Private Sales vs Dealer Trade-ins

Is it time to offload your car? Let’s compare the two most common options: (1) sell your car to a private buyer, or (2) trade it in at a dealership.
In general, Option 1 is way better. We’ll explain why—and in which situations Option 2 might be preferable.

Why a Private Sale is Better than a Dealer Trade-in

When you sell your car yourself, you get more money for it. You also have more control over the process. Many car owners report that they love the social element of connecting with their car’s next owner and knowing it’s in good hands.

If you have an unusual car—custom mods, classic, or specialty, for example—an auction allows you to get more value from it.

PrivateAuto makes the private sale safe, fast, and easy. And we allow you to choose from a standard listing or auction format.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Why a Private Sale Gets You More Money

Dealers give you less for your car so they can turn around and sell it at a profit. The spread—the difference between what they pay you and what they sell the car for—is what keeps them in business.

You don’t need to be in the business of keeping a dealership in business. Pocket more money when you skip the middleman (or woman) and sell your car directly to its next end user.

Why a Private Sale Gives You More Flexibility

Dealers call all the shots when you trade in your car. They dictate the price, timeline, and other conditions based on their interests.

You're in the driver's seat when you sell your car to a regular person.

You decide whether to push for a fast sale (ask less for it), or try to get the most for your car.
You choose your preferred meetup location.
You choose your availability and schedule.
With PrivateAuto’s identity verification, you can deal with verified buyers to avoid fraudsters.
With PrivateAuto’s funds verification, you can only deal with buyers who can afford your car, so you don’t waste your time with tire-kickers.

It’s your car, your process, and your flow. We’re just here to help. Create a listing to see how easy it can be to sell your car privately.

More Than Just a Transaction

Peer-to-peer transactions are social events. With a dealer, the process is purely transactional.

A private sale allows you to be selective about your car's next owner. Maybe you want to prioritize a true enthusiast. Or perhaps family considerations are most important. You can screen potential buyers and choose one you feel good about.

In the process, you might just make a friend or a valuable connection.

No Pressure

Dealerships are notorious for turning up the heat and giving you the hard sale. Nobody likes these tactics, yet dealers continue to use them—perhaps because they still work on some percentage of customers.

When you sell your car yourself, you’re in a no-pressure environment. It’s your life, your car, and your process.
Image highlighting Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

How PrivateAuto Makes the Private Sale Easy

PrivateAuto is the best site for selling your car. Our platform makes every stage of the private sale fast, safe, and convenient.

PrivateAuto protects sellers from scammers through identity verification.
Funds verification ensures you don't waste time with unqualified buyers.
We are 100% private-party sales, so your listing won't get lost in a sea of dealer inventory as it would on some of our competitors’ websites.
Choose from a standard listing or an auction.
Our professional photography services will show your vehicle in the best light.
Our scheduler makes it easy to set up the test drive; the buyer can choose from your preset availability.
Electronically sign the bill of sale with the buyer.
Get paid instantly and securely via PrivateAuto Pay. No fees. No limits. No waiting. It works any time of day, every day of the year.
Enjoy escrow-like safeguards without the hassle of a third-party escrow service.
If any questions arise, our dedicated customer support team is just a click away from start to finish.

Car Sales FAQ

Is a car’s trade value higher than selling?

Dealerships will never offer you as much money for your vehicle as you can get by selling it privately. Their trade-in values are always lower than true market value because they need to leave room to make a profit when they resell the car themselves.

By going the private seller route, you can capture your vehicle's maximum value by pricing it competitively and not having to account for any middleman markup or profit margins. Selling privately puts you in control to obtain top dollar that a dealership trade-in can never match.

Are there any tax advantages of selling a car privately?

How do I know if private buyers are legit?

What is the best online platform for private car sales?

What are the processes to sell a car privately in each state?