How Not to Sell Your Old Car

You want a new car – or just a different car. What’s the best way to get rid of your current car?

For most people, it will be the way that puts the most money in their pocket.

Which isn’t the way many people do it.

Trading it in –

This is probably the number one way to lose money on your old car – because you are usually in a hurry to get rid of your old car. Probably because you need to convert it into cash in order to buy the new car. This puts pressure on you to accept whatever the dealership is offering. Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 08:25 EST - Details)

That offer will almost always be significantly less than whatever the car is really worth.

Which isn’t entirely unreasonable given that the dealer will then have to sell your old car.

This will mean, at the least, doing any repairs necessary to bring the car up to snuff enough to pass emissions and safety tests – which licensed dealers are usually required by law to do before they can re-sell the car. So if you drove it onto the lot with bald tires, the dealer will have to put new tires on it before they can put the car back on the lot.

You, of course, pay for those tires.

And for the cracked windshield that will need to be replaced and the brake job that needs to be done. Plus mark-up.

And you’ll also pay for his time and trouble – which isn’t unreasonable, either.

But you may not notice what you paid – if the dealership folds these fix-it-up costs (plus mark-up) into what you pay for the new car while giving you what you think is a great deal on your trade-in, which you’re glad to be rid of.

Which brings up the main reason to avoid trading in your old car while negotiating the terms for the new one: Too many balls in the air.

It’s enough for most people to avoid being taken for a ride on the purchase of the new car. Add your trade-in to the mix and it’s easy to make a mess of it.

It’s smart to focus on one thing at a time. Talk to the dealer about the new car only. If he wants to talk about your trade, tell him you’ll talk about that after you’ve concluded the deal on the new one.

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