|

Pros & cons of trading vs. selling

Find out which option is best for you

Last updated: May 2014

If you're deciding whether to trade in your current car or sell, it can be a tough choice. Many buyers prefer the simplicity of trading in their current vehicle at the dealership even though they may not get as much money.  Others choose to do the legwork and find an appropriate buyer and get a better price.  Here are some tips to help you make the decision.  

Trading in

It's an easy way to dispose of your current car. Just turn it over to the dealership.

You will get less money than selling it yourself. At best, you should expect to get the vehicle's wholesale value.

You can use the trade-in amount as the down payment on the new car.

To get the best price, you will probably have to haggle with an experienced salesperson over the trade-in value.

There's a tax advantage. Most states charge sales tax only on the difference between the trade-in value and the new-car price.

Selling it yourself

This requires considerable effort, including placing ads, taking phone calls, dealing with strangers, and giving test drives.

You'll usually get the most money for your car, somewhere between the vehicle's retail and wholesale values.

You might not be able to sell your current car until after you buy your new car. So you won't be able to use the money as a down payment. If the old car isn't paid off, you could have an overlap of car payments until you sell it.

You will need to negotiate with a buyer, but most usually aren't as experienced at haggling as a professional car salesperson.

You might have to pay more sales tax on the new car, but if you get more money for the old car by selling it yourself, you could still come out ahead.

Used car buying guide

Learn more about choosing a used car, avoiding a lemon, buying and selling a used car, pricing and financing, and more in our used car buying guide.


   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

TELECOM SERVICES REVIEWS
How does Sling TV compare to cable and satellite? Consumer Reports tries this new over-the-Internet live-TV streaming service.
SNOW BLOWER REVIEWS
5 reasons not to use your lawn tractor to plow snowVideo A beefy snow blower is probably the better bet for a number of reasons.
WINTER SURVIVAL GUIDE
8 ways to keep your cell phone working in a blizzard Learn how to keep your communication lines open during any emergency.
SUV REVIEWS
2015 Lincoln Navigator shows its truck roots Will updated styling and more power be enough to shake the retro feel?
TV REVIEWS
Top 10 TV bargains for Super Bowl XLIXVideo A tighter budget doesn't mean you have to skimp on quality.
CAR REPAIR SHOP REVIEWS
Find the best places to get your car repaired Our survey shows how dealerships and independent shops stack up.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more