Getting rid of your old car is one of the oft forgotten pain points of buying a new car. Most people essentially have two options, either they can sell their car privately or they can trade it in to the dealership. The problem with how dealers value trade-ins is the built in costs of the dealership. Many of us just want to offload our old cars as quickly as possible and the surefire way to do that is to simply trade it in – even if it means less cash in our pockets.
There's really no such thing as a professional car buyer, but there are 268,300 professional car salesmen in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And while you may go into a dealership shopping for a new car only a half-dozen to a dozen times in your life, these guys are selling that many cars each week, so you can take it for granted that they know more than you about buying a car.
A major factor in the U.S. auto market's recent deterioration was the number of people who took out car loans they couldn't afford. While being upside down on a car loan is nothing new, in 2010, 21.8 percent of Americans who bought a new car still had an average of $3,789 in negative equity on their trade-in, according to Edmunds data.