There are a lot of things to think about when you’re shopping for your next vehicle, and for many people that includes considering how to get rid of your current one. Generally speaking, this means either trading your car into a dealer or trying to sell it yourself. While a private sale will probably get you more money, selling your vehicle to a dealer can often be a bit easier, though you will likely walk away with less cash in your pocket.
So why would you trade in your vehicle rather than sell it privately? What you may lose in money you can save in time and hassle. Here are a few ways that you can boost your vehicle’s trade-in price.
Find Out What Your Current Car is Worth
You can’t know if you’re getting a good price for your car unless you know what it’s actually worth. For that, we suggest using Carfax History-Based Value. It’s a resource that takes into account the basics like your car’s features and model year and specific details that affect the value of your vehicle. These include its accident history, service history and its condition.
Consider a Quick Cleanup and Recall Repairs
You want your trade-in vehicle to make a good impression when it’s being valued by the dealership. Get a car wash, inside and out, to make it look spic and span. Additionally, you should make sure that you resolve any recall issues before taking it in for an estimate. If a dealership has to fix these problems before putting your vehicle on its used-car lot, it will likely lower the trade-in offer you get. In all likelihood, you won’t have to pay for any recall repairs because the cost falls on the automakers. We offer a free recall check, which will let you know if there are any issues that need to be addressed.
Outside of recalls, don’t put too much money into your trade-in. The math simply isn’t in your favor since many dealerships can do repairs at cost. For example, your vehicle might have a problem that would normally cost you $500 to fix. A dealership may be able to do it for just $250, at cost. When faced with this, you have two options when trading in your car. You can pay $500 out of pocket or be prepared to take a little less for the trade-in. Taking less for the trade-in usually makes better financial sense.
Consider What You Owe on a Lease or Loan
Millions of people don’t own their cars outright. They lease them or have an auto loan, instead. The good news is that you can still trade these vehicles in, even if you don’t own them completely. You will, however, see the difference in your bottom line. Any money you owe on a loan or lease must be paid off before the dealership takes possession of the vehicle. If you’re upside down on the car loan or lease, owing more than it’s worth, you’ll have to fork over the loan or lease balance to get rid of the vehicle.
That said, many dealerships, especially those selling new cars, are more than happy to help get you out of a current lease or loan to put you in a new or used vehicle from their inventory. They will often add the cost of your underwater loan or lease to the next vehicle you lease or buy from them. That will impact long-term costs of your new car, but it can take some of the sting out of being upside down on your loan.
Trade-in Timing Matters
You can also maximize value on a trade-in with careful timing. Beyond leases and loans, there are a number of other ongoing costs you may have for a car, like annual registration fees or monthly parking. Since you generally pay in advance for most of these, if you trade in your car right after you pay, that money’s wasted. You get the most value if you can trade in your vehicle right before a big bill is due.
Doing the Deal
Negotiating the price of the car you’re trading in may not be fun, but it can be effective. It pays to keep trade-in negotiations and purchasing negotiations separate. It can be easy to get confused when you’re juggling two transactions at the same time.
We recommend showing the dealer the Carfax History-Based Value and your service records when negotiating a trade-in. This puts facts on your side, and you can reduce the potential for conflict.
You should also consider visiting multiple dealerships to compare multiple offers. Different locations can have different needs, and if one is trying to boost its inventory for your kind of vehicle, you may get a better offer. The downside is that this takes time and effort, and you can’t be sure that the dealership with the best trade-in offer will give you the best deal if you’re looking to buy a new car.