Disposing of an old car for a new one: trade-in or private sale?

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer August 21,2019

With car companies giving huge discounts and incentives to buy a new car and keep the market’s momentum strong, we’re all often faced with the issue of whether to sell our old car to put in at least the deposit for a brand-new unit or do a straight trade-in and use it as the downpayment in part or in full.

The short end of it is, it really depends. A car dealership will typically accept your vehicle as a trade-in for a brand new car so long as the paperwork is in order, there is/are no serious damage to the car and of course your old car is decently operable. Unofficially, many car dealerships will only accept fast-moving, late-model cars as a trade-in. If your car is rare, unique or too old, (10 years or more), chances are the dealership might not accept it for fear that they won’t be able to sell it. For example, an Alfa Romeo or a Renault will be expensive paperweights in the dealership lot because these brands are simply too alien to the general local marketplace and with their former distributors long gone, lack easy technical support and parts availability.

There are some exceptions of course. A high-performance niche model, such as say a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, a Subaru STI or a Toyota Land Cruiser, due to their iconic status and desirability, will more often than not be accepted as a trade-in, so long as they are legitimate left-hand drive models. Their cult-car following means the dealership will be able to dispose of these types of cars quickly enough. I’ve yet to hear of an old Porsche 911 being traded in for a Honda Civic or Toyota Altis though.
Another thing to consider is that a car dealership will usually value your vehicle for trade-in by roughly 15-30% lower than the actual market value. In short, you will typically GET LESS MONEY for your old vehicle if you trade it in, versus selling it privately to another end-user. This is because dealerships need to turn a profit as well on these trade-in vehicles when they are sold, and some dealerships give some form of limited warranty on these second-hand cars after giving them a thorough once-over and possibly even replacing some worn old parts well past their due date, a risk the dealerships take to help move these cars off the lot.

The upside is the time saved, and after assessment of your car is done, less hassle and stressing over when and how your old car will sell. But if you aren’t in a rush, you can get more money if you sell it privately. The downside to selling your car privately is the length of time you will need to sell the vehicle. Nitpickers and tire kickers will undoubtedly waste your time as they haggle for the beat deal possible, and after you sell your car privately, even if buyers should be forewarned, if a problem arises, chances are the buyer will bug you to fix the problem on their car, or at least offer partial assistance. More hassle in short.

Regardless of how you will eventually decide to dispose of your vehicle, just make sure the paperwork is in order, and the car is safe, reliable, decent looking and clean to make it always presentable.

You can also bring your car to a variety of dealerships to see who can give you the best trade-in value for your car.

So in the end, do you want to get every single penny out of your daily driver, and are willing to spend the time and effort to sell it? Or do you value your time and would rather focus that, as well as your energy in other, more important (to you) activities, at the price of taking a financial hit?

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