Sell or trade your old car or truck?

Hand holding car key next to car with open door

When it's time to get rid of a car or truck you have two primary options: you can simply trade it in at the dealership or sell it on your own.

Trading in is the easiest since there’s virtually no work involved on your part.

The trade-off for that convenience is that you won’t get as much money for the car.

That means you've got to decide whether the extra money is worth the extra effort of slapping a "For Sale" sign on the windshield, shining it up, putting a catchy ad Craigslist, and showing it to potential buyers.

In many cases the answer is "Yes."

Just go to Kelley Blue Book and look up the trade-in price and private-party price for your car or truck.

It only takes a minute or two to enter the make and model of your vehicle, how many miles it's been driven and which options it came with. (Yes, that premium sound system counts for something.)

If the difference between the two prices is only a matter of a few hundred dollars you actually may not want to bother with selling it yourself.

But if the difference is more than a few hundred dollars, perhaps even more than $1,000, you probably will want to opt for a private sale.

If you are persistent and take the time to make your car look the best, and market it online, you should have no trouble selling your vehicle yourself if you price it fairly.

If you have a few thousand dollar cushion over the trade-in price that means you have some room to work with pricing where you can still come out ahead.

When you get that check or cash in-hand you’ll be glad you sold it privately and can make a nice big down payment on a new car.