There are many advantages to trading in your old car to a dealership. The biggest one is that with most trade-ins the owner receives near immediate cash consideration for the vehicle. The other big selling point with trading in a car is that you have very little to worry about as far as your car's defects go. It's an immensely simple process, one that will allow you to not get caught up in listing a sale ad, meeting potential buyers, and stressing over whether the check you get from a buyer for your old car will clear.
Tips for Trading in Your Car
Your car is likely one of your most valuable and important possessions. Thus, it is important to know how to trade it in. Remember that car dealers make a living by buying cheap and selling high. Going in prepared will ensure that you get the best deal on your car.
Valuing Your Car
Before taking your car down to the lot, you should have an idea of what it is worth as a trade in. Kelley Blue Book, which features prices on used vehicles going back twenty years, is the gold standard reference for determining the value of new and used vehicles. Bring a copy of the value report you find using the Kelley Blue Book with you to show the salesperson at the dealership. This is a good starting point for negotiating the trade-in price and will let the sales staff know you have done some research into the value of your car.
Increase the Trade-In Value
Just as you would try and make your house look extra nice if you were trying to sell it, you should take measures to make your car particularly attractive to the dealer. Clean your car as best as you can, both inside and out. Dent extractor kits allow you to take any dents out of your car yourself without going to an expensive body shop. A bottle of touch-up paint from the dealer can help you to fix any scratches or spots missing paint. Anything you can do to improve the car's appearance can only help you get a better price for it, even little things like vacuuming the inside.
Negotiating a Fair Price
There are two common obstacles to trading in to a dealership -- high trade-in values and low trade-in values. If a salesperson offers you a high trade-in price for your car, it usually means he is going to charge you a lot on your new car. It's vice versa with the low trade-in, which usually means you'll get a lower price on the new car you want. One way to avoid this is to pretend like you don't have a trade-in vehicle. Negotiate the price on your new car, then ask the dealer what he will give you for trade in. This probably won't make you many friends at the dealership, but it will keep money in your pocket.
Of course, the best way to get the most money for a used car is to sell it yourself. This involves more work, but in the end you'll be a bit richer. Should you go this route, follow most of the steps above (consult the Kelley Blue Book, clean your car in and out). Then place a classified advertisement in your local newspaper and begin setting up appointments with interested parties to show your car. For more information on used car values, check the NADA Guides. They offer prices on used cars with mileage and options from 1986 to the present.
Trade In and You
Remember that getting a good price for your trade-in means that you might be able to get a better car than you would otherwise. Chances are you aren't going to get a price wildly above market value for your used car. Indeed, you can count yourself as having scored a minor victory if you get Blue Book value for it. However, more money in your pocket is better than more money in the dealer's bank account. By taking just a few simple steps you can ensure that the price is right for your used vehicle.