Cartelligent releases guide to handling the sale of a trade-in vehicle

Professional car buying service shares tips on trading in or selling a used car


SAN FRANCISCO, June 9, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Cartelligent has released its guide to handling the sale of a trade-in vehicle. The company is unique in that it works directly with individual clients and helps them weigh their options to decide exactly which car is best for them.

For many people selling their current vehicle can be as stressful and time consuming as buying or leasing a new car. The traditional options are to either sell it themselves or to trade it in at the dealership where the new car is purchased.

Both of these options have trade-offs. Selling the car to a private party should net a higher amount, but requires significantly more work and potentially dealing with strangers and a large sum of cash. Trading it in at the dealership requires less work, but can yield a lower dollar amount.

Alternatively, there are third-party services, like that offered by Cartelligent, which split the difference between these options and help consumers get more money for their trade-in without the stress and time of selling it themselves.

This article look in depth at each of the steps involved in selling a used vehicle using each of these methods and helps weigh the pros and cons of each. It also provides some tips on whichever route is chosen.

Before listing the vehicle

Cartelligent is often asked how much work a seller should put into a vehicle before selling it or trading it in. Below are some recommendations (depending on how the vehicle will be sold). Consumers should put the most effort into the car if they plan to sell it themselves. If they decide to trade it in at the dealer, it can be beneficial to opt for a professional detail and any small improvements that will help increase the value they receive.

Research the value

The first step, no matter which method is chosen, is to spend some time researching the vehicle's value so that the consumer knows what to expect and can weigh the potential gain of investing additional funds in repairs prior to sale. Websites like and can help them estimate the value range for their make and model. It can also be a good idea to look at similar vehicles online to get a sense for the local market value. Be aware that the asking price is often higher than the actual price the car will sell for. The following is typical:

  • Dealership: Lower value
  • Private Party: Higher value

It's worth noting that the valuation from the dealership can sometimes be artificially inflated by adding additional costs to the new vehicle. If the consumer opts for this route, Cartelligent highly recommends keeping the transactions separate.

Next, the consumer should locate the following paperwork in advance of selling the vehicle:

  • Loan or lease payoff
  • Vehicle title
  • Vehicle registration
  • Service records
  • Smog inspection
  • Vehicle history report
  • Bill of sale


No matter which method is chosen, Cartelligent strongly recommends a thorough detailing to make the car look more attractive and add perceived value. Potential buyers will perceive a clean car as a well-maintained car and assume the rest of the vehicle is also in top condition. Additionally it may be worthwhile to consider repairing minor cosmetic damage such as:

  • Exterior detail
  • Interior detail
  • Minor dings/bodywork
  • Windshield cracks
  • Minor scratches and paint damage
  • Scratched wheels
  • Missing hubcaps
  • Burned out bulbs

It can be a good idea to get an estimate on the cost of more extensive damage or needed repairs and then decide if the potential resale value of these will offset their upfront costs.


A mechanical check-up can alert the consumer to any issues with the vehicle and provide an estimate as to what it will cost to repair them. Cartelligent recommends that the following are taken care of:

  • Worn windshield wipers
  • Worn tires
  • Warning lights
  • Noises
  • Safety issues

Consumers who plan to sell to a private party should ensure that the vehicle is safe to be driven by the new owner. For those who opt to trade it in at the dealership, it's worthwhile to have a mechanic look at it first to be aware of exactly what problems the vehicle has before trading it in.

When it's time to sell the vehicle

In addition to the above recommendations above on preparing the vehicle for sale, Cartelligent has put together some things to consider when it's time to make the sale.

Selling the vehicle private party

For private party sales, Cartelligent recommends the following:

  • Ad Copy: Be as honest as possible in the body of the ad but use words that will be compelling to potential buyers and make them want to see the vehicle in person. Avoid abbreviations, first-person references to the vehicle and short-hand that may come across as unprofessional and detract from the perceived value.
  • Photos: Take high-quality photos of the vehicle that will show it to its best advantage in the ad. Low quality camera phone photos can make the vehicle look less appealing to potential buyers.
  • Online Ads: If the vehicle is going to be listed online, Cartelligent recommends:
    • Consider using a disposable cell phone rather than providing a personal number
    • Find a public, well-lit place for test-drives and the financial exchange
    • Call insurance to make sure the test drives will be fully covered
    • Request a cashier's check or cash for the final payment

The vehicle will need to be smogged and any balance due must be paid before the vehicle can be sold. Once the sale has been finalized, the DMV should be informed that the consumer is no longer financially or legally responsible for the vehicle. They can fill out a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form once the sale is complete - it's important to follow up in a few weeks to ensure that this went through.

Trading the vehicle in at the dealership

If the vehicle will be traded in at the dealership, Cartelligent advises:

  • Shop the trade-in at more than one dealership in order to get full information about what the vehicle is worth.
  • Make sure the trade-in transaction is completely separate from the new car transaction. Knowing what a fair value is for each can help make sure that the price is fair on each element of the transaction.
  • Be prepared to walk away on one or both parts of the deal.

No matter how the vehicle is sold, the consumer should remember to remove the vehicle from their insurance policy and FastTrak account so that they are not liable for any additional fees or damages.

Cartelligent Trade-In Service

Alternatively, Cartelligent can manage the entire trade-in process and provide a great value for the vehicle. This Trade-In Service is included at no additional charge as part of their Premium package. It is also available as a stand-alone service for $295.

Because Cartelligent take the time to research in-depth the market for the vehicle and keeps the transaction separate from the new car purchase, they can get the consumer a higher value for the vehicle than a dealership typically offers.

About Cartelligent

Since 2000, Cartelligent has helped over 20,000 California clients buy or lease any new car. The car buying service provides its clients with personal advice on car buying and leasing, negotiates a below-market price and arranges for the car to be picked up at one of its convenient locations throughout California—without ever needing to set foot in a dealership.

CONTACT:Jessica Carstens
         Marketing Manager