From that unmistakable new-car smell to slipping into the driver's seat for the first time, driving a newly purchased car is one of life's true pleasures. But as much as we love enjoying the bells and whistles on our brand-new rides, few of us relish the buying and selling process that leads up to driving your next car off the lot.
Upgrading to something new will likely entail maximizing the trade-in value of your old car or truck. Getting the best price on your trade-in requires some pre-work and planning, such as understanding how dealerships make you an offer, and more.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF TRADING IN MY CAR?
While trading in your car may not net you the same amount of cash as a private sale, many people find it to be easier. Selling your car on your own can be a hassle, from advertising to keeping track of inquiries and waiting for the right buyer to come along.
Trading in your car enables you to put the value of your old vehicle toward the purchase of a new car or truck. With a trade-in, it's quite likely you'll pull into the dealership in your old car and drive away in your new ride.
HOW DO DEALERSHIPS DETERMINE TRADE-IN VALUE?
New cars have a standard retail price that comes from the manufacturer. Direct from the factory floor, each new vehicle has an odometer with no miles, tires that have no wear, and pristine interiors.
Conversely, used cars are assessed across a complex set of factors that can vary widely, including the odometer reading, physical condition of the vehicle, tire wear, onboard features, accident history, and the desirability of the make and model.
Besides these factors, dealerships must also gauge the time and expense required to get your car ready for the lot, plus estimate what they can get for reselling your vehicle.
HOW CAN I GET THE MOST FOR MY TRADE-IN?
While there's no easy solution for getting the highest offer possible for your trade-in, there are a few steps you can take to possibly push that offer a bit higher.
1. Consider the Time of Year
Auto manufacturers typically release new models toward the end of the year or early in the new year. Hence, dealerships need to make room on their lots for the new inventory. Not only can this net you a good deal on a car they're eager to move, they'll likely offer you a good trade-in amount so they can close a sale. Understanding the ebbs and flows of vehicles and what motivates dealerships will put you in a better negotiating position to score a good deal on your trade-in.
2. Take Care of Minor Repairs and Maintenance
Before trading in your car, give it a thorough cleaning and fix any minor issues—inside and out. These efforts can increase the curb appeal of your vehicle and potentially net you more on a trade-in offer. Also, doing regular maintenance and repair over the life of your vehicle will pay dividends once you’re ready to trade it in.
3. Do Your Research
Before going to the dealership, do your own research. Be sure to visit reputable online resources like Edumunds and Kelley Blue Book. These sites are very handy for calculating the approximate value of your vehicle based on its make, model, mileage, and condition. so you can be ready when you go to the dealership.
4. Shop Around
If you're truly motivated to get the best trade-in value possible, visit several dealerships to get offers for your vehicle. Not only can multiple offers help narrow the choices of where you'd like to purchase your next car or truck, you'll have some bargaining power for the other dealerships who made you an offer.