Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

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How to Get the Best Trade in Value for Your Car

Sometimes drivers want to swap their used car in for a newer model, but before you start shopping for a newer ride it’s important to make sure that your current vehicle is prepped to get the best trade in value possible. The trade in value of a used car depends on a lot of different factors, but with a little research and preparation drivers can be confident that they’re getting the best deal possible when they trade in their car. Even though having a trade in can be the more convenient and seamless way to switch one used car in for a newer option, there are pros and cons that drivers need to consider and be aware of while going through the process. Furthermore, drivers also need to plan to not just prep their vehicle to get the most for it during the trade in, but also ensure they don’t make common mistakes that would negatively impact their odds of getting the best value for their used car.

Pros and Cons

One positive of choosing to stay with the trade in value that a dealership offers is the value is applied to the purchase of the newer vehicle, so it’s possible to drive onto the lot in one car and drive away with the one you want. It can also be a seamless and quick process, versus trying to go through the effort of finding a private party to sell the car too. When a driver opts to trade in their used vehicle, they don’t have to worry about obtaining the funds by selling the car privately first. However, there are some cons that used car owners should also be aware of if they want to apply the trade in value to their new vehicle.

For starters, drivers aren’t likely to get as much when they opt for a trading in their vehicle versus selling their vehicle privately. This is because dealerships and professional buyers are trained in the evaluation process of not just how much a vehicle is worth, but also how much they’ll be able to resell it for and still make a profit. Also, even if the used car owner isn’t thrilled about the trade in offer they’re getting unless they’re in a position to try and sell their vehicle on their own first, then they may have to accept the offer even if it’s not what they prefer. However, if some basic tips are followed, then the highest value for a used vehicle can be achieved.

Avoid These Mistakes and Get the Best Value for Your Used Car

While drivers should attempt to have their vehicle be presented at its best, some prep to get the used car ready to sell can actually negatively impact its trade in value at the dealership. For instance, having the car freshly detailed before bringing it in for trade may sound like a good idea so that the used car is shown at its best. Doing this can actually hurt the dealer offer, though, since that tactic makes it obvious the car owner is interested in purchasing a different vehicle that day.

Car owners may also think repairing the vehicle from minor issues or giving it a complete overhaul before taking it for a value assessment will help their efforts to get the best deal possible, but this isn’t the case. That value won’t dramatically increase if new tires are put on or if minor details are fixed. In fact, oftentimes the dealer is able to fix anything that needs to be modified or updated before it’s put on the lot. That being said, if there are any major issues with the vehicle, the owner needs to be aware that this will impact its ability to be resold and thus its trade in value.

A car dealer is giving the thumbs up for giving the best trade in value.

Emotional attachments can also get in the way of getting the best trade in value possible for a used car. It’s understandable that some drivers may be attached to their vehicle for personal reasons, but it’s important to remember that any appraisal they may get on their car – or do themselves – is merely an estimate of an approximate trade in rate. The actual value that a used car could receive for a trade in can vary from an appraisal. If a driver is intent on getting a dollar amount that’s as close to the appraisal as possible, then arriving with an estimate in writing is crucial. Without this, then the car owner is hard pressed to negotiate the value with the dealership or buyer. Finally, if a driver is sure that they want to apply the trade in value of their used vehicle to their next car purchase, then they should be upfront about this during initial conversations with a salesperson and/or buyer. Leaving this information out can actually impede negations.

Prep Your Car to Get the Best Trade In Value

Now that you know what not to do when getting ready to trade in your vehicle, it’s time to dive into how to properly prepare to get to the best rate possible. As already mentioned, arriving without a written estimate or appraisal can hurt the process to get the best value possible. Knowing what the vehicle appraisal is before trying to swap the car out for a different vehicle will give the owner a ballpark number that they might receive.

Also, getting more than one appraisal can also be helpful. It can be tempting for car owners to be overly optimistic about what their car is actually worth, so getting more than one estimate or appraisal can help manage expectations about what the realistic value could be. Also, it’s important for drivers to keep in mind that beyond the used car’s condition, supply and demand can also impact the final trade in offer. Another tip that can help a car owner get the best value possible is taking the used vehicle to a different model dealership. This can help minimize the competition since the odds of having the same make and model on the lot are not as high.

After you’ve done your due diligence and received more than one appraisal, it’s time to start shopping for a seller. Taking the used car to more than one dealership or buyer to find out what the offer could be is recommended. Drivers may find that offers may vary enough that taking the first one wouldn’t have been the best idea. Keeping the trade in value negotiations separate from the purchase of the new or newer car is also best since the trade in price can be applied towards the purchase of the next vehicle.

Getting the best trade in value for a used car doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take time and preparation. More often than not, drivers opt to trade in their vehicle versus selling it privately because of the convenience factor. It provides. However, just because trading in a car can be more convenient doesn’t mean that the owner can’t get as much value out of it as possible. By properly preparing, the trade in value of a used car can easily help the process of purchasing a new one.