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Trade Your Car for Cash: How to Get the Most for Your Car 

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The average driver only keeps a car for about six years before selling or trading it in. If you feel like it’s time to trade your car for cash and get behind the wheel of something new, you may not be sure exactly where to begin. Let’s take a look at the options you have available to trade your car for cash and which of them are going to make you the best deal.

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What is My Old Car Worth?


The first thing any driver looking to trade their car for cash wants to know is just how much the car is worth. Answering that question may not be as hard as you think, at least in a ballpark kind of way. Your best bet for getting a good idea of the value of your car is to head to sites like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com.


Both Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book are able to give you an estimate on the value of just about any car that has ever been made. You just need to give them the make, model, and year of your vehicle and you’ll be able to get an idea of the value of your vehicle across the range from poor condition to excellent condition.


 The numbers that you get from both Kelley Blue Book in Edmunds are estimates. They get their data from dealerships and private sales across the country. Those figures are averaged out to give you a rough idea of what your car is worth.


Even though the numbers from Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com aren’t official, many people in the industry will look to these sources as a reliable guess for a car’s value. Many sales are based on the values established by both of them as well, so you can count on them to be pretty accurate.


 When you first look up the value of a vehicle on Edmunds, for instance, the numbers that you’re getting are going to be very basic. That means if you want to know the value of a 2012 Honda Civic and you head to Edmunds, it will definitely tell you what it’s worth in rough condition all the way up to outstanding condition.


One thing you need to keep in mind is that the Honda Civic we’re talking about is the bare-bones model. It’s also accounting for average mileage at about 12,000 miles driven per year.


When you’re trying to calculate the value of your specific car, there are few things you need to keep in mind.


  • Mileage. Like we said, average mileage for a car is about 12,000 miles to 15,000 miles per year. If you’ve been commuting heavily over the last few years in your car, or you take a lot of long road trips then your mileage may have exceeded that. That’s going to affect the value of your car in a negative way.


  • Vehicle History. If we have two identical Honda Civics and one of them gets into an accident that completely crashes the front end, obviously that one’s going to be worth less, right? But what happens if you repair it into like new condition?


Because the car has been in an accident, it will never be worth as much as the exact same car that had never been in an accident. Even if you put thousands of dollars into repairs and buy all new parts to replace what was damaged, the accident itself has reduced the value of the vehicle. It’s possible that the car will be worth several thousand dollars less than the one that was never in an accident, even though they look exactly the same again.


  • Age. As we said, the average turnaround for a car is about 6 years. But if you have a much older car that is going to affect how much cash you can trade it for, even if it’s still in pristine condition and even if you barely drove it, so it has low miles. Most drivers and dealers want newer cars with newer technology, and older cars are simply worth less unless they are vintage or classic automobiles.


  • Extras. This is a sore spot for a lot of drivers when it comes to establishing value for a car. If you went out of your way to buy flashy $2,000 rims for your car because you thought it looked great, the next buyer may not think so. Even though you put $2,000 into the car, it could actually end up making the value less because most drivers don’t want that on their vehicle and they’re going to have to take the time to get rid of them.


The Best Place to Trade Your Car for Cash


These days you have no end of options for getting rid of an old car. Whether it’s in perfect working order or it’s a complete junker that’s going to have to be towed off your property, there are plenty of options for how you could turn it around to make a few dollars.


  • Craigslist. This is one of the most popular options for selling an old car. If you check the Craigslist in your town right now, you’ll probably find dozens to hundreds of ads for cars depending on the size of the city you live in. So, there’s a good chance posting an ad on Craigslist is going to get plenty of eyes on your car and maybe a few offers.


The problem with selling your car on Craigslist is that, with so many options available, it could take a while to get any action on your car. Unless it’s a highly desirable model or you’re selling it super cheap, it could take a while before anyone replies to you.


There’s also the possibility that when you do get replies, they’re either not going to be serious or they’re going to lowball you. There are a lot of dealers who use Craigslist to try to find cars that they can buy cheap to turnaround for profit. They’ll do everything they can to offer you the least amount they can.


One of the most unfortunate parts in dealing with Craigslist is that not all buyers are reliable. You may have experienced trying to sell something before only to have the potential buyers simply not show up at the agreed-upon time and you just never hear from them again.


  • Dealers. You can always take your car to a dealership for a trade in. But you need to remember that the dealer is running a business and they want to make as much money as they can. Not only do they want you to trade your old car in for the highest value car that they can get, but they also want to give you the least amount that they can in exchange for your car.


  • CarMax. Carmax is the nation’s largest buyer of used cars, so it’s certainly something you might want to consider. They will evaluate what they feel your car is worth and give you an offer that has a time limit on it, usually about a week.


You need to have the car title to sell your car to CarMax. An appraiser will come and evaluate your car by giving it a test drive, checking the history and any potential damage, as well as checking the market to compare it to your vehicle. 


If they do make you an offer, they pay you with a bank draft that you can take to your bank and deposit. Your bank may hold it until it clears or not, depending on your financial institution.


  • Scrap Yards. If the reason you’re getting rid of your car is because it’s a junker, then you might consider going to a scrap yard. If you don’t think the car has any hope of being fixed, you may just want to sell it for scrap value. Any scrap yard will happily take your car, but just like a dealer, they're in this business to make money so they’re going to give you the least amount they can get away with.


  • Cash Cars Buyer. If you’re looking to trade your car for cash quickly and without a lot of hassle, then Cash Cars Buyer is going to be the best option you’re going to find. We can give you cash in hand, so you don’t need to worry about payments clearing.


At Cash Cars Buyer we can come to your home and tow away your car free of charge if it doesn’t work. We can also buy a car even if you don’t have the title so long as you have a valid ID In the vehicle’s registration.


Just like the dealership or a scrapyard we’re in business as well, but we also want to be fair with our customers. That’s why we pride ourselves on making fair cash offers for any vehicle, no matter what condition they’re in. Let us know the make, model, and year of your vehicle and what condition it’s in so we can make you an offer and get you cash in hand in as little as 24 hours.

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