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Car Buying

Selling Your Car: How Do You Decide on a Price?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2013

If you're selling your car, one of the most important parts of completing your online ad is choosing the right price. If you price your car too high, you'll turn off potential buyers. If you price it too low, shoppers may think there's something wrong -- or you'll lose out on some extra cash. We've listed a few tips on how to select the right price when it's time to sell your car.

What Else Is Out There?

One key aspect of pricing a used car is taking a look at other, similar cars in your area. For example, if you're selling a 2008 Honda Civic with 50,000 miles, it might be wise to see what other sellers are asking for 2007-2009 Honda Civics with 30,000 to 70,000 miles. That should give you a good starting point to determine pricing.

Checking out other vehicles also gives you a leg up when an interested shopper inquires about your car. You'll know what other vehicles that shopper also may be considering, and you'll know what benefits your car has that other nearby vehicles don't.

Kelley Blue Book Helps a Lot

It's easy to check local listings to see what nearby cars are going for. But what if your car is an unusual model without many local listings? Or what if you have abnormally high or low mileage? For all the what-ifs of the selling process, there's Kelley Blue Book (KBB).

Kelley Blue Book is still one of the most accurate tools for car value assessment. Simply visit KBB's website, enter your car's particulars and you'll receive a value estimate. One warning, however: You must be very accurate about your car's limitations. Remember, even if you think your car is perfect, a discerning shopper might notice more dings and scratches than you do.

Visit a Dealer

You also can use a dealer's offer as a price estimate when selling your car. While some dealers won't make an offer on your car unless you buy one of theirs, many will provide a cash offer on the spot -- even if you're not buying a new car from that dealer. In fact, AutoTrader's own Trade-In Marketplace tool can provide you with a free, instant cash offer on your car.

Our only suggestion: Most dealers will offer a wholesale price rather than a retail price. While selling a car to a dealer can be a quick, easy process, you may not get top dollar for your car. So you might take the dealer's price as a starting point and try to sell your car online for a little more.

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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Selling Your Car: How Do You Decide on a Price? - Autotrader