Can I Sell My Car to a Dealership? Sure, But Should You?

You can almost always sell your car to a dealership. It’s one of the easiest ways to sell your car. But dealership trades often fetch a lower price.

Dealership trade-ins and cash offers are convenient, but they leave money on the table.

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Can I Sell My Car to a Dealership?

Yes. You can absolutely sell your car to a dealership. In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to sell your car. But (and this is a big but), dealership trade-ins often fetch the lowest price. 

Car dealerships: Suzuki, Volkswagen, Hol by Matthew Paul Argall, on Flickr
Car dealerships: Suzuki, Volkswagen, Hol” (CC BY 2.0) by Matthew Paul Argall

Should I Sell My Car to a Dealer?

On average, private sales and auctions bring in more money for sellers when compared with dealership trade-ins. But each has it’s own set of pros and cons. We’ll get into that below. But first, let’s cover trade-ins.

If you plan on buying a new car from a dealership, the dealer may be willing to give you additional trade-in credit. But if you are selling it outright the trade-in offer will likely be lower than the amount you could make in an auction or private sale.

Can I sell my financed car to a dealership?

Illustration of one of the documents you need to sell your car.What if the bank still holds your title? You can absolutely sell your car, just know the bank will likely expect you to pay the loan off immediately.

Considering that, you want to be sure you’ve paid some of your loan off before selling your car back to a dealership. The value of a car typically drops about 15% in value the second you drive it off the lot, but you (and your bank) paid closer to 100% of the value.

Since new cars are in such high demand now, private sellers are more likely to pay above list price for a used car, but dealerships are much less likely to.

If you buy a car, and then immediately sell it, you’ll likely lose money without getting any use out of the car.

So don’t sell it back to the dealership unless you really want to or really have to.

Auction, sell, or trade, what works best for you?

Auction, Private Sale, or Trade? 

We’ve mentioned auctions and private sales a lot, so let’s talk about those for a second.

A private sale is when you list your car (on the internet or in the newspaper) and then wait for potential buyers to contact you personally. You handle the paperwork and deal with potential buyers.

There are a number of ways to auction your car. You can do a public auction (like ebay) or a private auction. Private auctions are typically where used car dealers shop, but are closed to the public (until now).

Shameless Plug: Carmigo is an auction platform that lists privately owned cars (like yours) in an auction where our network of dealerships bid. It’s the first of its kind in that it lets private sellers list their cars in wholesale auctions. This gives dealerships more control over their inventory, and you more options when you sell. More on that later.

Every seller is different, and every seller has different needs, so let us help you decide if you should auction, sell, or trade your car.


  • Pros
    • Real-Time Results – No more guesswork about when you’ve found the right buyer.
    • Less Paperwork – Auction platforms like Carmigo handle all the paperwork.
    • Better/Fairer Price – An auction has more buyers, and a better chance someone needs the car you’re selling and is willing to pay more.
  • Cons
    • Less Hands On – The auction provider will make most decisions (but you can still set your reserve price).
    • Includes Fee – Auctions charge a fee for their service.

Private Sales

  • Pros
    • You’re in Charge -When you sell privately, you control the sale.
    • Opportunity to match auction prices – Depending on your skills, you can bring in top-market value
  • Cons
    • Strangers – Most people don’t feel safe inviting internet strangers over to test-drive their car.
    • Bartering – The back and forth of bartering over something you’re selling is exhausting.
    • Time Consuming – Selling your car privately takes a lot of time. And that’s even if it sells fast.

Dealership Trade-In

  • Pros
    • Immediate – Selling your car immediately can be a blessing.
    • Credit Toward New Car – Getting a trade-in means you get automatic money down on your new vehicle.
  • Cons
    • Less Money – After all, you’re already on the lot. And it’s not like you can drive two cars home.
    • One Buyer, One Price – If you’re only getting one offer, chances are it’s not the best offer the marketplace has to offer.

    • Bartering – Spending time at a dealership means spending time in the back and forth.
So, can you sell your car to a dealership? Absolutely, and it may even be the best option for you. But make sure you consider all the options before settling on a dealership-trade-in.

Carmigo’s Auction Platform

Carmigo Auction ServiceAt Carmigo, we built an online auction platform that lets you list your car to a network of dealerships in our 24-hour auctions. That means you’ll get the absolute best offer for your car from every dealership in our network, and in record time.

If your local dealership isn’t willing to pay what you want for your car, chances are one of the dealerships in our network will. And that’s simply because we work with so many dealerships — each with its own inventory needs.

Some of them need more trucks, and some of them need more EVs. Some want newer used Teslas, some want slightly older economy vehicles.

If you’re on the fence about selling your car to a dealership, try listing it on Carmigo to see if we can help you get the right price. It’s always free to list.

How to auction a car and make more money in less time.

How to Auction a Car And Start a Bidding War

Here is the best part about auctions: If you create a good listing, you can actually start a bidding war. Creating a bidding war is the best outcome when selling anything, and an auction is the only way to do it.

A bidding war is when two or more bidders are still interested in your car toward the end of an auction. They will then place new and higher bids back and forth until the auction closes or one of them realizes they’ve surpassed their intended budget.

This can be done in a few ways:

  1. By starting your price under what you’re willing to sell to attract early bids and create social proof for other buyers who may have been on the fence. It’s sort of like your listing going viral.
  2. A clean car shows bidders that the car has been taken care of, so give it a quick wash and vacuum. Maybe throw away those Taco Bell Mexican Pizza boxes, too.
  3. Include pictures of premium features like a sunroof or entertainment system.

Check out our complete list of tips to start a bidding war here.