The time has come – you’re ready to invest in a new car. When it’s time to purchase a new-to-you vehicle, trading in your current car is a great way to reduce costs. Regardless of if you’re interested in a certified pre-owned car or a brand spankin’ new vehicle, you can use your trade-in to access better loan financing and to decrease your monthly payment. Compared to selling your car on the private market, trading in your vehicle at the dealership is a much simpler process. For these reasons, many choose to trade-in their car at their local dealership.
To ensure that you are getting the best value possible for your trade-in, there are several things you can do before talking to the dealership. Here are some of the top tips if you’re looking to increase the value of your car trade-in:
Repair Any Small Issues on Your Own
Obviously, when attempting to trade-in your vehicle, you’ll want to make sure that it’s functioning properly. You will want to complete a full inspection of your car to ensure that everything is working as intended. Check your windshield and windows for any chips or large scratches. Make sure that there are no major indentations or chips on the exterior of the car. Verify that all car lights are working, including headlights, tail lights, turn signals, and brake lights. Check your fluid levels for things like oil, windshield wiper fluid, coolant, etc.
Ensure that your tires are in decent condition and inflated properly. Make sure that none of your check engine lights are on. You can take your car for a mini test drive around the neighborhood to verify functionality. When doing so, make sure that there are no noises or vibrations that are out of the ordinary.
Any minor repairs should be made before bringing the car to the dealership. If you know that there is some more major issue with your car, such as a serious mechanical issue or engine trouble, it may not make sense to make a repair on your own. The dealership will be able to fix any larger problems. Although they will need to reduce your car’s trade-in value, you may actually still be netting positive by not paying for a costly repair yourself.
Clean Your Car, Both The Interior and Exterior
Giving your car a good wash before trading it in is always a good idea. Of course, how clean your vehicle is doesn’t actually affect its trade-in value. However, the dealership may get an overall better impression of the car, which may subconsciously affect the offer that you receive. Before bringing your car to the dealership, make sure that you clean both the inside and outside of the vehicle.
You should be sure to wipe down all hard surfaces, make sure that there aren’t any major stains on the seats, and vacuum the interior thoroughly. You should also consider driving through a car wash to ensure that the exterior is looking good. You don’t need to invest in an expensive detailing service – just make sure that the car looks purchasable.
Remove Any Personal Items
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised just how many people forget personal items inside their trade-ins! Before heading to the dealership, make sure that you check everywhere inside the car for anything that you may own. This includes the trunk, glove box, side consoles, and under the seats. This isn’t just helping to make your car appear neater – you’ll be ensuring that you don’t leave anything important or valuable behind!
Time Your Trade-in Well
The timing of your trade-in can actually play a larger role than you may think in the offer that you receive on the vehicle. During certain times of the year, specific makes and models may be in higher demand and, therefore, warrant a higher trade-in value. For example, an SUV that has hardy four-wheel drive will be in much higher demand as winter approaches.
Similarly, these cars may receive a lower trade-in value offer at the end of springtime, when summery conditions lower the demand for four-wheel drive vehicles. If you time your trade-in just right, you may be able to increase the offer that you get, allowing you to lock in better financing options for your new car purchase. Depending on what vehicle you’re interested in buying, timing may also help you get a better deal on your new car as well.
Determine Your Car Trade-in Value Beforehand
Before heading into the dealership, you should try and determine trade-in value for your car so that you know what to expect once you’re speaking with a sales representative. Make sure that you don’t value your trade-in prior to fully inspecting your vehicle and repairing any minor damage. In order to receive an accurate quote, you’ll need to have a realistic understanding of the condition of your vehicle. It’s important to be honest about any problems with your car when determining its value. Artificially bolstering the condition of your car will only give you an inaccurate value, which will be unrealistic when you try to trade the car in.
You can use several online resources to start valuing your trade-in. To get a ballpark idea of what you are working with, you can start by researching your car’s make, model, and year. By doing so, you can get a gauge for what other sellers in the market are offering for their similar vehicles. You should also cross reference the condition of the cars you find online with your own, to get a more accurate picture of what you can expect to sell it for.
If you want to get a more specific trade-in value, be sure to check if your dealership has an online trade-in evaluation tool. After inputting a few key details – like car make, model, year, odometer reading and more – you’ll receive a trade-in value for your vehicle. You can compare this dealership value to those you were researching online. In general, you should expect to get slightly less value from a trade-in at the dealership than from an online sale. However, the convenience and better financing packages often make this slight difference in price well worth it.
Trading in your car makes a lot of sense. Not only is the process significantly easier and more convenient than private sales, but you can also greatly lower the cost of your new car through better auto loan financing packages and a lower monthly payment. To make sure that you’re getting the best value possible for your trade-in, make sure that you follow the above tips before heading into the dealership.