Can You Sell Your Car to a Dealership?

Selling your car can be tough, especially if you’re planning to sell it privately. Having to deal with Craigslist flakes and Facebook Marketplace scammers is a pain and by going that route, you run the risk of lowballs offers and inviting unsavory people to your house. However, selling your car to a dealership can take away some of your stress, although, it comes at a price.

Is it worth it to sell my car to a dealership?

A customer gets her car appraised by a Ford dealer
A customer gets her car appraised by a Ford dealer. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Yes, because it’s convenient and takes the hassle out of selling your car in general. Most consumers think that they can only trade their old car in when buying a new one at a dealership, but that’s false. Any dealership will happily take your car to add it to their inventory – provided that it’s in good condition. If it’s not, most dealers will still take it and send it off to the auction.

Either way, you’ll be able to offload your old car fairly quickly and easily when selling to a dealership, as long as you’re not looking for the top dollar. The used car market is pretty hot right now if you’re selling a car, so now is a great time to sell. However, don’t expect to get the most money out of your car when selling to a dealer in general as they will factor in any reconditioning costs in order to resell it for a profit later on. The extra costs on their end mean less money for you.

Before selling your car to a dealership, figure out how much it’s worth

car salesman
Pete Argumaniz, a pre-owned car salesman | Getty

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If you decide to sell your car to a dealership, then you should first figure out how much it’s worth. Just like doing your research when buying a car, you should do your research when selling one to ensure that you’re getting the best price possible. There are plenty of sites like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and NADA that will calculate your car’s value, but remember to use them as guidelines.

U.S. News points out that the sites compare your car’s information and compare it with their own data to estimate its value. But the number that they give you isn’t an actual offer as it doesn’t account for your car’s condition, so showing it to a dealer doesn’t mean that you’ll get that amount. That being said, it’s important to evaluate your car fairly using these calculators.

For example, did you mark your car as “good” when it’s actually in “fair” condition? Did you account for all of the door dings, squeaks, and other needed repairs? Those broken dashboard buttons may not bother you on a daily basis, but they will decrease the value of your car when you get it appraised by a dealership.

Remember to get multiple offers

  A price tag hangs from the rearview mirror of a car for sale at a Chrysler dealership in Colma, California
A price tag hangs from the rearview mirror of a car for sale at a Chrysler dealership in Colma, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When selling your car to a dealership, don’t just stick with one offer. Instead, shop your car around to multiple dealers and get at least two to three offers and go with the highest one. The reason being is that not every dealer will have the same interest in your car. For example, if you drive a Honda Civic, you may get a better offer at a Honda dealer than you would at a Toyota dealer as the Honda one will have an easier time selling it.

Get your sales documents in order

When selling your car to a dealership, you’ll need to have the necessary documents in order to sign it over. If you’re still making payments on the car, then you should have your bank loan information with you so that the dealer can get the title from them. However, if you own the car outright, then you’ll need the car’s title – also known as the “pink slip” – and the registration.

Lastly, try not to take too long when selling your car to a dealership. Most dealership appraisals and offers are only good for a week since the market changes quite often. Also, if you drive the car daily, then its mileage will increase while you decide on which offer to take. If anything, go for the highest one and get the most for your car while you can.

Otherwise, selling your car to a dealership can take a lot of the pain and stress away from the process. Just remember to do your research beforehand and get the best deal possible.  

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