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Consider Selling Your Car Online Instead of to a Dealership


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    Shortly after moving to Portland a number of years ago I realized that I didn't need my car anymore. I quickly found a job that allows me to work from home and just grew tired of the seemingly endless amount of parking tickets I was receiving due to the city's haphazard zoning laws regarding street parking. So, one day I decided I had paid my last parking ticket and decided to sell my car.

    I first figured out the value of my car, which was in really good shape and only five years old. I had never been in an accident and the vast majority of the miles were "highway miles" because I used to have a long commute to work when I lived in Illinois. Armed with the knowledge of what a reasonable offer would be, I set off to the nearby Chevrolet dealership to see what they would offer me for my car. I was shocked at how low of an offer they gave me and even more shocked that it was a "take it or leave it" offer. I chose the latter and decided to throw my hat in the ring of the wild west of selling my car online.

    Once I got home, I took a bunch of pictures of my car, wrote an ad on Craigslist for a price I thought was fair, and submitted it. I had no idea what to expect, but was determined to try this avenue out because the dealership offer was so low.

    Five minutes hadn't passed before I had three inquiries on the car. I responded to the first person who queried, set up a time and neutral place to meet for a test drive, and one hour later I had a cashiers check for $500 less than my asking price yet thousands more than what the dealership was offering.

    Has anyone else sold their automobile or other big ticket item online? I chose Craiglist, but I know there are other places you can use, as well. What I liked about Craiglist was that, at the time, it was free to list the car. (They now charge a nominal fee of $5 to list your automobile.) If you chose another company to list your automobile on, which one did you use and what was your experience? And would you recommend it to others or is it better to sell it to a dealership, even if you wind up getting a little less than you'd like?

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    You can get more selling it yourself than any dealer is willing to give you as a trade-in, simply because they are low balling you so they can easily flip it on their used lot, or sell it at an auction or something. If you are willing to go through the time of posting it and are more patient, it definitely makes sense to try and sell it online first, especially if there is nothing wrong with it.

    The last two times I got a different/newer vehicle, I opted for dealership trade-in. The most recent one made sense as my car needed an expensive repair that would have made it more difficult to sell before fixing and the whole point was to avoid that out of pocket expensive in the first place. So that's a consideration too.

    But for the second, I regret trading it in. Had an 2005 Honda Element. They gave me a reasonable enough trade-in for a vehicle with 235k miles (a real trooper, woulda went 300-500k easily), something like $1200-1500 if memory serves. But coulda got a little more on the open market. Also could have kept it or even given it to someone I knew in need.

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    Yeah, selling your car online can definitely be advantageous, especially if you're good at wheeling and dealing like my brother. He's been haggling online since he was 14, and has bought and sold more vehicles on there than I can count. He's definitely made some good deals, as well as profit from time to time.