What is the advantage of trading in my car at a dealership vs selling it privately?

When you decide you want sell a car you currently own, your two main options are trading it in at a dealer or selling it yourself privately. Here are some advantages and disadvantages for each option.

Trading in:

  • Advantage – Time and convenience. If you trade in with a dealer, you don’t have to supply a safety certificate or emissions test or go through all the work of advertising it online and negotiating with potential buyers. All you have to do is get your car appraised. You have the option of repairing and cleaning it beforehand, if you want to maximize its trade in value, but you can also pass that time and cost off to the dealer.
  • Advantage – Taxes. You also only have to pay HST on the net difference of the transaction, so if you bought the car for $20,000 and trade it in for $10,000, you only pay HST on the $10,000 difference.
  • Disadvantage – Money. You won’t get as much in total by trading in the car with a dealer as you will selling it privately.

Selling privately:

  • Advantage – Money. Typically, if you sell it privately you will get more money than if you trade it in with a dealer.
  • Disadvantage – Work. If you want to sell it privately, you are the one who has to do all the work cleaning up and repairing the car so it looks more appealing, creating listings and advertisements so people know about it, and communicating or negotiating with interested buyers. You will have to arrange phone calls and meetings, and take detailed pictures to satisfy the potential buyers.
  • Disadvantage – Responsibility. When selling your car privately, it is your responsibility to provide all of the certificates and tests to buyers who request such information. There is also the potential for you to encounter scammers, who can both waste your time and cost you a lot of money.

In the end, trading in cars at a dealer is for people who don’t mind getting less for the greater convenience of saving themselves the time, risk, and responsibility. If you’re interested in getting your car appraised, you can use our quick and easy Trade In Form.