Selling your car: Trading In vs Private Sale


When you’re looking to upgrade your car to a new model, often you are faced with the dilemma of how to sell your current car.

There are two common methods to consider: trading it in at a dealership, or selling the car privately.

Both methods have their pros and cons, so how you decide to go about it will depend on your priorities and needs. Do you need to sell it quickly? How much time do you have? Or do you need to get as much money for it as possible so you can finally go on that holiday?


Trading in to a Dealer


  • A car dealership will accept a car in almost any condition. You obviously won’t get top dollar if repairs are required, but you will easily rid yourself of the car and all its headaches
  • It’s simple, convenient and saves you time. The deal can be done in a matter of minutes and the dealership takes care of all the transfer paperwork
  • The trade-in amount can be deducted from the price of your new car


  • You generally won’t make as much money on your trade at a dealership. You are likely to receive 10-20% less than market value
  • Negotiating with a dealer to get the best trade-in price, can sometimes be daunting. Make sure you are prepared to haggle


Private Sale


  • Selling privately is likely to put more money in your pocket
  • You have control of the selling price
  • If you have a popular model car, with all the features that customers want, all your service history and low mileage, your car is likely to sell quickly privately


  • You will need to do your research on numerous websites to decide on the acceptable “market price” for your car
  • The car will need to be spotless and all repairs done, as the private buyer will scrutinise the vehicle from top to bottom
  • You’ll need to arrange your own advertising
  • It’s best to have proof of your vehicle’s service and maintenance history to avoid curly questions from buyers
  • Most buyers ask for a mechanical inspection report before purchasing, so it’s best to be on the front foot with this
  • Waiting around for people to come and look at the car can be tiresome and unproductive…not to mention it could take weeks or months to finally find the right buyer
  • Make sure you ask your buyer for ID and check they have insurance before test driving your car. Most importantly don’t sign any transfer papers until you have been paid for it


PPSR Search

Whether you are selling privately or through a dealership, you should consider doing a PPSR (Personal Property Securities Register) search before selling. This will provide you with a certificate to hand on to the prospective buyer proving that there’s no finance owing on the vehicle. The buyer will have peace of mind that they aren’t taking on any debt with the second-hand car and it will speed up the sales process.

Just remember, consider what your needs are, and whether it’s worth selling privately and possibly making more money, or if you’d benefit by trading in and saving both time and effort.

Smartline have experts on hand to assist you with all things cars – from unbiased advice on the best cars for the best resale, through to finding you the best finance options for personal or business use.



Cairns Mortgage Broker – Jason Thomson is a Mortgage Adviser and Finance Broker based in Cairns with clients all around Australia. Client reviews featured on his website prove that Jason is a trusted industry professional, facilitating great outcomes for his clients. Using his wealth of experience in financial services, he thrives on delivering superior service. Jason is very approachable and is always looking for new clients to help in the often confusing world of finance and property. Offering a no fee service, you’ve got nothing to lose by having an obligation free chat with Jason today.