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Old Car: Donate, Sell, or Trade In?

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What Should You do With Your Old Car?

There are a number of options for sellers when it comes to what to do with that old car. Although conventional wisdom for many years agreed the best choice was to simply trade it in, today a variety of other options are considered viable as well. Whether you want to donate your old car to a charitable cause, sell it or trade it in depends on how much you still owe on it, if anything, and what you hope to get for it.

Donate Your Old Car

One of the fastest growing new choices is to forego auto dealers and indeed the entire car market, and decide on donation instead. A number of companies now offer quick one-stop donation services that make it easy to give the car away and earn a considerable tax credit in the process. A number of nonprofits are now providing options to owners who want to make a difference. If it is paid in full and you don’t need it for a trade-in, or the trade-in value is negligible, it makes sense to get yourself a tax break and donate your old car.

Sell Your Old Car

There is still some value in simply selling a vehicle for profit. Auto dealers like to shave as much off the value of your car as possible, so you are frequently better off trying to sell the car yourself. It’s not unusual nowadays for original owners to sell their used cars for rates considerably higher than the Blue Book would have them believe. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll pay tax on your profit rather than getting a tax break if you donate. Sometimes the tax credit is the better choice. And if you still owe money on your old car, then you will most likely get more of a return by selling it than by trading it in.

Trade In Your Old Car

If you’re going to buy a new car, by far the easiest and most popular choice of what to do with your old car remains the trade-in, and today auto dealers are more amenable than ever to giving you a better rate. Whether you’re selling a barely used car or simply want to get a few hundred dollars on what amounts to a family heirloom, often a good maintenance history and smart negotiation can give you the upper hand. Look for dealers that make a habit out of restoration and you may even be able to earn more than you ever dreamed possible on an older car.

Trading in is easy, selling is the most lucrative, and donating is a great option in some scenarios. Just do your research and know what your car is really worth and what, if anything, you still owe on it before you make a decision so you get the most value, whichever choice you make.

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