Trading in Your Vehicle vs. Selling Privately

The decision between selling your vehicle privately or trading it in can be a tricky one. This is because it is believed that you will get more money for your car when you sell it yourself. In many cases this is true, depending on who the buyer is. Hopefully we can help you out with this decision with some advice.

There are three types of buyers for your vehicle:

  • a friend or a friend of a friend
  • strangers
  • car dealers
  • A Friend or a Friend of a Friend

When you are selling to someone you know it makes things a little easier. You do your homework like check Canadian Black Book and see what the average asking price is of your car. You take into consideration the kms and condition of your vehicle and come up with a price. Once this fair price has been determined and your friend also thinks it is fair, your vehicle is sold!

However, many people don't like selling to friends because, "what if something goes wrong with the vehicle?" There is a certain level of trust when you sell to a friend. Make sure you are clear about the issue that could arise. Honesty is the best policy. Also if you take care of your car and your friend knows this, that peace of mind is worth the money.


If you have decided to sell your vehicle to anyone, you will need to base starting price. Again, Canadian Black Book is a great place to start. You also need to decide on how to advertise you are selling your car. You can do this via your local newspaper's classifieds or online through Kijiji or Craigslist for example.

This method can be a delicate tango between having the lowest price (because you are competing with more people) and the best value (or condition/low mileage). Have patience and be willing to show your vehicle to any interested buyers.

Car Dealers

When you do a trade-in you are selling your vehicle to the dealer at wholesale price. This means the dealership is offering what they would have to pay for a car like yours at a dealer auction. Dealers never pay retail for a vehicle, but the bill of sale may look like you are getting retail, depending on how your discount (if any) was applied to the offer of purchase. Here is an example of what it may look like:

Example A Example B
new retail car price 43,000 43,000
discount 0 2,000
sale price 43,000 41,000
minus trade-in 13,000 11,000
total paid 30,000 30,000

* In example A the buyer is getting "retail" for their trade-in.

* In example B the buyer is getting "wholesale."

* In example A the amount shown for the trade is inflated by $2,000. This is what's called "over allowance."

* In example B you can see the discount is shown as such, rather than just being added to the amount given for the trade-in. (As is the case in example A.)

The fact is that a dealer will make money from your trade in after it has been reconditioned and sold. You just have to decide if you want to take the time to sell your vehicle privately or use it towards your newer vehicle.

Don't be afraid to call us and ask any questions you like. We are in the business to help you buy and sell. Our team is friendly and knowledgeable of how the automotive industry works. You will be treated like family at Legacy Ford Ponoka.



Disclaimer: Pricing is subject to change without notice, actual price may vary; installed options may also vary by dealer. Price does not include applicable license fees, insurance, registration, tax, freight / delivery, PDI or administration fees. Warranty may subject to change without notice, actual warranty may vary. Specification may change without notice. See dealership for final pricing, warranty, and availability.