The most complicated part of car buying isn't always deciding on the car you'd like to buy or how you're going to pay for it. Many times the most difficult part of buying a car is just trying to figure out what to do with the car you have now.
Trade it in.
Trading in your car is probably the easiest and most common way to get rid of a car. Dealers usually make it a pretty quick and painless process. They assess the age and condition of the vehicle, determine its trade-in-value, make you an offer (that can sometimes be negotiated), and then deduct that amount from the amount you would pay for your new vehicle. You drive to the dealership in one vehicle and leave in a new car, often all in that same day.
You can save time and avoid potential headaches by trading in your car at the dealership. It's now up to the dealer to prepare and resell the vehicle, as well as deal with any post-sale issues the next owner might have. If you're looking for a quick and easy way to get out of your current car and into a new one, trading it in is probably the right route for you.
Sell it yourself.
Selling a car on your own is a good way to truly pick the dollar amount that you want for the vehicle. But sellers beware: this can be a very time-consuming and expensive process, and there really is no guarantee that you will get what you want. First, you have to assess your car's condition and decide how much you want to spend on repairs to get it to selling condition. Keep in mind that you will need to fix things sufficiently to avoid legal issues down the road. Once the vehicle in selling condition, you must determine the value of the car, set an asking price, and advertise that your vehicle is for sale.
Beyond all the prep work, you have to set aside time to contact potential buyers and show the vehicle to them. Figure out how low a price you're willing to accept and be prepared to negotiate. Once you've made the sale, you can then transfer the title and registration, and cancel your insurance on the car. The whole process of selling a car yourself, from start to finish, can be quite lengthy. If your car is in good condition and doesn't require a lot of repairs; and if you have the time, money, and energy to do it, selling your car yourself might be a viable option for you.
Donate it to charity.
If you have a low-value, hard-to-sell vehicle on your hands, or if you're just feeling generous, you might want to consider donating your car to charity. By making this tax-deductible donation, you're helping others while helping yourself as well. As good of a deed as it may seem, donating a car to charity can be somewhat complicated, which is why we recommend doing some research before starting the process.
One thing you can do is consult with a source like Charity Navigator, which is a nonprofit organization that helps donors make informed decisions when giving to charity. Before donating your used vehicle, check out their Guide to Donating Your Car for help and advice on the donating process. The Charity Navigator website also has resources for finding a charity in your area that accepts auto donations. If you'd like to get rid of your old car and help people in need, you might want to consider donating your car to charity.
Trading in your used car is the most simple, selling it yourself gives you the most control, and donating it can be the most rewarding. Just do your research and figure out which option is best for you and your situation.