How to Get a Better Price When Selling Your Car

You want some extra money, and you are ready to sell your car.  How can you get the maximum return on your car investment?  Is there a way to outsmart a system that seems stacked against the individual seller?

Consider the Condition of Your Car

If your car is in great shape, make sure you can prove it.  Gather all service records.  Get it as clean and shiny as possible. You are poised for the best possible price.

On the other hand, if your car isn’t in great shape, you may want to sell it on the open market directly to another driver. A dealership will vastly undervalue a car based on how it looks.  A driver will look below the surface at a car’s potential for a long roadlife and make a decision based on how you price it. 

Determine a Price

There are many tools online that will tell you what the market says your car is worth.  The best independent services include Kelley Blue Book or NADA. The worst are run by used car dealerships or clearinghouses that are trying to get your car as cheap as they can get.

A proper valuation tool will tell you how much a dealership will pay for your car. You may be able to secure a specific offer using the tool.  However, you should then compare the valuation with the going price of your year, make and model.  You can use the internet to search for deals on your car as if you were in the market to buy it.

Furthermore, you should research your car’s reputation. One place to do this is through your car’s review in U.S. News and World Report. It compiles data from multiple sources and will update reviews to talk about used car values of a specific year, make and model. Maybe your used car is a leader in its category? That could be an advantage when negotiating.

These are facts you can use to push a dealership to increase what they are paying for your car. There are no guarantees that they will negotiate, but this puts you in a much stronger position. Be prepared to walk away when your research shows that they are vastly undervaluing your ride.

Sell to Your Brand Dealership

If you have a car in good condition, it may fetch the best price at your brand dealership. For instance, sell your Honda to a Phoenix Honda dealer.  A new car dealership generally needs good used cars of its brand in the used car inventory.

Finding a Special

In most cases, when there is a special on trade ins, it is really just an advertising gimmick.  Small lots may need cars and may act like they have cash to spare. Dealerships may be trying to get you to buy one of their new cars.  It’s important to be cautious.  Those big used car dealerships, for instance, must meet corporate profit directives. They have no incentive to pay more for your car.

Investing a Little for a Big Return

If there is a light on your dashboard, how much will it take to get that fixed? You won’t make much if a dealership sees that your car needs repair.  If there are ways to improve the look of your car, you should evaluate the costs. It may be worth it.  If there’s a tire with very poor tread, can you find a used tire place where you can get a better-looking replacement? As you weigh investing more money in your car, make sure that what you spend will truly boost the trade-in price. 

The last few years have seen an emphasis on used car sales. This should keep used car valuations higher. Being as proactive and informed as possible is key to a better price.


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