Learn why it’s better to sell your car online than trade it in, and how to do it quick and easy.
For most people the exciting business of buying a car comes with a tiresome chore: selling the old car. Many car buyers choose to trade their old vehicle, but regular readers will know we’re not fans of that approach. Instead we encourage you to sell it yourself. Back in the days before the internet that took time and effort, but today it’s easy to sell your car online.
In this post, AutoCheatSheet.com is going to share some tips for selling your car online. We’ll also introduce you to a web service that makes an already straightforward task even easier. For simplicity we’ve broken things down into four sections:
- Why the old car has to go.
- Why you shouldn’t trade-in your old car.
- How to sell your car online.
- A simplified approach to selling your car online.
1) Why The Old Car Needs To Go
With just a few exceptions, it almost always makes sense to sell your old car when buying something newer. First, you’ve probably got money tied up in it that you need to put towards the new ride. Second, unless you’re blessed with a barn or large garage you probably need the space. And third, if you intend driving it at all your old car needs insuring, licensing and maintaining.
So what are the exceptions? Well some examples are:
- Passing an older car down to teenagers reaching driving age.
- Storing a car in case it becomes collectible
- Donating a car to charity
Having accepted that, no matter how fond of it you are, the old car has to go, how do you sell it? The easiest route is to trade it in. This is where you sell it to the dealer you’re buying your new car from. However, it’s also an expensive route. We’ll explain why in a moment.
The alternative is to sell your car yourself. It’s more profitable than trading-in but timing can be an issue. If you can manage without a car, sell first, then walk, bike, ride the bus or Uber everywhere you need to go until you find that perfect next car. The other approach is to buy first and then sell, which has implications for your personal cash flow.
2) Why You Should Not Trade In Your Car
We explained the trade-in process in earlier posts like, “Car Dealership Trade in Process Tips and Secrets”. The reason we suggest not going this route is that the dealer aims to make a profit on your car. He’ll buy it from you as cheaply as he can, maybe put a little money into it for reconditioning, and sell it for the most he can get. The hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars profit he makes is money you could be keeping in your pocket.
In fairness, when selling your car yourself you probably won’t get quite the price the dealer can. You don’t have his facilities and perhaps not his skilled patter either, but you will still save yourself a significant sum. Some car buyers consider this a price worth paying for a simplified transaction. That’s a choice you have to make, but it is often a steep price.
Another point to note is that if your car is in bad shape, (meaning rusting, damaged or in poor mechanical condition,) the dealer might not want to buy it at any price. With a shake of the head he may suggest you sell or otherwise dispose of it yourself. If that’s the case you’re definitely on your own.
Use this handy Car Payment Estimator to calculate the payment on any vehicle.
3) How To Sell Your Car Online
Back before the internet people sold cars by advertising them in their local newspaper. That presented their car to a fairly small market. Today there are sites like Craigslist and eBay Motors, not to mention sites like Autotrader that give you a national audience. A secondary benefit is that they help you price your car because you see what other people are asking for cars like yours.
Each site works slightly differently, but in general you sell your car online in six steps:
Six Steps To Selling Your Car Online
Follow this simple 6 step process to sell your car online quick.
1. Prepare Your Car For Sale
There’s no need to go crazy with the detailing but always wash a car, empty the interior of trash and vacuum before trying to sell it. If you can clean the windows too, even better. First impressions always matter!
2. Photograph and Describe Your Vehicle
Take pictures that show your car from all angles. Do this on a bright but cloudy day and when the paint is dry. Then write a few sentences that say what it is you’re selling, how many miles it’s done and what condition it’s in.
3. Place Online Ads
Craigslist or any of the other sites we mentioned. (Some will charge a fee and make sure you read any and all of the fine print.)
4. Field Incoming Inquiries
Potential buyers will respond by email or phone if you provided a number. Answer their questions honestly and agree to meet any of them in a public place who seem genuinely interested.
5. Show The Car To Prospective Buyers
If you don’t want people coming to your home arrange to meet in a public place. Show up on time and let them have a good look at your car. Be prepared to let them drive it. Have your test drive route pre-planned ahead of time.
6. Do The Deal
Negotiate, agree to a fair price, then go the DMV to finalize the paperwork.
4) A Simplified Approach To Selling Your Car Online
As said before, selling your car online like this lets you pocket the profit the dealer would make on your trade-in. It does however take time and a little bit of effort. Plus, it means dealing with people that you may not want to.
If you’re not comfortable with this, another option exists.
Peddle is a website where people can sell a car online quickly and easily. You just tell them about your car and they’ll make you an offer immediately. If you accept that offer you can either take the car to a location they suggest or they’ll come and get it. Before actually handing over a check they will look to see that the vehicle is as described, so it’s important to be honest when answering the online questions. These questions address:
The car you’re selling. Either enter the VIN, (the long alphanumeric code displayed at the base of the windshield,) or type in the year, make and model. Then answer the questions about its engine and any special equipment. These are followed by more questions designed to determine the vehicle’s condition.
- Are the wheels mounted and tires inflated?
- Does it drive?
- What’s the mileage shown on the odometer?
- Any removed exterior body panels?
- Does it have body damage?
- Any damaged mirrors, glass or lights?
- Any removed interior parts?
- Any flood or fire damage?
After answering the questions above, Peddle shows you three prices for your car. These are: what they’ll pay if they pick it up, what they’ll pay if you take it to them, and what they could advertise it for if you don’t like their offers.
Companies like Peddle will buy your car online.
The advantages of selling your car through Peddle are that it’s fast, easy and saves you from advertising and showing your car to total strangers. It’s particularly useful for selling older model vehicles and those in poor condition that might be hard to sell otherwise. You can also get some money for that old car that’s been sitting in your yard for 100 years.
5) Be A Smarter Car Buyer and Car Seller
To recap, the fun business of buying a new car usually entails the chore of selling your old car. We advise against trading it in to the dealer because that will cost you a lot of money. You’re always better off selling your car yourself.
Today it’s easy to sell your car online, and there are many websites that will help. However, it does take a little time and effort on your part. If that’s something you’re unable or unwilling to do, take a look at Peddle. This is website makes selling your car even easier than the other online channels.
Use this handy Car Payment Estimator to estimate the payment on any vehicle.
In closing, the most important thing to remember when buying or selling a car is to do your homework and research first.
There are some pitfalls you need to know about, and the best way of finding out what they are is by reading your 100% free online car buying guide – AutoCheatSheet.com.
The number one tip for saving the most money when buying a new or used car is to always take your time and “DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!”
As always, I recommend using an online referral service such as Ryde Shopper, Motor Trend and Cars Direct before physically walking into a car dealership. Their free online price quotes will automatically include any discounts or cash-back incentives currently available in the marketplace. This information will help level the playing field with the dealer and let you know right away which dealer’s are willing to be more flexible on price.