Tips for Trading in a Used Car

August 21st, 2015 by

2013 Honda Civic CoupeWhen it’s time to buy a new vehicle, many drivers decide to sell their old car. The private-party resale value of a vehicle is generally higher than the trade-in value, but trading the car in saves the time and hassle of selling it. Many car dealers accept trade-ins, but there are a few things drivers should know before heading to the dealership.

Research Your Car’s Estimated Value

First, drivers should get an idea of the vehicle’s value. Some people are sentimental about their vehicles and think the trade-in value should be higher than it actually is, so it’s important to have realistic expectations. Edmunds.com lists the car’s True Market Value, and Carmax offers free written appraisals, good for seven days. According to Edmunds, Carmax often gives the best prices for used vehicles, but drivers may wish to shop around at other car dealers for competing for offers. It’s also a good idea to go to a competing dealership.

Should You Repair Your Car Before Trading It In?

Some drivers think the value of their car can be increased if they make repairs, but this isn’t the case, and the dealer can usually fix it cheaper. It’s also not important to wash or detail the car before heading to the dealership. In fact, a clean, shiny car tips off salesmen that drivers are serious about buying that day.

Be Honest About Your Car’s History

The best time to visit car dealers is a weekday morning when there aren’t many customers. When speaking with appraisers, drivers should give an honest appraisal of the vehicle’s features and condition, erring on the side of caution, because most cars really aren’t in excellent shape. It’s not wise to exaggerate offers from other parties because most appraisers will ask to see other offers in writing. The appraised trade-in value will vary based on factors like the car’s condition, the dealer’s inventory, and the car dealer’s current promotions, so it’s wise to seek multiple offers to get the most money.

Review and Accept An Offer

At this point, drivers will need to either accept the offer or negotiate it. If two different dealers have given similar offers, it’s a good idea to move forward with whichever dealership the driver intends to buy the new car from. Appraisers may give a better deal to drivers who are definitely purchasing vehicles from their lot; so let them know up front if this is the case.

Car dealers will typically go out of their way to accommodate a trade-in if they know they’ll be getting business out of the deal, so follow this guide to get the best deal on a trade-in.

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