How to Get the Most Out of Your Trade-In

September 1st, 2016 by

Jeep CompassTrading in your old vehicle should be as simple as driving it to the dealership, getting a standard, set price, and then applying the cash you get toward your new ride.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Much like buying a new vehicle, selling your old one demands some negotiation, and since it’s a used car there are some extra factors that can go into the final price. If you want to get the best value possible, consider the following tips:

Research Your Vehicle

Looking up your vehicle’s Kelley Blue Book price should be only the first step you take in finding out how much your trade-in is worth. Local trends can be a lot different from where they are at the national level, so try to find similar vehicles in your area to see how much people are asking for (and getting) for something close to the same thing. You’ll still have to adjust for outstanding repairs and the miles on your odometer, but doing the research should put you close to the best price you can ask for.

Pay for a Professional Detailing

Despite how often we say not to judge books by their covers, first impressions count for a lot. To make that first impression good, you should go to a professional detailing shop and get your vehicle scrubbed clean from top to bottom, inside and out. Your car will look more valuable if it looks and smells factory-new, and if nothing else the appraiser will likely offer you a little more for doing something the dealership would have had to do anyway.

Keep an Eye on the Repair Bill

Cleaning and detailing your vehicle is relatively cheap, but repairs aren’t. While you should perform regular maintenance like replacing the engine oil and the air filter, if you need to replace a worn out part and it’s going to take $1,000, you should think twice before paying the price. The dealership won’t necessarily pay an extra $1,000 for a car in better shape, because it will cost them much less to do the repair in-house. You should let them know about the problem since they’ll find out about it anyway, but the lower price you’ll get should still be a net gain over paying for the repair.

Sell Separately

If your current vehicle’s brand doesn’t match the brands sold by the dealership, there’s a good chance you’ll get a lower price than if you sell it privately or sell it to an affiliated dealership. After all, most of their customers are only interested in the cars that match the dealership’s brands, which means they’re less likely to sell an off-brand trade-in.

Depending on its age, value, and popularity, getting a better price for your trade-in could mean getting $100 or $200 more, or it could mean getting upwards of $1,000. Either way, it’s always good to get a great deal on your old vehicle, because every last cent of it is a cent off the price of your new car.


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Posted in Car Tips