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How Does Selling Your Car to a Dealership Work?

Excited Couple Reviewing Trade in Offer with Salesman


Whether you have your eye on a new model or you’re looking to free up space in your Vienna driveway, most dealerships offer to buy your vehicle through a buyback program or when you purchase a new vehicle. The best part is there’s no obligation. You can choose to save money on your next vehicle purchase or take the offer home. Whichever you choose, learning how to sell a car at a dealership can save you time and hassle. If you’re wondering about how selling your car to a dealership works, follow along with Stohlman Volkswagen to get an idea of what to expect.

Steps for How to Sell a Car at a Dealership

Thankfully, if you’re wondering how selling your car to a dealership works, it’s a relatively straightforward process. There are a couple of steps you can take to start:

  • Clean Up Your Car: Taking the time to make your car presentable increases the value when stopping by the dealership. Consider getting the car washed, detailed, and take care of any small repairs like replacing windshield wipers or floor mats. 
  • Write Down the Benefits Of Your Car: If you’ve put work into your car, be sure to highlight it! Having a detailed record of maintenance and listing additional features such as extra key fobs or bike mounts makes your model more appealing to dealerships.
  • Have Your Car’s Title on Hand: Be prepared for when you go into the dealer and have your vehicle’s title on hand, so you can get your offer faster.
  • Research Your Car’s Value: It helps to do your research. With tools like, Kelley Blue Book, the trade-in value from your local dealership, you can find the estimated value and research your model, and use this information to negotiate your price.
  • Pick Your Dealership Wisely: While most Fairfax dealerships will take your newer, gently used vehicle no matter their inventory or the vehicle’s initial condition, you’ll find that older models are easier to sell at a used car dealership.

What to Expect When Selling to a Dealership

Once you’re prepared, the car selling process continues to be simple. Here’s what you can expect when learning how to sell a car at a dealership:

  • Make an Appointment: Dealerships welcome walk-ins, but scheduling an appointment allows the dealer to prepare and have all the documents you need ready. 
  • Used Car Manager: You’ll then meet with a Used Car Manager or a salesperson where they’ll collect your information and run a vehicle history report on your car.
  • Inspection: From there, the Used Car Manager or technician will inspect your vehicle for internal and external condition to establish its value.
  • Consider the Offer: You can then choose to accept the offer the dealership presents or visit another dealership to look for a better offer.

Benefits of Selling to a Dealership

Not only is exploring how selling your car to a dealership a simple process but there are a couple of other benefits that are sure to win you over:

  • Save Time & Avoid Hassles: With private sales you have to juggle listing your car online, fielding potential buyers, and inviting strangers to your Alexandria-area home for test drives costing you time and stress.
  • Lower Your New Car Price: If you’re planning on buying a new model, trading in your current model with a dealer allows you to apply the value towards your new car, and lead to lower monthly payments.
  • Save on Your Taxes: Another benefit of trading in your vehicle is that you’ll only have to pay the sales tax on the difference between the trade-in value and the cost of the new car.

Trust the Team at Stohlman Volkswagen with Your Car Buying and Selling!

At Stohlman Volkswagen, we’re dedicated to giving you a worry-free selling experience, and now that you know how selling your car to a dealership works, you’re ready to take the next steps. Reach out to our team to schedule a time to stop in or if you have any car buying and selling questions. Be sure to take a look at our other guides that explore in-house financing, or how to calculate interest rate on car loans.

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