The Insider’s Guide To Getting The Most For Your Used Car

Print Post

We’ve put together the best inside information from our professional car buyers to help you maximize your profit when selling your used car.

You have three options: sell privatelysell to a dealership, or trade in your old vehicle at a dealership against the purchase price of your new ride.

You might think selling privately is the best way to get the most money for your old vehicle. But it’s not necessarily the case. Here’s why.

Selling Privately

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? If you sell your car off your driveway, you keep all the cash. There’s no middleman, and no one else who needs a slice of the profit. It can be great! But there are other considerations too.

Selling Time

But the problem is, the average used car takes 60-90 days to sell on kijiji, autotrader or other similar online selling sites. Most people simply aren’t able to wait that long. Do you buy your next vehicle first and float two payments for a while? But then, where does your down payment come from? Do you sell your vehicle first, and hope your new car is still available when you’re ready?

Selling Price

How do you know you’re getting the most for your vehicle? Today’s used car market changes daily. Cars can go up 30% in as little as three months, then head back down again before you can even change your ad. Plus, how does your year, make, model, and trim level stack up against other similar vehicles?

Other Issues

Plus, there’s the worry about a parade of strangers visiting your home and driving your vehicle. Or a whole host of other issues. Will your insurance cover a solo test-drive? Who’s liable when the potential buyer takes your car for an inspection at the shop? What do you do if the buyer asks for an false price on the bill of sale so they can save on taxes? How to you properly transfer ownership? Plus there’s all the potential money problems too.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. If you are set on selling privately here are a few tips:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are so many scams out there these days and they’re sometimes hard to spot. Anyone who wants to reserve the vehicle before they’ve seen it is definitely cooking up a scam.
  2. Screen Callers Thoroughly. Take your time to gauge how serious they are before you agree to meet. Take the time to ask a few extra questions.
  3. Take Precautions with the Test Drive. Meet in a neutral location during the day like a well used parking lot. Bring a friend with you. Make sure you take a picture of their driver’s license, and don’t let them do a solo spin.
  4. Ensure a Safe Transaction. Have the paperwork printed and ready before you meet. Use only well-known payment options like e-transfer.
  5. Maintain a Paper Trail. Follow up your conversations with an email outlining what was decided.
  6. Block Out Your Personal Information. Use the black sharpie with abandon when handing over service records or any other paperwork.
  7. Complete the Title Transfer. Don’t round up/down the odometer. If they get into an accident 2 kms down the road, you could be liable.

Selling to a Dealership

So by now you’ve probably guessed it. Selling your vehicle to a dealership is the least stressful, and hassle-free way of selling your vehicle. It’s much easier than selling privately. But let’s take a closer look.

So How Exactly Can I Maximize My Money?
If you follow these tips, you can probably get as much or more by trading your vehicle, plus you’ll skip the potential pain involved in a private transaction.

This is probably the most compelling reason to trade your vehicle in rather than trying to sell it privately. Did you know, the trade-in tax credit usually offsets all or most of the additional money you may have made by selling privately? Let’s take a closer look.

What is a tax credit? As an example, you have negotiated a price of $15,000 for your trade-in on a $28,000 vehicle you intend to purchase. Instead of paying tax on the full amount of the vehicle, which is $28,000, you’ll only pay the tax for the price difference between your old and new vehicle (in this case $13,000). On more expensive vehicle purchases this can save you thousands of dollars. Here is how the math works:

Price of car that you are buying:     $28,000

Trade-in value:     $15,000

Net Taxable:     $13,000

Tax without trade (based on 12% PST/GST):     $3360

Tax with trade-in credit (12% on Net only):     $1560

So, you are effectively saving an additional $1800 by trading your vehicle in!

Look online at popular vehicle websites to determine what others are asking for vehicles similar to yours.,, and are some of the most popular local sites. But remember that these are asking prices, not necessarily transaction prices. And in the case of dealership pricing, the price reflects an thoroughly inspected and reconditioned vehicle. You can also go online and look at a used vehicle value calculator like Canadian Black Book.

If you are someone who consistently takes good care of your vehicle and performs recommended maintenance on schedule, the easiest way to add value is simply providing full-service records for the vehicle. This includes oil and other fluid changes, tire rotations and alignments, engine repairs, and any cosmetic damage that you have fixed from dents and dings to body repairs. This shows the dealer that your vehicle will have a lower reconditioning cost and can lead to a better trade-in value.

Looking for an honest value for your vehicle? Offer your vehicle as a buy-in rather than a trade-in. A buy-in is the valuation for you selling your vehicle without buying one in return from the dealer. This forces the dealer to give you an honest assessment and offer for your vehicle, without the ability to inflate the trade-in price with money from the car you are purchasing. You still have the ability to tell the dealer you wish to buy a car from them after the terms of the buy-in have been agreed upon. This will give you the best honest valuation for your vehicle.

At Kia Victoria, we are transparent, open, and honest. We provide an itemized written offer of your trade-in value, detailing exactly how we came to that number. The offer for your trade-in will be the same whether you buy a car from us or not: we’ll buy your car, even if you don’t buy ours. The price won’t change. Even if you just need to sell your car, we’re happy to buy it from you. Bring your car to Kia Victoria today to get started.

Shopping an offer you get from a dealership is a great way to validate if you have a good deal or not. Some dealerships will pay much more for a vehicle that is their brand. Similarly, dealers who have successful used car departments are always looking for additional vehicles to quickly sell and will pay aggressively if it’s a popular vehicle. You can also use an offer to try to leverage more money from a different dealership. Make sure to get any offers in writing.

Plan your trade-in for the time of year that maximizes your trade value. The season will impact market conditions and can either positively or negatively affect your value. For example, an all-wheel-drive vehicle is in-demand going into winter, while a convertible is much more appealing in the spring and early summer. In general, there is a spring selling season where dealerships will start to increase their used inventory in anticipation of increased demand. This is also one of the best times to maximize your trade value as dealers are generally paying more for trade-ins. Pay attention to the season and you can increase your trade value.

7. Smart Investments to Increase Trade Value
Look after any minor cosmetic shortcomings. Small scratches, dings, and dents are OK and something that the dealership can repair inexpensively.  However, if your vehicle has accident damage that is covered by an insurance claim, get the vehicle repaired before trading it in or getting it appraised.

Professional car appraisers can see through it all. You might not raise the value of your car in a dealership’s eyes by cleaning the car before you bring it in, but you might buy yourself some good will. So, why not clean the vehicle. A thorough clean and wash will show that you take great care of your car and will positively influence how the dealer views and values your vehicle. Don’t forget to clean the engine area with a cloth and cleaning product to make your vehicle really stand out (as most people overlook this while cleaning).

Take care of small mechanical issues. Having a vehicle with no immediate or obvious problems gives the seller more leverage as the dealer will not be able to negotiate the offer down based on imperfections. With that said, a professional appraiser knows that most vehicles require about $1500-2000 worth of work before it can hit the lot. The standard for a vehicle on a dealership lot vs. a private sale is so much higher since their business must stand behind the product after the sale.

To Sum It Up

And that’s it! Our insider’s guide to maximizing your trade-in value. If you follow our tips above, do your research, and prepare your vehicle in advance, you can ensure that you get the maximum value for your trade-in.

But, hey, we need to brag a bit right now. At Kia Victoria, we just do things differently around here. As one of the only family-owned dealerships left in Victoria, we value trust and honesty above all else. We’re not just business owners – we live here with our families too.

With us, appraising your vehicle as simple as filling out a form. Click here to get started.

Check out our new inventory here. And our used vehicles here.