Matt Jackson

Tricks of the Trade-In

If you're in the market to sell your car, getting top dollar for it may seem like a daunting task. But Consumer Reports reveals some tricks of the "trade-in" that can help get you every penny your car is worth.

The sweet spot for getting the most for your used vehicle is at the three-year mark, because dealers can resell it under a certified pre-owned program.

Even at five to seven years, Consumer Reports says vehicles can still have value because the repair costs usually haven't started to escalate.

But knowing exactly what your car is worth can be challenging. Using Consumer Reports' handy market-value calculator or taking your car to a CarMax store can help.

Consumer Reports says that offers can vary and recommends taking your car to a few local dealers to find the best one. You can also solicit offers through websites like Autotrader,, and TrueCar.

But keep in mind that if you sell your car to a dealer, you're probably going to take a financial hit. On the other hand, you can sell the car yourself and make more money, but that's going to require more time and effort on your part.

Also keep in mind that a clean car is easier to sell, whether you do it privately or through a dealer. But getting it detailed can cost $150 to $250, cutting into your profit. So you might want to wash and vacuum the car yourself.

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