The Selling vs. Trading Cars Guide

Is it time for a new vehicle? In an economy full of high gas prices, yet low housing prices, it’s hard to know where your car fits into the picture. If you’re looking to switch vehicles this spring, here’s our guide to trading vs. selling your vehicles.

In almost all cases, you will get more money for your used vehicle if you sell it yourself. However, it can be easier and even smarter to go ahead and trade it in. Below are the recommendations from Sallas Auto Repair owner, Nick Sallas, on how to determine what to do with your used vehicle.

The Selling Your Car Guide

Selling your car yourself will probably make you the most money off of your used car. Before you advertise your vehicle for sale, you’ll need to “stage” your car, just like you would “stage” a house before putting it on the marketing. Take it to get professionally detailed, waxed, and cleaned. Just like a house, don’t try to sell a personal car with personal items. Remove all papers, pens, loose change, car seats, bags and any other personal item you keep in your car. The test drivers need to imagine their stuff in the car – not yours.

Keep your Maintenance Receipts

As you collect the paperwork needed to sell your car, make sure to collect all of your maintenance receipts. Consider even making a log of all of the maintenance your car has received – both regular maintenance and preventative maintenance.

When interested buyers consider buying your car, having a folder of maintenance receipts will add value. The log will help make the maintenance work easier to review. If you can’t find a receipt or need a reminder on the maintenance performed by Sallas Auto, give us a call and we’ll look up your service record.

Price it Right

Make sure you do your research when selling your car. Your car value will vary depending on the special features and condition of your car. Look up what your vehicle is worth so that you price it fairly. Two great resources are NADA or Kelley Blue Book. These two sites will give you a fair resale value. Make sure to print out the value and put it with your maintenance receipts so potential buyers can see that your price is fair and in line.

Listing your Used Car Online

There are several great websites that can help you sell your car. Two great websites to consider placing a listing are and Craigs List. Make sure you take several good photos, and include as much information about your car on your listing. Be ready to answer questions by email from potential buyers. If you do not have much action ~ evaluate your pictures and price to see if either need to be changed!

Meeting Prospective Buyers

As prospective buyers begin calling about your car, make sure to use good judgment and play it safe. When meeting someone who’s interested in test driving the car, we encourage you to NOT let them take your car out for a test drive alone. If they ask to test drive your car, Nick recommends you hold their driver’s license. At the very least, make a copy of their driver’s license. Make sure the car your prospective buyer arrives in has license plates, and write them down. Also, make sure that your prospective buyer isn’t dropped off with their friend staying in the car they came in. This is an easy way to have your car stolen or carjacked. Make sure that your prospective buyer came alone, or that their entire party test drives your car.

If you’re looking for a safe zone to meet, you can always meet at a Sallas Auto shop; we’re also available to answer any questions.

The Trading Your Car Guide

Before you SELL or TRADE your car, do your homework on what your car is worth. After you’ve looked up the resale value of your used car (through NADA or Kelley Blue Book), take your car to a dealership to see if they will offer you within $500 of the resale value. If they offer a fair price within reasonable value, it might be worth considering trading in your car. It could be worth skipping the hassle of selling your used car.

Taking a Loss

As you decide to trade-in your vehicle, you have to remember that you will most likely not receive the same value that it’s worth. Because the dealership needs to make money on your vehicle through the resale, they will offer you less money. Sometimes they’ll offer you only $500-$1000 less than its value; other times it can be as much as $3,000. Also realize that if you bought your vehicle new, a car loses most of its resale value in its first three years.

Tips on Taking your Car in to Trade

To get the best trade value for your vehicle, Nick Sallas recommends saying NO to a trade-in initially. As you shop the dealership, you will be asked if you have a trade-in. Tell the dealership that you are considering selling your own car first, that way you can haggle them down and negotiate the price fairly. If you tell the dealership you have a trade-in, they will factor that into the car value and you won’t get the lowest price.

In addition, make sure you have service records for your trade-in vehicle. This will help show the car has been maintained and is excellent condition. Similar to as if you were selling your car, wash you car so that it looks like it’s in excellent condition. That way the dealership won’t have to worry about detailing the car.

Trading Out Vehicles

If you are trading in your vehicle for another vehicle, consider buying a car that’s at least one-three years old. As you choose a new vehicle, it’s still important to have an independent repair shop (apart from the dealer) inspect the vehicle. By using a 3rd party inspector, you’ll make sure to get a non-biased opinion on the status of the used car.

As always ~ Nick is available to help you with any questions. You may call him at 816-765-6060.

Thanks so much and have a GREAT weekend!


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