Often, when people go to a car dealership to look at potential vehicles, trading in their current vehicle is an afterthought. This lack of preparation can cause you to be unhappily surprised at what you are offered for your trade-in vehicle and can make you walk away from a reasonable deal for your car. If you currently own a vehicle, you should mentally prepare for the process of trading it at a dealership before you even consider looking at new vehicles to purchase. Below are some basic ways to prepare yourself to trade in your current vehicle.
Research the Value of Your Car
You should start by thoroughly researching the value of your vehicle. There are several online calculators that will estimate the value of your vehicle. Some calculators are more specific than others and allow you to put in details about your car's current condition as well as the year, make, model, and mileage. It is a good idea to use several of these free calculators to get a true understanding of the range of your vehicle's value.
You should also keep in mind that many dealerships calculate a car's value at the lower end of the range rather than the higher end of the range, whereas with private sales, you can often price your vehicle near the higher end of the estimated value.
Figure Out If Your Vehicle Is Desirable in Your Area
A dealer is more likely to offer you a better trade-in deal for your vehicle if the vehicle is desirable in your area. You can find out if the vehicle is desirable in your area by listing it for sale through various websites and seeing how much interest it gets. Alternatively, you can look for cars similar to yours and check how long they have been listed for. If they have been listed for several weeks, then it is likely that your vehicle will be difficult to sell, which will lower its trade-in value.
Understand How Most Dealerships Calculate Trade-In Value
When you are trading in your vehicle, you should not think of it as if you are selling it because you will be paying for the convenience of trading it to a dealer. A dealer will often consider how much they can sell the vehicle for and then subtract the amount of money it will take to get the car prepared to be sold along with a slight profit and offer you that amount for your trade-in. This may be significantly lower than your estimated value if your car has considerable work to be done to be lot-ready. If you want to get the full value of your vehicle, you should consider a private sale, but you should also realize that a private sale will likely take much more time and effort than trading in your vehicle.
Be Realistic About the Condition of Your Car
When you are estimating the value of your vehicle, you should try to be as realistic as possible about its condition. Stains and tears in the interior as well as mechanical problems will reduce its value. You should consider having your car professionally cleaned before trading it in. It may be worthwhile to have minor repairs completed by your personal mechanic as well.
Try to Trade in Your Car When You Are Not Under Tight Time Constraints
Finally, to avoid feeling pressured while you are at a dealership, you should trade in your vehicle while you are not under tight time constraints. For example, do not attempt to trade in your vehicle just before you leave for vacation or when you desperately need a new car. Instead, do your research ahead of time and trade in your vehicle when you are in a position of power.