What You Need to Know Before Trading in Your Car

If you are considering trading in your old car, you may be aware that a trade-in is different from a sale. It’s important to note that when trading in your old car, the dealership will most likely buy it for its wholesale price and then sell it to an individual at the retail price. This can take quite some time and cause additional inconveniences, such as driving back and forth from the dealership. Here are the things you need to know before trading in your car.

1. Research the Worth of Your Trade-in

The first question you will have to ask yourself is, “What is my car worth?”While you do not have to be a car expert to determine the worth of your car’s trade-in value, you should understand the aspects of your old car that will affect its price. The type of vehicle, mileage, damage, and condition are important factors affecting how much money you will receive for your trade-in. Research the current market before visiting a dealership to ensure that you get a good deal on your old car. There are plenty of online tools that can help you get a good understanding of your car’s current value.

2. Gather the Essential Documents

Before you go to the dealership, gather together all of the documents that will prove ownership of your car. You will want to bring your driver’s license, title, and proof of insurance to the dealership. For your vehicle to be on the road legally, you must have these documents and make sure they are current. If you have traded in multiple cars in the past, keep copies and receipts of these previous purchases. This can help them determine how much they will buy your car for.

3. Negotiate

While trading in a car is not always easy, getting a fair amount of money for your vehicle is possible. Be courteous to avoid any potential miscommunications when you are at the dealership. Explain to the salesperson that you want to sell your vehicle and hope they can find you an offer that matches your willingness to pay. Negotiating a good deal can take time, so be sure to have plenty of patience.

4. Shop Around for Quotes

While you may have already been to a few different dealerships, do not stop shopping for quotes. There are many options available for those who wish to sell their car. By visiting other locations, you can ensure that you will get the highest possible offer for your car. When you visit an additional dealership, ask what they offer on a trade-in and if it comes close to the price of a competing quote, try negotiating with them. This can help you get a better deal.

5. Fix the Exterior Dings and Dents

While not a necessary step, you may want to get your car fixed up before you trade it in. Doing so will allow you to get a better price for your car. Before you go to the dealership, take some time and fix the dents and dings in your car. This will help the salesperson determine how much they can sell it for. They know that if they resell it at retail, there will be no takers if visible damages are outside the vehicle. By getting the dents and dings fixed, you will be able to get a decent trade-in rate on your car.

6. Find Out If You Still Owe Money

Before you agree upon a price for your car, please find out how much you still owe on it. If you have not paid your loan in full or if there is a small balance left, the dealer will most likely deduct this from the trade-in offer. The amount they will deduct depends on the value of your car, but it can be anywhere from 1% to 10% of the car’s value. If you do not want to owe any money on your trade-in, you likely want to sell it at retail.


When you are ready to trade in your old car, make sure you are prepared to sell your vehicle for the highest possible price. Base your decision on which dealer to go with depending on the amount of money they offer for the car. Try to find a dealership that matches or exceeds an offer made by another location. Always look at the fine print before signing any documents and, if possible, have someone else review these documents as well before committing to anything.


Categorized as Automotive