Who Buys Used Cars?

Who Buys Used Cars

All kinds of people are interested in buying used cars. While most new car owners probably consider a brand new car as the best possible option, not everyone can afford to commit to several years of high payments on a vehicle. Some people are only looking for a car that can provide reliable transportation to and from work until their circumstances improve, and a used automobile is just fine for these cases.
For example, some newly licensed drivers will drive a used car for a few years, until they have a steady job, and have more experience with driving.

Dealers are also on the lookout to buy used vehicles, recognizing that there is a strong demand for them and that they can still be profitable in terms of sales.

Cars that may not be operational can still be sold to a salvage dealer, who will remove useful parts and re-sell them to people who need them.

As you can see, there are all kinds of people who will buy used cars because there are many different kinds of need for those vehicles. Here are some of the people you can sell used cars to, and how you would go about doing that.

What Condition is My Car In?

The most commonly referred to resource for the value of any vehicle is the Kelley Blue Book. This popular resource prices used cars by conditions and separates vehicle condition into four different grades.

1. Excellent condition

Excellent condition means that an automobile requires no reconditioning, is in exceptional functional shape, and looks brand-new in appearance. That means it has no rust and has never had any collision work done on it. Additional criteria include a clean title history and passing a safety and smog inspection with no problems. The car can’t have any engine leaks, visible defects, or apparent signs of wear and tear. While this is the best possible condition rating, it’s also the least common, with only 5% of all used vehicles belonging to this category.

2. Very good condition

Any vehicle which is in very good condition is likewise free of any significant defects and has a clean title history. There should be little or no rust on the car. Also, if any collision work has been done, there should be only minor defects, with no major mechanical issues. Tires should be in excellent shape and should have plenty of tread left. Any vehicle which is considered to be in very good condition may need some reconditioning before being sold.

3. Good condition

Any vehicle designated as being in good condition will probably have some minor mechanical or cosmetic issues but is still in pretty good running condition. The car will have a clean title history, but there may be some rust damage. There may also be some paint and bodywork which needs to be performed by a qualified auto vehicle specialist. Tires may need replacing, and some general cleanup may be required on the automobile. “Good condition” is the largest category of used cars and the one which most used cars will fall into.

4. Fair condition

A vehicle in fair condition probably has some significant cosmetic defects, as well as some mechanical issues. It may also have some problems that you cannot repair quickly. For instance, it might have a body that is rusted through or some damaged framework.

Furthermore, any vehicle which has a branded title resulting from flood damage or salvage work, or which has unsubstantiated mileage, will be considered to be in poor condition. Vehicles falling into this category may need an external appraisal to identify their real value. About18% of vehicles fall into the “fair condition” category.

What is the Value of My Car Based On Condition?

It isn’t challenging to determine the market value of your vehicle based on its condition. There are several ways to estimate that value, the quickest and easiest of which is to use an online calculator or valuation guide. There are three primary resources available to you that can help you estimate the real value of your car:

  1. Kelley Blue Book
  2. Edmunds Guide
  3. NADA Dealership Value Guide.

Anyone of these will be beneficial in providing an estimate about your car’s valuation, and you’ll certainly at least arrive at a ballpark figure without any trouble. Let’s take a closer look at each guide.

1. Kelley Blue Book

The Kelley Blue Book will provide an immediate valuation based on the make, model, and mileage of your vehicle, along with its trim features, its condition, and the method of sale.

2. Edmunds Guide

The Edmunds guide will provide evaluation, based on Typical Market Value (TMV), and sales in your specific location for your particular vehicle type. It also takes into account whether you are doing a trade-in, selling your vehicle to a private person, or selling to a dealer.

3. NADA Guide

NADA is a guide that uses the information exclusively based on dealership data and is only provided to dealers who are members of the National Automobile Dealers Association. It does not provide you with an immediate value or estimate for your vehicle. However, it is beneficial if you want to connect with a dealership where you can obtain an estimate of the worth of your car.

How Do I Want to Sell My Used Car?

There are several methods for selling your car to choose from. The three main tactics are:

  1. Private sale
  2. Dealership
  3. Car Recycler

1. Sell your car privately

If you choose to sell your car privately, you can expect to get a better price than you would if you sold to a dealer. But you can also expect to put in a lot more work before making a sale. More than likely, you’ll have to endure the hassle of advertising your vehicle, communicating with would-be purchasers on phone calls, and showing the car to several interested potential buyers.

The first step is to obtain an accurate estimate of the real value of your car. If you want to get the most from it, you should take care of any mechanical issues or any obvious cosmetic problems. You’ll need to have all the paperwork ready for the transfer of ownership. Note: if you have an outstanding loan on the vehicle, you will, of course, have to make sure that’s paid off before selling the automobile. Depending on the state you live in, a bill of sale may be necessary for sales tax purposes. In any case, you should always keep a copy of the sales document for your records.

There are also many websites available to you where you can list your car for sale, and then wait for offers to come pouring in. Using these sites is generally a good idea. They are typically one of the first areas that interested buyers will go when they’re looking for a used vehicle. Two of the most prominent of these online sites are Autotrader.com and Cars.com.

2. Sell to a dealer

If you’ve decided to sell to a dealer, you should consult with several dealers to see what they would offer you for the vehicle. You should be wary when offering the car to a dealer in exchange for trade-in value. Any great-sounding offer the dealer might make to you could be offset by increasing the cost of a new car they’re trying to sell you. Most dealers will offer you a lower price than the actual value of the vehicle. It’s usually justifiable because of the time, labor, and expense incurred by the dealership in preparing the car for sale.

If a dealer makes you an offer that’s close to what you might have gotten through a private sale, it’s probably the most you can hope to get for your car. It’s probably a fair price as well. You can always negotiate with the dealer, but chances are, they won’t have much wiggle room. Therefore, the price he quotes you will be reasonably robust.

3. Vehicle recycling services

Several junk car removal services will buy used vehicles that aren’t in good operating condition for cash.

How the Car Recycling Process Works

You typically start the process online, and after providing a little information about the vehicle you want to sell, you can usually get an instant quote to consider. Once you’ve entered the necessary information about the make, model, mileage, appearance, and running condition of your vehicle, you will get an instant quote, a return phone call, or email from a representative.

Generally, an auto expert will review the information you provided, and then get back to you with a quote based on that data. If you decide to accept our offer, you will have to turn over the keys and a signed title. If any liens are currently in effect against the title, the recycling company will often help you get that lien removed so that the title can be released.


Depending on the condition of your vehicle, you have many options when it comes to selling your car. If you’re feeling lost, or have a car that could be a clunker, but you’re not sure, consider contacting a local junk car removal service for help.

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