How to get the most for your trade-in.

If you are in the market for a new or pre-owned vehicle and plan on trading in your current vehicle, here are a few tips to help you get the highest value for your trade in.

  1. Clean your vehicle or have it cleaned prior to going to the dealership.  This might seem obvious but many people don’t.
  2. Know what your vehicle is worth before you go to the dealership.  See the other post on “What is my car Really Worth” if you need help finding your vehicle’s real value.  Sometimes dealers will offer well below the real value of the vehicle of a trade in to increase their profits.  Know what your vehicle is worth so you can have a good idea of what you want to get for trading it in.
  3. When you sit down with the salesman to talk details about the vehicle you are purchasing, negotiate the price of the vehicle you are purchasing first, let them know you have a trade-in but want to see if you can make a deal on the vehicle you are purchasing before spending any time talking about your trade in.  You want to negotiate the price of the vehicle you are purchasing separate from the price of your trade in.  Dealers prefer to bundle the two transactions so they can raise or lower the price of one or the other without affecting the overall price.  Get them to commit to a price on the vehicle you are going to purchase and once that is final then negotiate your trade in vehicle price.
  4. Let the salesman make you an offer on your trade in and compare it to what you think the vehicle is worth based on your research.  If they made you a good offer you can always counter and try to get a slightly higher offer.
  5. If they offer you significantly less, ask them to call their wholesalers and find out if they can get you a better price.  You can also ask to speak to the appraiser and ask how they came up with the value of the vehicle.  If there is a valid reason like salvage history or frame damage, then at least you know (if you didn’t already).  If there is no valid reason, let them know what you think your car is worth based on your research and ask them to appraise the vehicle again.  Sometimes dealers start with low offers without appraising the vehicle hoping you will just take whatever they offer.
  6. Finally, be prepared to walk away if the deal is not in your favor. Getting the right price for your trade can have a big impact on your total purchase price; make sure you are comfortable with all of the terms of the deal.