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Trade It or Sell It: How to Get Rid of Your Old Car

Trading your car in to the dealer is usually the most convenient way to go.

Trading In Your Car

Trading in your old car is the easiest way to cope. In fact, because even dealers of used cars generally want your trade-in, they make the procedure as easy as possible. Trading in a car is usually a same-day transaction with minimal fuss and bother. The dealer assesses the condition of your car, its age, and other factors and determines its trade-in value. You can bargain over the trade-in value if you like, or simply accept the dealer’s value. In the end, the amount the dealer gives you for your trade-in is deducted from the amount you pay for your new vehicle.

Trade-in value is generally lower than the amount you could sell the car for yourself in a private-party sale, but by trading in you avoid significant pitfalls. You save time, effort and potential post-sale headaches. As Donna Reichle, spokeswoman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, explained, “If you sell your car yourself you are basically making yourself available to the buyer. When you trade in your car to a dealer you absolve yourself of liability.”

Trading in is about convenience—there are no advertisements to place, no test drives to arrange, and no legal battles to fight if your recently-sold car breaks down. For those people without the time or inclination to sell a car on their own, trading in makes sense. Once a car is in the dealer’s hands, it’s the dealer’s responsibility to prepare it and handle the resale. Of course, for those efforts and responsibilities a dealer is justified in setting a suggested retail value on the vehicle that is higher than the trade-in value. The higher price covers refurbishing, marketing costs, “and, frankly, dealer profit,” said Reichle. “The next person buying the car gets the advantages the dealer has put into it,” she added.

Trading-in may also offer a tax advantage if you are buying a vehicle at the same time. In most states, according to dealers and regional authorities contacted by MSN Autos, when your car is taken in trade you only pay sales tax on the difference in cost between its trade-in value and the price of the new car. For example, if a dealer gives you $10,000 on your trade-in and the purchase price of the car you are buying is $25,000, you’ll only be required to pay sales tax on the $15,000 difference between the two amounts. In states with a high sales tax, this benefit can help narrow the difference between trade-in value and private party price.

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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