Author Topic: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?  (Read 3987 times)


  • Stubble
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Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« on: March 20, 2016, 04:53:55 PM »
I am mentally getting closer to selling my car. It's not an easy move as I have gotten so used to having one over almost two decades. On a rational level I understand that I will not give up anything but on an emotional level it's still hard to let go.

After doing some research I assume that the value of my car is somewhere in the ballpark of $10.000. I basically have two options to sell it:
- Offer it to the place I bought it from (or any other professional dealer)
- Sell it myself on something like or

Selling to a professional dealer would mean less hassle but they would pay less as they have to turn a profit and provide some basic guarantees when they resell it.
Selling to a private buyer would likely bring more money but would also require more time and effort.

I have to admit that I know very little about cars and have only ever bought one (from a dealer) and never sold one before. I am not sure, this is the right time to try this. Reading through forums there seem to be quite a few fishy buyers out there that try all tricks in the book on an unexperienced seller.

What would you recommend?
What has been your experience in selling cars?

Kind regards,


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2016, 05:28:31 PM »
I'd try CarMax and see what they offer.  Its a really quick process and I know some people who were happy with what they offered.  I agree the private sale would return the most money.  My last private sale was a manual and I had to teach the buyers how to drive a stick during the test drive.  They bought it though.


  • Bristles
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2016, 07:44:57 AM »
I can share my recent experience since I just sold my car and bought a new one last month.
We had a 2013 Mercedes that KBB said was worth around 23K.  We took it to CarMax (thanks to advice from this forum!) and they offered us 19K.  We weren't happy with that price at all since it was 4K less than KBB so we decided to sell it ourselves.
My husband cleaned it up and was about to post it on craigslist when one of my coworkers mentioned he was interested in the car.  Since I worked with the him, we showed him the CarMax offer, were very upfront with how much money we wanted for the car.  He offered us 21K and we agreed with no negotiation.
So we were able to get an extra 2K by selling it ourselves to a private party without that much effort on our part.
We replaced the Mercedes with a 2007 Toyota Highlander Limited we got on craigslist.  Its KBB was around 12K, it was a great condition (except that it was pretty dirty), had a few extra features like runner boards, and it had all the maintenance done at the dealership (~9 years worth of maintenance records on the Carfax).
We offered 10K for it and the lady accepted the offer with no negotiation.
My 2 cents for what they are worth


  • Bristles
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2016, 12:12:48 PM »
This is a way easier decision than buying a car privately or on Craigslist. See what quote you get from the dealer/CarMax, then try to sell if for X% more privately. If you make the sale yourself, rejoice! If you get frustrated and feel like you can't do it, fall back on the dealer's offer.

When BUYING a car privately, it is worth making sure that you have the wherewithal to tell a gently used gem from a lemon and avoiding a potential schemer or fraudster.

But selling something yourself is an easy decision and has very low time cost even if you botch it horribly. Remember, you can't possibly do worse than what the dealer is offering.


  • Stubble
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2016, 08:42:31 AM »
I sold mine two weeks ago back to the dealer that I originally leased it from (after the lease I bought it).  Did some research on bluebook and other sites with regards to the miles, some dings, wear and tear, ect.    So I had a "what I hoped for price, but probably wouldn't happen", a "fair" price, and a "lowest I will go" price.
They gave me the fair price which I was comfortable so it wasn't too much of a hassle and now am busing to/from work.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2016, 09:38:19 AM »
Private, if you can handle waiting a while. I passed up a $10k trade-in offer and stubbornly hung onto my S2000 for a few months to get $12k for it. Or was it $12.5? Anyway, worth the carrying cost and then some. Dealers will all pay at least a couple grand under what the average buyer is willing to pay. They have to.

Conversely, if you're busy as shit and plan to upgrade, trade-ins can reduce sales tax and save you time, maybe enough to offset the lower value.

CarMax? Notorious for lowball offers, and has little flexibility. Their business model requires even more of a discounted trade value than normal dealers. Anecdotal happy trade experiences are more likely to represent flukes or uninformed customers than a policy of generous offers.

Altons Bobs

  • Bristles
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2016, 10:02:41 AM »
You get more if you sell it privately. The last time I sold my car, I asked a friend who owned a used car dealership to sell it for me, he only took a $200 commission, so I thought it was worth it. Previously we had been selling them directly ourselves, but you also don't know who the potential buyer is, if they're a real buyer or a criminal.

neo von retorch

  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2016, 10:44:31 AM »
About the only time I felt trading was a reasonably comparable choice to selling privately is when I looked at all the "cars for sale" and blue book options, and the private party options were roughly $2000 more than the trade values, but, since it was a relatively late model sports luxury sedan... it was still worth $20,000, and in my state, trading in a car at the same place you are buying gives you a tax break (6% sales tax) on the value of the trade, i.e. $1800 in this case. In this case, the $200 difference wasn't worth my trouble. But you probably shouldn't be buying from a dealer anyway, and I'm guessing from the URLs you posted, you are in Germany, so taxes and dealerships may vary from what we experience here.

My suggestion:
* Start by attempting to sell it yourself (on the sites you've listed) without investing too much on fees (but clean it up nicely and take excellent photographs
* If selling it takes too long or it seems the value isn't there, then consider seeing what you can get from dealers


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2016, 02:21:00 PM »
I sold my first car privately; my father helped me out with actually scheduling the test drives, because the car was parked at his house, but I think I only sent a few people his way before I w. I bought my current car from a private seller (who, oddly, was also a dad selling the car for his kid!) and I think I was one of only two or three people he showed it to and I bought it for a few hundred dollars less than his asking price.

Obviously the market will be different depending on where you are and what kind of car you are trying to sell. But I would suggest that you at least try to sell it privately (or get your dad to do it, if possible :P). It might not be that much hassle, and going to a dealership for ANYTHING can be kind of a hassle, as they will try to get you to buy another car no matter what you came there for (at least in the US - not sure if things are different in Germany).


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Selling the car: to dealer or privately?
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2016, 04:02:30 PM »
WE always sell ours privately with one exception. I had a 1999 Volvo that I was told needed 6k worth of work after putting in much $ previously. It was worth 1.5K but I could not in good conscience sell it to someone. So I traded it in to the dealer for 500.   


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