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Selling your car privately or to a dealer

As with everything, there are upsides and downsides to both selling privately or to a dealer.

So you want to sell your car but have no idea whether to sell it privately or to a dealer.

As with everything, there are upsides and downsides to both options, which means there is no one right answer to give you. What's best will depend on a few things.

Selling privately

With the private sale, you take it upon yourself to see the sale through, and in return you expect more money for your troubles. The process is not difficult, but it does require an investment of your time and energy.

First you have to price the car. Look at the same models listed for sale or use the 'Value Your Car' tool, and decide on your sticker price from there.

You should ensure it is in saleable condition - make sure the car is clean and presentable, and roadworthy. Most people looking to buy a car will want to use it immediately, so mechanically it should be ready to roll.

You'll need to be available for interested buyers to contact you and ask you any questions about the car. Try and respond to all enquiries quickly, and be a little flexible when organising inspections and test drives. You should decide on the lowest price you will take before getting into negotiations with buyers - always keep that figure in mind and don't let a persuasive haggler change your mind.

Most of the time, a private sale will mean more money in your pocket, so it's definitely worth it if you can afford the time (and trouble).

Selling to a dealer

Many people find selling to a dealer the easiest option; however the convenience will cost you. You'll get less money for your car in order to avoid all the hassles involved in actually finding it a new owner.

Beyond the fact that the process asks practically nothing of you, one of the main advantages in offloading on a dealer is selling when you want to (i.e. immediately) rather than having to operate at the mercy of the market.

If you do decide to make the compromise between what's easiest and what's most profitable, follow these two simple rules for maximum satisfaction:

  • Take your car to a dealer who deals in related cars. That can mean selling your Ford to a Ford dealership, or selling your SUV to a dealership that specialises in used SUVs. It can also mean taking your car to a location that makes the most sense for its style. For example, a trendy convertible may be easier to sell at a beach-town dealership than a tradies ute.
     
  • If you can, trade in. This makes a huge difference to the overall value you'll gain from the transaction. The reason dealers still exist in the used car market today is because the trade-in still represents a good deal, especially when you're going to need a bit of finance to tide you over. 

List your car here on Autotrader.com.au.