If you want more cash than the trade-in value the dealership offers you, consider one of these other ways to get rid of your car.
If one dealer can’t give you the trade-in value you want, perhaps another can. If your vehicle is in good shape, has a collision-free history, and doesn’t have many miles on its odometer, then selling it to a franchised dealer from its own brand might get you a better estimate.
For example, try to sell your three-year-old Hyundai to a Hyundai dealer, because they can resell it as a certified pre-owned (CPO) car, while a different brand’s dealer cannot. It’s a good idea to look at dealerships where the car you’re buying isn’t as popular as it is in other areas.
Likewise, you should try to sell your used car to a dealer where the model is popular. Instead of trading your pickup to a dealer in the city who will just resell it at the next auction, for example, take it to a rural area where the dealer can get good money for a truck on their lot.
Before you start driving to different dealers, call their used car manager to gauge interest in your vehicle and make an appointment to have your car appraised. Showing up without notice on a busy weekend isn’t a good idea, as the staff will be focused on selling cars.
Another car trade-in option is the used car superstore. They’re relatively new, but they have streamlined processes for buying used cars. Your trade may not get you as much money as selling it yourself, but the upside to superstores is that they’re quick and easy. You can also eliminate the used car trade-in negotiation from the process of bartering the price of your new car. You can keep the dealer focused on the cost of your new vehicle.
Selling a used car yourself will usually get you the highest price. However, because you’re responsible for everything, private sales usually require more time and effort than the other methods. You’ll have to list the car, show it to prospective buyers, and decipher all of the paperwork that a dealer would take care of. If you are underwater on your current car loan, selling your car in a private sale is the best way to go, as you’ll have a much better chance of getting a price that’s closer to positive-equity territory. Talk to your lender before doing this so you know all the steps you’ll need to complete the sale properly and pay your loan off.
A new alternative to trading that's not selling on your own is getting an instant cash offer. These easy-to-use online services let you fill out information about your car, such as make and model along with mileage and accident history. You’ll usually get an offer from an interested dealership in just a few minutes.
If you are just looking to get rid of a clunker that's taking up space in your driveway, and you're not expecting to get much cash out of it when you sell it, you might consider donating it to a charity. You can potentially get a small tax deduction, and you’ll know that the vehicle (or its scrap value) went to helping others.