How Selling a Car Works

Pricing Your Car

Online ads make it easy to see what other people are asking for the same type of car.

­T­he most important thing you must remember before you decide to sell your car is that you generally can get a lot more money by selling the car yourself than by trading the car in at the dealership. If you do decide you want to trade in your car at a dealership, beware of two things: a very high trade-in value and a very low one.

According to, when a dealership offers you a high trade-in value for your vehicle, it will most likely use the price against the purchase of your new car. The dealer will cover the loss on the used car by making you pay a higher price for the new car. Thus, you won't be saving any money. If the dealer offers you too little for your trade-in, it may suggest that you're getting a low price for the new car. Remember that you can negotiate a fair trade-in price at a dealership, but know that you will probably get a higher price selling the car on your own.


The best way to price your car is to know what other sellers are asking by looking at online ads as well as print ads.

You can also find the suggested retail value for your car. The best way to find out this information is by using a common reference guide such as the Kelley Blue Book or the NADA Gold Book, which are available in the reference section of most libraries as well as online (including at These books include domestic and foreign cars that are 21 years old or newer.

Another good way to determine a car's price is to find out what wholesale price dealers are paying for your car at auction. The Black Book is one of several guides that provide this information. Black Book features wholesale prices on used cars and motorcycles from as early as 1946 to the present. With all this information in hand, you will be able to determine a fair and reasonable asking price for your car.

Finally, be sure to leave a little room in your asking price. In other words, ask for slightly more money than you are actually willing to accept. For example, if you want to get $15,000 for your car, you can list the car at $15,500. Then, if you have to go lower in price, it won't be a big loss. After you've decided on your asking price, it is time to make your car attractive to buyers.