4 Tips for Trading in Your Car

Hand shake as car keys are turned in to a dealership for a trade in. | Ford Dealer in Chesterton, IN

Are you in the market for a new set of wheels? Most shoppers choose to trade in their old vehicle towards the purchase of a new one. The more informed you are about the trade-in process, the more you can level the playing field once you arrive at the showroom. Feel confident when negotiating your next trade-in with these four handy tips.

1. Appraise Your Car

The first thing you’ll want to do before you walk into your local dealership is to determine the trade-in value of your car. One of today’s most popular ways to get a reliable appraisal is to visit Kelley Blue Book’s website.

You’ll want to enter all of your car’s particulars, such as make and model, year, mileage and condition, and any optional upgrades. The KBB’s database will then spit out a value range that you can expect when trading in your car, as well as the vehicle’s estimated resell value.

2. Shop Around

To get the most for your trade-in, you’re probably going to have to visit more than one dealership. Each manager is different, and they may not offer you the same price as the lot down the road. A number of factors, such as your car’s condition, the dealer’s inventory, and how likely your car is to sell, all go into that final number.

Automotive experts recommend taking your car to a showroom that doesn’t sell your type of vehicle. Often you’ll get a better offer from a different brand than you would if you were to trade up with the same dealership. For example, if you drive a Honda, you should visit a Ford dealership. That way your trade isn’t competing against the entire lot.

3. Have Your Paperwork in Order

Make sure to bring all your necessary documents with you when car shopping, including your title, insurance, and your driver’s license, to name a few. Your title proves to the dealership that you own the car and are legally authorized to transfer its ownership.

If you still have a loan on the vehicle you plan to trade in, bring those papers along too. Your new lender is going to want to know your car’s payoff amount before closing the deal.

4. Negotiate

As in most big purchases, be prepared to negotiate. Don’t simply accept the first offer. Your sales staff may just be testing the water.

If you follow these tips, you’ll arrive at the dealership with a good idea of what your car is worth. Set a number in your head and stick to it. If that means you have to leave your dream car on the lot for a couple of hundred bucks, you might be willing to close the gap. If not, head to another showroom for a browse around their lot.

Trading in your car is an excellent way to help purchase something new. When you do your homework upfront, you’ll arrive at the showroom confident that you can negotiate the best deal.

Image via Flickr by yonkershonda | CC BY-SA 2.0.