Selling Your Car Privately vs. Trading It In

December 30th, 2015 by

You’ve had your car for a few years now, and it’s treated you well. It’s been through ups and downs with you, got you reliably back and forth to work, and given you hours of joyful driving time. But, you just got a promotion at your new job, and It’s time for you to get a new car. You are torn between selling your car privately or trading it in. One offers more money, the other provides a sell my car today option, both of which are appealing. In order to find out what’s right for you, read on and consider these key factors.

Type of Car

The type of car plays a huge factor in determining what you should do with it. If it’s a Saturn, chances are it won’t sell very well in a private scenario. Trying to pitch a Saturn Whatcha-ma-call-it is a lot harder than pitching a Honda Accord, simply because of how popular Hondas are. Popularity must mean reliability, right? So, even if your Whatcha-ma-call-it is better than a Honda, chances are it will be sitting in your yard for sometime.

A dealership doesn’t care about that, they don’t care if your baby is a Whatcha-ma-call-it or a Honda. For them, it’s not a popularity contest. They see it as a profitable transaction, especially if the car is still in decent condition. If you have a more obscure brand, then trading it in is the way to go. If you have a more popular brand that people know and love, you could probably make a sale happen.


The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is an applicable way to sum up this factor. You bought that car years ago when no one else would, you know how reliable it is, and how it still has life in it. But, people can’t get past the rust stains and passenger side window that doesn’t go down. For you, appearance doesn’t matter, and that’s okay. Others might not agree with you, and they are likely to critique and scrutinize everything that is wrong with your car. If you are worried about your car’s feelings, go for the trade-in.

The dealership doesn’t care about the condition of your car, they will even have it towed over if it can’t make the drive. If you don’t think your car will sell because of the way it looks or for a mechanical reason, chances are you’re right. 


For you, no price could ever be good enough for your car. For others, 500 bucks could be good enough for your car. This factor depends on what has been discussed previously. If it’s in good condition, and you have a brand people want, then chances are you can get a modest price for it. If it isn’t either of those things, you will have a hard time moving it. While the dealer may give you less than trade in value for your car, it’s still something. If you have the patience to sell your Whatcha-ma-call-it then go for it.  Just understand, it might take some time to sell, or maybe even never sell at all.


The time it takes also needs to be considered. If you need that new car now, trade-in is the way to go. It’s definitely the faster of the two options, regardless of the type of car you have. A trade-in deal can be cut in about five minutes, and it’s instant cash. While it’s not much, it’s still quick money you can put towards your new car.

Selling your car privately vs. trading it in all depends on these four factors. If you have a popular brand car that’s in good condition, sell it and net some dough. If your car has been worn down and you need it gone fast, trade it in. You will still get some cash, and it will be out of your hair a lot faster than waiting for someone to buy it.

Posted in sell my car today