What To Know Before Trading In Your Vehicle

What To Know Before Trading In Your Vehicle

While selling your car yourself typically gets you more money, the convenience of trading in your old car and buying a new one right at the same time is hard to beat. But, as you may already know, going up against experienced dealers can be a daunting task. They have experience on their side, but you are not as doomed as you may think you are. Just a little bit of homework can help net you a better deal, along with a willingness to be a bit bolder than the average Joe. Here are just a few helpful hints for navigating this tricky road.

Research Value

This simple piece of advice is often overlooked, but is one of the most helpful in leveling out the playing field a bit. You don’t want to go into a dealership without the foggiest idea of what your car may be worth. Again, you may not get as good a price as if you sold it yourself, but you will be able to maximize the offer as best you can. There are several sites where you can plug in some stats about your car and get an estimated value, such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and the National Automobile Dealers Association. If you live near a Carmax, you can take it there for a free appraisal. Look on Ebay and other sites to see what similar cars are being sold for. You may even visit a few used car dealer sand ask what they would pay.


Timing is important too in getting a good price for your trade-in. You’ll probably net a better deal on a convertible in warmer weather than in the dead of winter. If gas prices are currently really high, your SUV may not be as in demand. If you owe more on your car than you think you may get for it, that weakens your bargaining position considerably. Since salesmen work on commission, you may find them more amenable to your terms near the end of the month when they are itching for those last-minute sales.

Spruce Up the Vehicle

If you are hoping to get top dollar for your trade in to aid in your buying a new car, you are going to want to spruce that puppy up as much as possible. First impressions are everything. This ‘curb appeal’ is crucial. If there are any odd odors from pets, cigarettes or the Indian food you spilled all over the back seat, get that taken care of. Get rid of any personal touches. Vacuum and clean the interior thoroughly. You want to present the car in such a way the dealer can visualize it on his lot right now.

Negotiate the New Car and Trade-In Separately

Trying to negotiate both at the same time will probably not work out well for you, but very well for the dealer who is very skilled in confusing you. Many would suggest starting with the new car first and then dropping the information that you have a trade in. But, doing the opposite may work out even better, particularly if your car is in particularly high demand. You can find this out by throwing up an ad on Craigslist and see if you get any response. You can just use the generated email on there, rather than provide personal contact information. If you don’t get a lot of interest, leading with the trade-in may not produce the same stellar results.