How to Optimize Your Trade-In

When buying a new vehicle, many people decide to trade-in an old car to make room for the new one. This is a process that can save the buyer a lot of money, and help them dispose of their old car quickly and easily. If you're ready to drive something new, help yourself by getting the most from the old one.

What is a Trade-in?

A vehicle trade-in is a deal between a car buyer and a dealership to take the old car in exchange for a value that is then applied to the new car. It’s a simple way to take care of down payment requirements and can help make buying a new car more affordable.

Easy Ways to Improve Value

Before having your vehicle evaluated, it makes sense to make it look its best. However, don’t spend much effort repairing any issues the car may have unless the repairs are simple and inexpensive.

While talking with the associate from the dealership, make him aware that you know what the car is worth, and show off any value adds like upgrades or maintenance records.

Shop Around

While a buyer will often compare prices for a new car at several dealerships, they may not work as hard looking for the dealership willing to give them the best price for their trade-in. Take the time to visit at least 3 different dealerships in your area before deciding who to work with. Find a good vehicle at each of the locations and find out how much it will cost, as well as how much they will give on the trade-in, then choose the dealership with the best net offer.

Dealers Care About Making Their Money Back

The main thing that a car dealer is going to be worried about when purchasing a trade-in vehicle, is how long it’s going to take to make that money back again. Things like popularity and the current vehicle lineup affect that figure. Dealerships are thrilled to buy vehicles that can be sold quickly for a profit, and will generally give a more favorable trade-in amount for them. Cars they know will sell slowly aren’t going to be treated quite so favorably.

What Factors Affect the Dealer's Offer?

There are specific details dealers consider as they value a trade-in besides obvious things like condition or mileage.

Some of the items included in the decision-making process include:

Current inventory - Will the car sell quickly in light of the cars already on their lot?

Features - Does the car have components and upgrades known to be popular?

Vehicle age - Will a later model trade-in possibly cause the loss of a new car sale?

Get Top Value for Your Trade

The rule of thumb here is to negotiate the price of the new car before mentioning a trade-in. Otherwise, you risk the dealer manipulating the trade-in offer into the new car cost, artificially inflating the generosity of the offer. Make the deal first, then use the trade-in to sweeten it. Your trade-in should benefit you, not the dealership.