Can you sell a car to a dealership?

Yes, and selling a car to a dealer is a simple way to get rid of a vehicle you no longer want. It can be a good solution if you need quick cash to buy a new vehicle or an easy way to unload a used car without replacing it. When you sell a car to a dealership, the process is simpler than selling to a private party, but you'll likely get less for it than you would from a private party.

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Can you sell a car to a dealer without buying a new one?

You can typically sell your car to a dealer even if you have no intention of buying a vehicle from them. Dealerships acquire used cars from many sources aside from trade-ins, including auctions, car rental agencies, and private parties. Thinking about trading in your car at a dealer? Get tips for trading in your car.

Pro tip:

When you sell your car, don't cancel your insurance until the car title is transferred. You're still legally responsible for the car if it's in your name. Learn more about insurance when selling a car.

How to sell a car to a dealership

Selling your car to a dealer is simple, but you'll need to put in some work to get the best price.

Prepare the car

Before trying to sell your car to a dealer, clean it thoroughly and consider making minor repairs. To get the best offer, make it as easy as possible for the dealer to resell the car.

Determine your timeline

If you're not in a hurry, consider the best times to sell a car. But if you need the cash immediately, plan to get offers from a few dealers so you can get a competitive sale price.

Research your car's value

Use tools like Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of your car's market value. This will help you determine what you're willing to sell your car for, and you can reference your research when negotiating with the dealer. Note that dealers may factor in supply, demand, and their customer base when making their offer, so shopping around can be worthwhile. If you want to avoid negotiations, consider Progressive's car selling service through TrueCar to get guaranteed offers from local certified dealers.

Sign over your car to the dealer

Once you find a dealer willing to buy your car at a price you like, they should handle most of the paperwork for you. If you own the car outright, bring the title with you and be ready to review and sign a bill of sale with the dealer. If you're still paying off a loan on the car, you'll need to bring your loan information with you, inform the lienholder of the upcoming sale, and request a payoff (usually either a 10-day or 20-day payoff). This document informs the dealer of the current loan amount (remaining principal plus accrued interest) and the interest up to the specified payoff date.

Note: If you're selling a car with an active loan, you're still the one responsible for paying it off, so the remaining balance on the loan will likely be subtracted from the price the dealer offers you. So if you owe more than what the dealer offers, you'll need to pay the difference to the lienholder.

Example:If you owe $5,000 on your loan and the dealer offers you $6,000 to buy the car, the dealer will pay $5,000 directly to your lender, and you'll get a check for the remaining $1,000. On the other hand, if you still owe $5,000 and the dealer offers you $4,000, you'll need to pay the remaining $1,000 to the lienholder.

Should you sell a car to a dealer?

Selling a car to a dealer might not get you as high of a price as a private party sale, but it does have a few advantages. For one, selling your car to a dealer can be done in a single afternoon if you're prepared. Selling your car to a private party takes time. At the very least, you'll need find potential buyers, go on a test drive, and finalize the sale.

Selling your car to a dealer also means the dealer will take care of much of the work for you. You won't need to put in the effort of advertising your car, managing potential buyers, and preparing a car sale agreement. Many dealers may even come pick up your car or give you a ride home if you bring it to them.

And while you can take steps to sell your car safely during a private-party sale, you'll still be dealing with individuals rather than certified dealers. If you're not comfortable meeting strangers or managing a sale, selling your car to a dealer can be a safe alternative.

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