How to Get The Best Value When Trading In Your Car

You are now about to buy a new car but you need to get rid of your old car first. Will you sell it yourself or trade it in at a dealership?

Some car owners would do the latter because it is more convenient. But you will get more money from your car if you sell it yourself. That, however, will require more time and effort on your part.

With trade-in, dealers have to deduct the costs of repairing or detailing your car before they resell it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get good money from this deal. Below is a quick guide to getting the best value for your trade-in.

How to Get The Best Value When Trading In Your Car

1) Get a ballpark figure.

How much is your car worth right now? This is the first thing you should find out before trading in your car.

Pricing guides like and Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) give good estimates. But the actual value of your car can be thousands of dollars more or less than the estimates. The value really depends on the age, location and condition of your car. It can also be affected by the time of year.

For instance, people would be out looking for a convertible for summer road trips. All-wheel-drive vehicles are a need during winter when people want their rides to have more traction on slippery roads.

Dealerships can take your car in for a higher price when the demand for it is high. That’s a good thing to know.

2) Prepare your car.

Cleaning, washing and repairing your car may not directly boost its value. But first impressions last.

Do not, however, overdo it. Do some prep work on your car just to make it presentable before dealers. But don’t spend too much on it. Dealers can fix damages on your car or place new tires for less than you can.

3) Talk to at least 3 dealerships.

Shop around for the best trade-in deal, just like when you bought and took out a loan for that car. Contact at least three dealerships in your area and find out how much they can give you for your car. This is how you can keep real savings from the trade-in.

But you can’t go to just any dealership. The first dealerships you should contact are those that sell the same nameplate that your car has. For example, if your car is a Chevy, try trading it in at Chevrolet dealerships first. Those dealers can offer you the best value for your car because they won’t have to resell to it to another dealer. The trade-in goes directly to their used car lot.

So begin by calling dealers in your area to tell them about your car and find out whether they’ll be interested to see it.

You can also consider trading in your car at dealerships that sell rival nameplates. You won’t get a very good deal here but it’s not that bad. You can also stop by the car superstore, CarMax.

Here are a couple of tips on negotiating for the best price for your car:

  • Always tell the trade-in guys that you were offered a higher price by other dealerships. This way, they might either tell you the maximum price they could offer or offer you a better price.
  • Tell them that the car has been well maintained then try to pitch a higher amount than what they have initially offered. Tell them that you believe your car’s worth that price.

However, if your car is more than 5 years old or has over 75,000 miles, it’s better to sell it directly to independent used car dealers. Otherwise, big dealerships might just give you an unreasonably low price for your car so they can make more profit when they resell it to smaller dealerships.

Get Approved