Getting the Most for Your Trade-In

When it comes to getting the most money for your trade-in, doing a few simple things to prep your vehicle could boost a dealer’s offer. These small steps could mean the difference between getting a little and getting a lot for your old car.

Preparing Your Trade-In for Sale

Since trade-in equity could mean a lot of money toward a down payment on your next vehicle, it's only natural that you want to get the most out of your old car as you can. When it comes time to trade in your old wheels for a new ride, you may be able to increase the value in your trade-in.

Here are five tips to help you get the most out of your trade-in:

  1. Getting the Most for Your Trade-InFix minor damage – If there are a few dings and scratches on your vehicle, it may benefit you to buff them out, pop out dents, and fix up dings. Major body damage, say from a single car collision, may not be worth it to repair, though. Big dents and truly damaged areas of a vehicle can be expensive to repair, and you're not likely to get your money's worth if you fix these yourself before trying to trade in your car.
  2. Scrub-a-dub – When it comes to trade-ins, a clean vehicle is always a better bet than trying to trade in a trash heap that needs a deep cleaning. Make sure to clean your car both inside and out. There's probably no need to spend money on a detail, depending on the condition of your vehicle, but if you've never cleaned your cloth seats or have stains stuck to every surface, cleaning might increase the trade-in offer.
  3. Gather your documents – Keeping service records for your car is a good practice, and trading in a vehicle with a fully detailed service history may help your case. Don't expect this to garner much extra cash, but service records can be a useful selling tool to show how you’ve maintained your car over the years.
  4. Get an estimate online – Before you head off to a dealership and sell your vehicle to the first dealer that appraises it, know what you're in for. Getting an estimate online through a valuation site such as Kelley Blue Book or NADAguides can help you prepare. These sites only offer estimates, the actual cash value of your car depends on what a dealership is willing to offer you. Valuation sites rely on consumer input to generate an estimate, so be honest when you're filling out the form.
  5. Shop around – Never assume you have to take the first offer that comes up for your vehicle. It's in your best interest to take your car for appraisal at no less than three dealers. Make sure that at least one of them is a franchised dealership that sells the brand of vehicle you have, since they're more likely to be able to offer you a higher price than independent dealers who don't deal with your make or model regularly.

Is There Equity in Your Trade?

Going into a trade-in negotiation is something that you don't want to do blind. Along with knowing your car's estimated worth, you also need to find out whether or not there's equity in your trade-in. To do this, contact your current lender and find out how much you owe on your current loan.

Subtract the estimated value of the vehicle, which you got either from appraisal or online valuation, from the 10-day payoff total from your lender. If you owe more than your car is worth, it means you have negative equity. This won't stand between you and being able to trade in, but you’ll owe money out of pocket to cover the rest of your current loan balance.

If your loan is already paid off and you own the vehicle free and clear, the entire value of your car is equity which you could use toward the purchase of your next vehicle.

Ready to Get Your Next Car?

Now that you know how to prepare your trade-in car to get the most out of it that you can, you need to find a dealership that can work with your credit situation. If you have less than perfect credit, finding a lender for your situation could be tough. It doesn't have to be though, if you let The Car Connection do the searching for you.

We’ve put together a network of special finance dealers all across the country that are signed up with subprime lenders that can help people with bad credit, no credit, and even bankruptcy. To get started on the path toward your next vehicle today, simply fill out our no-obligation auto loan request form.

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