Trade Your Car Or Sell Privately: Pros And Cons: Part VI

August 27, 2010

We’re looking at issues around selling your car privately or trading it in with a car dealer. It’s generally assumed you will get less if you trade. Yesterday we looked at the example of a more expensive SUV: a 2008 GMC Yukon 4-wheel drive with 40,000 miles. According to Kelly Blue Book ( you would probably receive $6,825 more by selling it privately compared to trading it a dealership. However, there is a lot of work involved with selling a vehicle yourself. Is it worth it? Only you can decide. What may help is to get a better picture of everything that's involved.

Selling Privately
Here is a list of things that need to be done if you are going to sell your car privately:

- Preparing your car. This includes deciding what needs to be fixed prior to putting it up for sale.

- Establish a price that isn’t too high, which results in no one calling, leaving it unsold. Or too low and it sells quickly but you don’t get all the money you should for it.

- Where do you post your ad online? Free sites? If so, which ones? Or do you pay for premium websites?

- You need effective pictures.  After all, the Internet is a visual medium. How do you learn what pictures to take and how do you upload them?

- When your phone starts to ring, or your inbox fills with inquiries, you need to know how to field questions, show your car, and test drive safely.

- Most people hate negotiating price. Yet haggling over price is an integral part of selling privately. Head-to-head negotiating is something I learned as Internet Manager for a major car dealer. It’s actually pretty simple when you approach it in the right way.

- They’ve seen your car, been for a test drive, and now they want to buy it. Now what? What paperwork needs to be completed and how do you accept payment so you’re protected from scammers?

- Finally, all is done but the final check list and handing over the keys.

Was It Worth It?
Some people love selling cars. It’s fun, fast paced, and you get to deal with lots of people. However, there is a risk the car won’t sell, or you won’t get all that’s coming to you. On the other hand, if all goes well it’s an opportunity to put more money in your pocket compared to trading it at a dealership.

No one can recommend what’s best for your situation. Each consumer has to balance the added work and risk of selling privately with the potential gain. Tomorrow we look in more detail at what's involved in selling privately.


The author is not only a contributor to this website, but has written the only comprehensive guide to selling your car online: HELP! I Gotta Sell My Car NOW! New Rules for Selling Your Vehicle Online. The book is available on

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