I’m in the process of selling one car and buying a new one.
We’ve only had two cars before our current cars. One was declared a total loss after an accident and the other we donated. This time is the first time I’ve had to think about trade-in vs. private sale.
The car we were getting rid of was a 2002 Outback Wagon in very good shape with under 100,000 miles. I checked Edmunds True Market Value and the Kelly Blue Book to get an idea of what our trade-in and private sale expectations should be. I also got quotes from a dealer, Carmax, and Auto Nation Direct. Here’s a handy chart:
|Edmunds True Market Value||$4,817||$5,491|
|Kelly Blue Book||$5,971||$7,306|
|Local Subaru dealer||$2000|
|Auto Nation Direct||$4600|
In summary: Kelly Blue Book gives worthlessly high values. And dealers give you worthlessly low offers.
I decided I didn’t want to go the private sale route because of the hassle (something I don’t need with a new baby in the house). But I was pretty offended by my dealer’s offer (and Carmax a little less so).
In the end I went the Auto Nation Direct route, which works like this:
- Go to their site, click “sell us your car,” and enter your car’s details (VIN, features, condition, etc.)
- In a few minutes you’ll get a “certified offer” from them based on the information you’ve given.
- You’ve got ten days to schedule an appointment with one of their affiliated dealer partners. You take your car there along with the title and registration. The dealer takes 10-15 minutes to look at the car and make sure you weren’t lying about anything.
- Assuming the offer stays the same (mine did), you sign a few papers, get a receipt, and a few days later a check will be FedEx’ed to your house.
It was a surprisingly simple process that was nice for a few reasons. First, it wasn’t tied to the purchase of a car at all, similar to CarMax’s “We’ll buy yours even if you don’t buy one of ours.” Secondly, it was a halfway decent offer. It was a significant amount more than either other offer I’d received. Probably not as much as I could have gotten private sale (if one is to believe the “book” numbers), but so, so much less hassle.
(AutoTrader has a similar program. They offered $4500, so I went with Auto Nation Direct’s offer instead, for that extra hundred bones.)