Getting Rid of Your Car?

At some point you will need a new car, and that means somehow getting rid of your old one. John Nielsen from the American Automobile Association has some tips and warnings about what to do with you “old” car,

Nielsen notes from the beginning that if you want to buy a new car and need to find something to do with the old one, you really have only three options.

Option 1: Trade it in

There are some things that you need to know about when you’re considering trading in your vehicle. The first and difficult lesson is this: the care is probably worth less—sometimes a lot less—than you think it is. The first is that your car is probably worth less than you think it is. Yes, you’ve loved this car. Yes, you paid a lot for it, and have put more money into it over the years. No, that does not mean that you are going to get as much as you put into it. You have to be truly honest with yourself and look at your car through someone else’s eyes. How clean is it, really? Are there dings on the door or places where you hit the garage wall once or twice? Does everything work perfectly? How are the tires? Have you had the brakes inspected lately? What about mileage—average mileage is considered to be about 1,200 miles a year.

There are some sites that can help you figure out what you might get as a trade-in (or even selling it yourself):,, or; the last two will tell you what other people are asking or trying to sell their car for. Remember always that what you’re seeing is an asking price: people can ask for anything. Doesn’t mean they’ll get it. And it doesn’t mean that that’s what your car is worth.

When you trade in your car, the dealer will offer you something that reflects its condition; the dealer has to be able to fix it, remember. They will have to fix it, clean it, and re-sell it, and that takes both time and work, resources that are going to be counted into whatever price you’re offered for the trade-in.

Option #2: Selling it yourself

You can cut out the middleman and sell the car yourself, of course. That can probably save you money, though you’ll still need to put the time into getting it clean and presentable. And you have to keep it clean and presentable! The moment you advertise the car, someone is going to call to see it, and you don’t have the luxury of getting the kids’ McDonald’s fries out of the backseat then! You also will need to either invite people to your house to see the car or find a neutral location to meet them, which might not be terrifically convenient. You’re going to have to be prepared to spend hours on the phone answering questions about the car.  People will come to your house and you’ll need to give them parameters about where they can test-drive the car… and you’re going to have to not be over-worried about that. Some people just can’t let go of concerns, so this probably isn’t a good option for them.

If that doesn’t discourage you, then it’s a good route to go, as it will make you more money than a trade-in would.

Option #3: Give it away

A third option is to not involve a financial transaction at all. If your car’s in decent shape and you have a daughter or son who will be needing one soon, then just give them the car; at least you’ll know what they’re driving! You can also donate it, sometimes for a tax write-off, to a whole plethora of nonprofit agencies: a central office arranges for the car to be picked up, cleaned/repaired, and sold, with the proceeds going to your nonprofit of choice.