How to Sell Your Car to a Dealership


If you need cash or want to trade up to a new vehicle, you’ve probably seen a ton of We Buy Cars ads online and on TV. Are they a good deal? How do you get the most when selling your car to a dealer?

We’ll talk about why it’s worth checking out which dealerships buy cars in your area and how to get top dollar for your old vehicle.

The Hassle of Selling Your Car Yourself

It probably seems like you’ll get more money for your car if you sell it privately. But there are hidden costs to DIY selling. It’s time-consuming and potentially dangerous. (Please do not invite random people from the internet to your home!)

Your time is valuable! Why go through the hassle (and potential safety concern) of selling your car yourself when your local dealers buy cars?

Should You Fix Your Car Before You Sell It to a Dealership?

Whether you choose to fix any mechanical problems, dings, or dents before you sell your car is up to you. However, if you’re aware of significant issues with your car, you should disclose them because it’s the honest thing to do.

You’ll at least want to spend a day giving the car a thorough cleaning, inside and out. Will it add to its value? Sort of. Your vehicle’s value is determined by factors like age, mileage, location, mechanical condition, etc. But if you present potential buyers with a clean vehicle, they’re less likely to try to haggle you down.

The More You Know

The internet has made the process of valuing your car much more accessible and less mysterious. If you check out the We Buy Cars page on just about any dealership website nowadays, you’ll find a tool that will give you an estimated value on your vehicle with just a few keystrokes. Many of these tools are backed by trusted companies like Kelley Blue Book, Consumer Reports, and the National Automobile Dealers Association.

As long as you’re forthcoming about your vehicle’s condition (more on that below), you should get a reasonably accurate valuation that won’t change once the dealer or buyer sets eyes on your car.

You’ll also want to get your hands on a copy of your automobile’s history report. Dealerships use information from Carfax and AutoCheck to check for anything suspicious about your vehicle’s past. You, too, should be aware of anything that might affect your car’s value.

we buy cars

Assess Your Vehicle Like You’re Buying It

When you’re trying to figure out what your old car might be worth, be realistic about its condition.

If the engine is dirty or the car needs new tires or engine work, don’t try to game the valuation tool by saying it’s in “outstanding” condition. It’s a great way to have your bubble burst when a potential buyer or an appraiser at a dealership finds—and notes—every stain, rip, scratch, rust spot, and yellowed headlamp you’ve forgotten about.

Find Your BEST Deal

Just because a dealer gives you an offer doesn’t mean you’re obligated to accept it. If you’re trading your car in for a new one, handle each negotiation separately, so the amount you get for your old vehicle isn’t lowballed because you’re trading up.

Get multiple offers from dealerships and websites like Carvana, CarMax, and Auto Nation, and choose the deal that puts more money in your pocket.

Be Prepared. Be Realistic. Get Paid

Given the conditions that created the short supply, it’s difficult to call this “good” news; however, with used cars in high demand, dealerships are making much higher offers than they used to.

If you’re realistic about your vehicle’s condition, do your research, and are willing to use a little elbow grease to clean it up, you’ll have a better idea of what it’s worth. Then, when those We Buy Cars ads beckon you, you’ll have all the information you need to get the most from your old vehicle.

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning a commission is given should you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All products shown are researched and tested to give an accurate review for you.

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