Selling your current vehicle on your own will get you a higher price than trading it in. You can always expect to get more than the wholesale price. But selling your car yourself takes a lot more work than just driving to the dealership for a trade-in. You'll have to go through the hassle of advertising, taking phone calls, and showing the car.
Set a competitive price
By following the advice in "What is your car's value?", you should have a good idea of what the retail and local asking prices are for your vehicle.
If you checked to see what a local dealer would offer on a straight-up sale, you should be able to price your car reasonably. Remember, price your vehicle a little bit higher than what you are willing to take for it. That way, the buyer can negotiate for a slightly lower price and feel good about it. Don't be greedy, though. You will scare off some potential buyers if you set an unrealistic price.
There are many ways to advertise your car. Some are more effective than others, and the cost can vary from free to quite expensive. Don't feel limited by the suggestions you see here.
Showing your car
Once you've placed your ads, make sure you keep your car's specifications, mileage, and other particulars at hand and have your schedule ready so you can set a day and time to show the car.
When you do show the car, answer all questions honestly. Be prepared to provide service receipts and to accompany the buyer on a test drive and to an independent mechanic.
Any savvy buyer will want to have your car inspected by a mechanic before the sale. If the buyer is a friend or relative, there should be little risk in allowing him or her to take the car for an inspection. If the potential buyer is a total stranger, however, you'll probably want to drive the car to the shop yourself. The inspection shouldn't take more than an hour.
Know what paperwork you need to have with you
The paperwork requirements vary from state to state. In some, transferring ownership of a vehicle to another person is as simple as entering the odometer reading, sales price, and your signature on the back of the title. In others, you must fill out official title-transfer forms. Contact your state's DMV to see what you should do.
Contact your lender to see what has to be done if you have an outstanding loan. A bill of sale is often required by the buyer for sales-tax purposes.
Wrapping up the details
Buying a new vehicle is an exciting experience, but not getting the full value for your current car can leave a bad taste in your mouth. By knowing its true value, spending a little time making it look its best, and sticking to your price during negotiations, you can get a fair price.
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.