a good strategy is to shop at several car dealerships.

If you have a specific make in mind, then you can go to those specific dealerships that offer that particular car that one is looking to purchase.

These dealerships, in larger communities, are abundant, and even in smaller communities, outlying communities offer the same vehicle.

When going into the dealership and starting the negotiating of a deal, if the offer for your current car is not satisfactory, the individual has the option to go to another dealership.

The other possibility is approaching two separate dealerships is that one may offer a better deal on the sale of the car and not give the trade-in value that one was looking for.

Many suggest that if this is the scenario that you opt for the better deal and then sell the used vehicle privately.

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6. Service Documents 

Another positive action that may influence the offer by a dealership for one’s vehicle is to produce service documents.

The service documents reflect repair work, oil changes, etc., and will speak to the care of the vehicle.

This may increase the bid offered by the dealership because the care of the vehicle has been documented and was conducted according to the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations.


7. Learn the Language

To effectively communicate, it is important to know the language. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with trade-ins and purchasing a vehicle.

The specific language utilized by dealerships are:

  • ACV – this stands for the actual value of the car
  • Trade-in value – the estimated value of one’s car that may be received by the dealership
  • Private party value – the estimated value of the car one may receive from a private customer
  • Equity – if a loan remains on the car and the value is greater than the loan will equate to equity
  • Negative equity – if the value of the car is less than the remaining loan this is known as negative equity
  • 10-Day payoff amount -this is the timeframe allowed by a dealership to complete the loan agreement



8. Negotiate Differently 

In reality, the purchasing of a new car and the trading in of one’s current vehicle are technically two different transactions.

That is why some individuals suggest that each of these different deals is negotiated separately.

By dealing with two separate transactions, it keeps everybody honest or specifically the car salesperson will not try to inflate the new-car price by adjusting for any higher trade-in value offered on one’s current vehicle.

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Also, many experts indicate that the combination of the two transactions into one deal may increase the profits of the dealer because there are more opportunities afforded when the two separate transactions are treated as one.


9. What You Need 

Remember, it is important that when trading in the new vehicle that several items are brought to the dealership.

These items would be the owner’s manual, if still in document form, keys, fobs, pink slip it (if one has the title), and car registration.


10. Tax Implications 

Interestingly, there may be associated tax implications when it comes to purchasing a new car and offering a trade-in to reduce the price.

Specifically, in some states, California as an example, will charge tax on the full price of the vehicle.

This is regardless of any trade-in value that is taken off of the sticker price.

Consequently, in such states, the full tax is required to be paid by the customer of the new vehicle.

Additionally, and in some other states, there is no tax at all placed on the purchase of a new vehicle.

Some states allow the trade-in amount to be reduced from the overall taxable amount of the newer or new vehicle.

In those states, for example, if you bought a $30,000 new car and were offered a trade-in value of $5,000, you would owe sales tax on the difference or at $25,000.


11. Timing 

The basis of our economy is supply and demand.

The less the supply of product and the greater the demand can equate to a greater amount of money received for the sale.

Of course, the opposite is true as well.

This same law of economics applies to the individual wishing to trade in their vehicle for a new or newer car.

It is important to do one’s research and find out what the current demand in the automobile market is for their vehicle.

A website that one may be able to check in regards to the demand for their particular make and model of their used car is Cars.com.


12. Being Over or Underwater 

Assuming that the transaction and offer have been agreed upon, the dealer will pay off any liens or loans associated with the vehicle.

The difference will be adjusted accordingly on the purchase of the new vehicle.

If the owner has no loans or liens on their current vehicle then that negotiated price is taken off of the overall cost of the new vehicle.


13. Negotiate 

Remember, as part of the negotiation process for purchasing a new vehicle and utilizing a trade-in, these two negotiations should be separately done.

When the replacement car has been selected and the deal has been offered and accepted by the individual then, one can negotiate the trade-in aspect of the two-part deal.

Typically, the dealer will ask about the car’s history and current condition.

Often, this is the stressful aspect of interacting with a car dealership. That aspect is the negotiating process.

This is where the power of having another offer comes into play because this is a very competitive business.

Therefore, a dealership will at least want to match or offer a better deal to the potential customer for their service.

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14. Finalize 

The trading of a used car to a dealer is finalized when both parties are in agreement as to how much is being offered for the used car and the obtaining of the title free and clear.

If the individual is the owner and has the “pink slip,” then that document is just signed over to the dealership.

If the customer is purchasing an additional car, then the agreed-upon price offered for the used vehicle will be deducted from the overall cost of the new purchase


15. Insurance 

Once everything has been finalized and the car has either been sold to another individual or a dealership, it is important to contact your insurance carrier.

The purpose of that call is to let your insurance company know that that vehicle is no longer owned and operated by you and subsequently, they need to remove that car from the policy.

Generally, when a new car is purchased, the insurance carrier will allow one’s current insurance coverage to carry over on the new vehicle with any subsequent adjustments in premiums accomplished soon after that purchase is made.


Selling Your Car to a Dealer FAQs


Can You Trade in a Leased Car?

It is possible to trade in a leased car. However, it is important to remember that there may be penalties associated with trading in a leased vehicle.

The two options provided to a dealership wishing to take in a leased vehicle are to first clear the leased balance with the company that the car is leased from.

If the dealership goes this route, they will purchase the car from the leasing company.

If the new car buyer has any positive balance on the car this balance is subtracted from the next lease or the purchase.

If the opposite is true, the negative equity will be added to the overall cost of the newer or new vehicle.

The second option for a dealership is to pay the remaining balance and return the vehicle to the leasing company.

Therefore, the customer will not have to worry about the lease but won’t have a trade-in credit to offer for the new purchase.


What Amount Can I Anticipate From a Dealership for My Car?

Typically, when a new customer offers a trade-in for a new or newer car, the dealership will offer a negotiated price for the used vehicle.

The trade-in allowance is usually deducted from the overall cost of the vehicle to be purchased from the dealership.

A customer can anticipate that this trade-in deal will typically be 30% lower than what the owner can obtain by selling the car in other ways.


You Can Do It

Car dealerships and car salesmen are often stereotyped as not being honest or forthright.

Consequently, the process of buying a new car and trading in a used car can be a stressful experience for some.

The bottom line is to do one’s investigation and be aware of the various financial values associated with the process.

Being prepared will certainly go a long way in smoothing out the road of the car trade-in process.



Remember, when trading in your used vehicle, you are in the driver’s seat.

The car dealership wants your business and if the individual has done their due diligence in preparing for the negotiating process, they will be satisfied with everything that occurs

Again, this company has paid $25+ million to members:

SurveyJunkie (only USA, Canada, Australia residents allowed). You can earn money sharing your thoughts. They have already paid $25+ million to their 20+ million members just for sharing their thoughts and opinions. Click here to join SurveyJunkie for FREE

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Apart from being a seasoned Personal Finance expert who has written for top publications around the world, I bring significant personal financial experience. Long story short... through bad financial choices... I found myself $100,000 plus in debt. I was able to dissolve this indebtedness and regain financial solvency. This financial turn around was accomplished through reading, studying and implementing a financial plan. My financial plan included paying down my debt through budgeting, being cognizant of where my financial resources were being spent, changing my attitude about money and understanding the binding chains of the improper use of credit. Today, and for 10 years, I have been debt free and have invested wisely to enjoy my current retirement. This is allowing me to write to help others make, save and grow money wisely!