Selling vs. trade-in: the pros and cons.

03 January, 2018

Should I trade in my used car at a dealership or sell it myself?

Trying to decide whether you should trade in your used car at a dealership or sell it yourself? There are pros and cons to both options, but it mostly comes down to a choice between the convenience of trading in and the cost effectiveness of selling privately. Ultimately it’s a question of priorities – what’s the best outcome for you in your current circumstances?



Trading in a vehicle you no longer want is all about the convenience factor. If you would like to remove the hassle from a process that can otherwise drag on for weeks or months and take up large chunks of your valuable time, this is your best option. A dealer will take care of virtually everything from repairing any minor defects before selling your car to processing the piles of paperwork involved in a car sale. You could be driving away in your new car in no time. The other major benefit of a trade-in is the ability to use your old car as leverage for a better deal on your next one. Assuming your trade-in vehicle remains in good condition, you’ll be able to use it as a reasonable down payment on the new car.


The downside to securing this quick and easy down payment is the potential price gap. You will be selling the car to a dealer somewhere between its wholesale value and retail value. In other words, you can’t expect the dealer to offer you what you think you could make on the open market.




Selling your car privately means you are more likely to receive a figure close to your preferred asking price. You can negotiate with individual buyers and keep your car on the market until you’re satisfied with a specific offer. Of course you will also have direct access to this cash for a down payment in the near future.


The trouble with selling a car yourself is that you’re always at the mercy of the market. Do you have the time and patience to wait for a fair offer? Are you prepared to take phone calls, meet strangers and give test drives over and over? Can you afford to buy your new car before you’ve sold your current car?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ or ‘not sure’, it might be worth selling and re-purchasing through a dealership.

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