Under The Hood

Dealer Trade-In Vs. Swap Motors Auction: Which Is Better?

When it comes to selling your car in just a matter of days, most people think that dealer trade-in and retailers like CarMax and Carvana are their only viable options.

Two years ago, they would have been correct. However, times have changed and consumers can now sell their vehicles quickly and for a great price through Swap Motors’ live online dealer auction. 

While dealer trade-in is convenient, more often than not the price you get will leave serious money on the table. Here’s why. When dealerships handle trade-ins there are a number of factors that force them to lower the price they offer you.

1.    The Retail vs. Wholesale decision

 If the dealer decides your car won’t be suitable for their lot, they will sell it to an auction for a lower price. To make up for the lost profit, they offer the seller less for the vehicle. There goes $400 bucks. 

2.    Reconditioning

Dealers have to recondition your car and make sure it's nice and shiny before reselling it. The estimated cost? A whopping $1000.

3.    Capital Costs 

When purchasing trade-ins, dealers have to either pay for the car in cash or finance it. Financing it costs interest, and paying in cash causes the dealer to lose cash reserves. The seller makes up for this by paying up to $300.

4.    Vehicle Value

The value of your car is always changing, often going down. Dealerships charge up to $400 to cover this.

5.    Profit Margin

 In many cases the dealer wants to give themselves as much room to work with as possible. More often than not, they will always give you the lowest trade-in offer and sell the vehicle at maximum price.

Swap Motors’ live online auction is a great way to get your used car in front of many different automobile dealers all at once. Your vehicle will sell for more than dealer trade-in because we take great care to document the condition of your car, and inspire confidence in our dealers.

Our marketplace and auction vehicle listings include HD wear and tear photos, a video of the engine running, any vehicle error codes, test drive results, remaining tire tread, and much more. To top it all off, we also include a vehicle history report.

This allows us to provide the most comprehensive, honest, and accurate view of the vehicle for dealers to see during the online auction.

How It Works

The process is not unlike a normal auction. Dealers bid on your vehicle within a set time frame, and the one with the highest bid when the clock runs out wins. If you’re interested in participating in our online auction, here’s the 4 steps you’ll need to take.

1) Request A Free Vehicle Evaluation

Our technicians will capture detailed photos and videos of your car during the inspection so buyers are completely confident in its condition.

2) Approve the Starting Price

Swap Motors lets sellers approve a starting price for our online auction. This gives the seller peace of mind, while providing the buyer with a reasonable place to begin the bidding process.    

 3) Watch the Auction Live

Our online platform allows sellers to watch the online auction LIVE as 100s of dealers fight for their car.

4) Get Paid

We’ll handle all of the paperwork, and you’ll get the check. Simple as that.

If you are looking to sell your car in the most quick and efficient way possible, then our online auction might be the right choice for you.

What makes Swap Motors’ online auction different from other dealer auctions?

Well, for starters – as of the time of this article – there aren’t any “dealer auctions” available for consumers. In order to participate in one as a buyer or seller, you have to have a valid dealer license.

There are two types of dealer auctions- physical, and online.

Going to a physical auction might seem like the best option for dealers. After all, they have the opportunity to check out the car in person to determine if it’s the right choice for them. The problem is, the window of opportunity to do so is quite limited. Our online auction lasts 6 hours, so dealers have plenty of time to review the vehicle details, evaluation results, and vehicle history report.

During regular auctions, it is easy for dealers to get caught up in the heat of the moment and spend more than they intend to. With online auctions, buyers have the ability to set a maximum bid to avoid overspending.

Also- because of the hectic environment of a physical auction, it is also much more difficult to catch ghost bidders and scams. At Swap Motors, we take the time to verify the identities of both buyers and sellers to create a safe and trusted community.

Dealer auction vs. Private Sale

Swap Motors offers two easy ways to sell your car:

1. Our Live Online Dealer Auction

2. Our Private Marketplace

In our marketplace, selling prices are determined by current supply and demand of your vehicle’s make and model. Luckily, Swap Motors takes all of the guesswork out by setting an optimal price based off multiple data points, including recent local sales in your area.

Selling privately maximizes the value of your vehicle by cutting out the middleman, and as a result you can make 20-25% more money than dealer trade- in!

Which do dealers pay more for? Trade-in cars or auction cars?

Dealerships don’t have any reason to pay you more for a trade-in than they would pay you to get the same make and model from an auction. Typically, a car’s auction price is set lower than market value but sellers still make more because of bidding competition. This leaves trade-ins with a capped value at less than market price with no opportunity for upward bidding.

So I can sell my car in your auction. Does that mean I can purchase one too?

Unless you are a licensed automotive dealer, the answer is no. Dealer auctions are only open to those with a dealer license issued to them by their state of residence. It is possible to get your own dealers license, but the process can often be long and difficult.

When should I sell my car in Swap's Live Online Auction vs. privately?

When you are looking to sell quickly and efficiently, Swap Motors' Live Online Auction is likely the best option for you. Swap Motors’ Auction conveniently connects you to 100s of dealers who are all ready to buy your vehicle on the spot, and pay more than dealer trade-in!

If you have more time on your hands and you are hoping to maximize the value of your car then selling your car privately through Swap Motors marketplace is the best option. We’ll inspect your car, prepare a listing, and advertise it on our social media + major car-listing websites to attract more buyers.

The best part about marketplace? It’s 100% free!

Often times, people are wary about selling their car privately because of safety concerns. We get it. That’s why we’ve taken a couple steps to make sure your private selling experience is safe as possible.

1.    We verify the identities of all buyers and sellers.

2.    All communication is done through our platform, so your real email and phone number are never revealed.

3.    When it comes time to meet up with buyers, you can do so at one of our secure “Swap Centers”. Attended by our staff and stocked with refreshments, there simply isn’t a better place to close the deal.

Also, buyers love closing the deal at Swap Centers because we offer titling, tax, registration and plate services – free of charge. And who doesn’t want to skip a 3 hour line at the DMV?

What do I need to do to prepare my car to sell in Swap Motors Auction?

Start by registering your vehicle here.

After we review your vehicle details, we’ll set an initial auction starting price. After you’ve accepted the price, you can schedule your free vehicle evaluation at a time and place that is convenient for you. Your final auction starting price may go up or down slightly depending on the true condition of your car.

Before your vehicle evaluation, we recommend cleaning your car inside and out and giving it a fresh coat of wax. Or, get it detailed if you don’t want to do either! This is when we take the pictures and videos of your vehicle, so you want to do everything you can to make it look attractive as possible.

Make sure to upload any documents that will add value to your car like maintenance records, certifications, and extended warranties. These documents will increase the confidence dealers’ have in your vehicle, and therefore the amount of money they are willing to bid to buy it!

Once your vehicle has been scheduled for auction, all you need to do is sit back, relax and watch as 100s of dealers bid on your car. Once your car is sold, we will handle all of the paperwork and cut you a check. Sound easy? It is. Have a vehicle to sell? You can get started here