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How to Sell Your Car in Order to Buy a New One

Posted on August 7, 2019

Buying a car is a major investment; one you’ll likely need to put a down payment on. You can definitely save up for it, but if you already have a car, selling it can help fund your new vehicle.

The trick though, is getting the best deal when selling your old car. Selling it to the wrong person or for the wrong price could lead to losing out on hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Be sure to do the necessary research and extra work to sell your car for what it’s actually worth.

Check Out Your Kelley Blue Book Price

woman looking at a laptop and thinkingA good first step to selling your car is understanding how much it’s worth. Most people use the Kelley Blue Book as a reference point to start pricing a vehicle for sale. Find the make and model of your old car, answer a few questions about the condition and mileage, and you’ll get a general price.

It’s very rare that you’ll sell your car outside of the range Kelley Blue Book gives. When you go to trade-in or sell your car, having the average sale price means you can easily defend how much you are selling for.

Clean and Fix Up Your Car

person washing a car with a spongeIf you are looking to get as much money from your car as possible, you’ll want to make it look nice. Simply throwing out the trash and wiping it down isn’t enough. Take some time and detail clean your car. Try to get rid of that weird stain in the seat cushion, vacuum out every crumb, and pay a little extra at the car wash. For extra points, hang up a “New Car Smell” air freshener. Not only will you car look like it's worth more money, but potential buyers will be more likely to buy a nice clean car than one that looks dirty.

Depending on how much you want to sell your car for, you should consider fixing up your car too. The better quality your car is, the higher you can sell it for. Getting new tires on the car could raise the price enough to cover the new tires and maybe a little extra.

There is a balancing act when it comes to fixing your car. At a certain point, there is diminishing returns on repairs. You wouldn’t want to spend $5,000 on car repairs if your car is only worth $3,000. Weigh the benefits before each repair and make sure it makes sense financially.

Who Do You Want to Sell To?

There are two avenues you can take to sell your car. You can either trade it in to a dealership or sell it privately. These options have specific benefits you should consider and which is best for your life.


The biggest benefit to trading-in your car to a dealership is that it’s relatively easy. You roll up to the dealership, get a price they will buy it at, and you’re done. You can shop around a bit and see which dealership gives you the best trade-in value and maybe haggle a little, but it's a very simple process.

The downside to trading-in your car is that you won’t get the full value of it from the dealer. They have to cut the price for you so they can sell the car for a profit, which could mean you miss out on a few hundred or even a thousand dollars.

Privately Selling

Selling your car on your own allows you to control the price you sell it at. That means getting the most money for your car that you feel it is worth. That is, as long as somebody is willing to buy the car.

The hard part about privately selling a car is all of the extra effort you have to do for it. You need to price it appropriately, list it in different places, meet with potential buyers and go through the process of actually selling the vehicle. If you don’t have the time or desire to do all the work, trading-in might be the better option for you.

Tips for Selling Privately

woman and man in the front seats of a carSelling your car on your own is not easy, so we’ve got some tips to help you make it happen.

Before you start listing your car, take a lot of nice pictures. Take photos of the outside from each angle, then take several more of the interior. Take the pictures after you have the car cleaned. Make sure potential buyers can tell what kind of car it is and the quality of the car before meeting with you.

Be sure to write up a thorough description of the car to accompany your photos. Start with the positives of the car. Did you upgrade the sound system? Was the car always well maintained? Does it have low mileage for how old it is? These are the points you should feature when describing your car.

Once you have good photos and a well written description, then you can start creating listings online. Post on social media (both on your profile and in sale groups,) on Craigslist, and websites that specialize in auto sales.

As you set up test drives and meet with buyers, do your best to be a good salesperson. Talk up the car and how much you’ve enjoyed it, know important information like gas mileage, and make sure they have a pleasant experience.

Buying Your New Car

blonde woman with her arms outstretched in a convertible carWhether you trade-in your car or sell it on your own, now you have the funds needed for at least a decent down payment. Now, you’ll need to do the work of actually buying a car. But before you start visiting dealerships, be sure to come get pre-approved through Pioneer. We can help you know the best rates you can get, which in turn can really help you know how much you can afford.

If it’s your first time getting a car loan, good news! You qualify for our first-time auto buyer loan, which comes with a free Credit Checkup and a $500 VISA card that you can use towards your down payment. Even if this isn’t your first car (like your parents gave you a car that you are now selling), as long as you haven’t had a car loan, you qualify!

Pioneer is ready to help you get into your new car. Check out our rates for new and used cars, and once you are set, you can apply for your auto loan online, at a branch, or through the myPioneer Personal Assistant app. Plus, if you apply for a loan before August 31, 2019, you can go 65 days before you have to make your first payment!

Apply for an Auto Loan Today!

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