Trade in or private sale. What’s the best for me?

24 November 2017

Trade in or private sale. What’s the best for me?

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Many years, many memories (some good and some bad), but you’ve finally decided it’s time to say goodbye to your pride and joy and move onwards and upwards. Do you decide to make life easy and trade in the vehicle, or perhaps you want the best bang for buck, and therefore decide to sell your car privately? Everyone’s different, whether it be your lifestyle requirements or financial obligations, but let’s explore both options and see what the best is for you.

Trade in

Have you been left traumatised in the past by tyre kickers? How about groups of people calling you up at all hours of the day offering you ridiculous prices without having even seen the car? If you’ve answered yes to the above, the benefits of a trade in offer - regardless of how low it is -may outweigh the extra profit you’ll receive from a private sale.

If you’re replacing your vehicle, because it’s nearing the end of its life, a trade in will be the easiest way to dispose of the vehicle without having to worry about something going wrong in the near future. The dealer can assess the car professionally, and usually they will take it on despite the fact it might need some repairs, some panel work and a decent valet.

Trade in values can differ between dealerships too. A trade in value will be lower than the true market value of the car, and if you’re trading in a vehicle that the dealership might have a hard time selling, it can reduce the price even further. For example, if you’re trying to trade in an ex-work van to a dealer who specialises in sports cars, don’t expect a particularly favourable trade in price.

Private Sale

Selling a car these days isn’t all that bad, when it’s done correctly. Sure, you will need to invest more time and effort, but ultimately this will lead to a better return.

All vehicles are different and some are easier to sell than others depending on what they are. If you’re selling a highly sought-after vehicle like a Ford Ranger, you shouldn’t have too much problem getting a fair price compared to a rare European model, which may be difficult to source parts for and have high repair bills.

Some sellers invest in a pre purchase inspection before listing their vehicle on the market. This will erase any concerns about issues with the car and, in turn, make the vehicle a lot easier to sell. Any questions and you simply refer them to the inspection sheet. Occasionally you might come across a buyer who is dishonest, and will try to use their mechanical knowledge to reduce the price on problems that aren’t there. An inspection provides peace of mind for both parties.

But selling a car on your own isn't always easy. While creating a listing online is a breeze, selling your own car means meeting with potential buyers, taking time out of your schedule to give test drives and maybe even dealing with banks and finance companies on your own. In other words, selling your own car means there will be extra legwork involved and sometimes, it's a lot of extra legwork.

In nearly every case, the amount of money you would receive when trading a car in will be significantly less than what you would receive from a private sale. If your car is only a few years old, this could end up leaving a large hole in your pocket. On the other hand, if your car is in poor condition, in low demand, or if it’s a car with high mileage, it might be best to trade it in to avoid a major investment of your time and money.


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