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The main differences between selling your car privately as opposed to trading it in with a dealership have to do with convenience and potential profit. Before you get started, ask yourself how much work you’d like to put into getting rid of your car versus how much you need to make from it.

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Getting an estimate of your car’s market value from our price engine is a good way to get a ballpark ideal value of your vehicle. After doing so, you will have a figure in your mind that will help you in comparing your options.

You can also quickly shop around online to see what cars like yours are selling for in your area, as car values vary regionally. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to look more closely at your choices. CarBrain can make a fair-market offer on your less-than-perfect car in just 90 seconds, making us one of the easiest and most convenient choices for sellers looking to get a fair price for their cars.

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Trading your car in is very convenient, requiring minimal effort from you. A dealership will make you an offer on your vehicle that will go automatically toward the downpayment for your new car. If you’re looking to replace your car quickly, this is a sound option.

Trading in is particularly a good option if the car you’re getting rid of is newer or in like-new condition.

The other primary benefit to trading comes if you’re looking to save on sales tax. Most only charge sales tax on the difference between your trade in value and the price of your new car.

If you decide to go this route, make sure the dealership agrees to handle the title and registration transfer process.


When trading your vehicle in at a dealership, the best case scenario for the amount you’ll receive toward your down payment is the wholesale value of your car. The wholesale value is the price the dealership would pay to receive it from another dealership, meaning it’s lower than your car’s market value and less than you’d most likely make selling it yourself.

An additional factor to consider is that you’ll be negotiating the value of your vehicle with an experienced dealership employee. If you’re not comfortable haggling with professionals, this can be an intimidating experience.

If your car is older or damaged, trading it in may not be your best option. Dealerships are often unequipped to accurately assess the value of a damaged vehicle and will offer less for it than you’d be able to make elsewhere.

While you may not have the direct funds toward a new vehicle, shopping around for better prices will guarantee you more money for your damaged car.

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The Breakdown On Selling Your Vehicle Privately


The biggest upside to selling your car privately is that you’ll make more money for it. Most likely you’ll land on an amount that’s in between the wholesale and market values for your car. If your car is damaged in any way, the difference between trading it in and selling it will be even greater.

Selling privately also reduces some of the pressure associated with the haggling process. In private sales, your potential buyers are just other drivers looking for their next vehicle rather than seasoned professionals hoping to offer you as little as possible.

If your car is damaged and selling your car feels intimidating, you don’t need to worry! Online tools have made it easier than ever to make maximum profits from cars with all sorts of damage.

Rather than dealing with junkyards, you can shop for quotes online with CarBrain. We can find you the best local price for your vehicle in any condition. You can get a guaranteed quote in under 90 seconds from the comfort of your own home — which definitely beats the dealership negotiation process.


The main downside to selling your car privately is that it can be a bit more effort, especially if you choose a private individual to sell your car to. You may have to continue paying for insurance and registration on the vehicle until it’s sold, and you’ll be responsible for sales tax.

To sell your car privately, you’ll often need to clean it, create and place advertisements, talk with potential buyers, and maybe even give test drives. You’ll also need to make sure you have your title and maintenance records, and be prepared for the process of transferring your title and cancelling your registration and insurance once you’ve made your sale.

Luckily, CarBrain can help you skip several of those steps. Rather than advertising online, you can enter your information into our system and get an offer lightning-fast. We’ll handle the process of transferring the title, so you can skip worrying about it. Best of all, we cover the cost of title transfer AND towing for all vehicles, so you’ll never pay a dime to sell your car with us!

Ready to Go? How to Prepare for Selling Your Car

Whether you choose to trade in or sell your car, there’s a few important steps you should take to ensure you make the most money possible. Remove all of your personal belongings and give the car a nice clean to make sure it looks as nice as possible to whoever you’ll be haggling with.

Another good move to make is minor repairs, especially if your car is in pretty good shape. Things like a broken tail light or other minor, affordable cosmetic repairs will cost a little up front but help raise the overall value of your car.

Being able to offer a recent maintenance record and mechanic’s report of the car’s condition will also improve your credibility as a seller. If you’re selling privately, buyers will feel reassured knowing their car has new oil and a battery that’s been recently tested. Knowing as much as you can about your car provides the upper hand when negotiating as well.

When it comes to selling your car, you have a few options. But the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to get a fair-market offer for your car and sell it fast is to choose CarBrain. We can pick up your car and provide you with on-the-spot payment within 48 hours of accepting your offer. With a stellar reputation and years of experience in the industry, we know how to make the process easy for you.


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