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Car Buying

Can You Sell Your Used Car to a Dealership?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro July 2014

We understand if you don't want to deal with the responsibilities of selling a used car. While it's easy to list your car on AutoTrader, not everyone has time to schedule meetings with potential buyers or the desire to negotiate price, verify payment, or work with a buyer who's trying to get financing. Selling your used car yourself will likely get you more money, but it also takes time -- time that some people just aren't willing to invest. As a result, you may want to sell your old car to a dealership. But will they buy it if you aren't trading it in for a newer model? We have the answer.

Will a Dealer Buy Your Car?

Typically, many dealerships will be interested in buying your used car regardless of condition, mileage or other factors. Some large dealership chains, such as CarMax, have a policy to buy any vehicle you're willing to sell, while others work with AutoTrader's Trade-In Marketplace to make an offer on any vehicle, even if you're not buying anything in return. Before you head down to your local dealer to sell your car, we have a few pointers.

What Car Do You Have?

Before you ask a dealership to buy your car, consider what type of car you have. If it's an older model with a lot of imperfections -- issues such as parts that aren't working, bad tires, or a lot of dents and scratches -- you might have trouble getting an offer from many new-car dealerships. We suggest that you avoid taking your old, beat-up car to a Lexus dealership, for example, and asking them to make you an offer.

Instead, look up the trade-in value of your car on Kelley Blue Book. Armed with that figure, visit a dealership that might be interested in selling your particular vehicle. Be realistic about the condition once the dealer looks over the car. Remember, you'll probably have very little negotiating power in this situation because you aren't trading in your car for a new one.

What Dealership Should You Go To?

We strongly suggest that you choose a dealership specifically based on the condition and manufacturer of your car. You'll want to find the dealership that's the most interested in selling it because they're likely to give you the most money for it.

You should first go to a dealership that sells your brand of vehicle. For instance, if you're trying to sell a 2006 BMW, take it to a BMW dealer to see what they offer you. If you don't like the offer, try a different BMW dealer before going to an off-brand dealership.

If your car is a little older, you might want to try to visit a dealer that specializes in used cars. For example, a 1990s Ford is likely of little value to a Ford dealership, which primarily wants to sell new and recent Ford models. It might be desirable to a used-car specialist, which mainly sells inexpensive used vehicles and doesn't focus on one brand.

Our Take

If you don't want to sell your used car privately and you don't plan on trading it in, taking it to a dealership -- or using AutoTrader's Trade-In Marketplace tool -- is likely the easiest solution. Just be prepared to accept a trade-in offer that may be a bit less than the car's retail value.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Can You Sell Your Used Car to a Dealership? - Autotrader