How to Get a Fair Trade-In Price When Buying a Car

Audi RS6

Buying a car can be a daunting experience. There’s so much to think about when choosing a vehicle, and on top of it, sales pressure at a dealership can make it difficult to stay focused on getting the right deal. One other issue you may not think about so much is getting a good trade-in price on your old car. It often seems easier to just accept the figure the dealer suggests rather than hold up the sale.

This is a mistake. Dealers know they have the upper hand in this part of the deal, and they’ll usually try to buy cheap from you to bump up their profit. However, your current car is an asset which you should make the most of, whatever the condition it is in. What can you do to get a fair price?

Before you even think about walking into a dealership, you should do a little research to find out the market rate for your old car. First, take an honest look at its condition. You may think it’s in excellent shape, but few vehicles really match up to this ideal. Even small defects can reduce the status to “good” or “clean”. So it’s best to use one of these descriptions when calculating a fair price. Also, take note of your car’s mileage, as this figure can greatly affect the value.

Know Where You Stand

Next, check some of the classifieds websites as if you were a buyer, and get a feel for what kind of price cars like yours are selling for. Also, use services like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds to get a ballpark figure that the dealer will probably be starting from too. You may be disappointed at the quoted value, but it’s better to be ready in advance so that you’re not disappointed badly if dealer prices your vehicle lower than you expected.

Check the Market

However, a simple valuation isn’t the whole story. A dealer will only be willing to pay a sensible price if they can resell the car reasonably quickly. Is the market flooded with cars like yours, often at discount rates? This may mean you’ll have to accept a lower price than the one quoted on the valuation services, as prospective buyers will have plenty of other options available.

Put a Service History Together

A dealer won’t want to take your car if you can’t prove it’s been properly looked after – unexpected repair bills are just as unwelcome for a dealer as they are for a private buyer. If you can show that your car has been well maintained, you’ll have a lot more bargaining power. So make sure you have all your service and repair documents organized together as a proof.

First Impressions

It’s not only customers for whom first impressions are important – professional dealers will change their starting price based on how your car looks, as well. Check your vehicle for any minor scratches or dents, and have them fixed if this can be done at a reasonable cost.

Also, make sure that all the lights are working properly, both inside and out. Further, check all other electrical parts such as air conditioning and media system are running properly. Lastly, invest in a full detail for your car. This may cost a few extra dollars, but it can boost the value several times.

Separate the Transactions

Getting a fair deal on your trade-in is only one part of the car-buying process. Once you start bargaining over the price of the new vehicle, deciding on any upgrades and extras, and maybe arranging a finance package, things can get very complicated very quickly.

Avoid becoming overwhelmed by insisting that you agree with a trade-in price before starting on anything else. You may still be able to improve on the figure as part of later negotiations, but make sure you’re happy before going any further.

Lastly, don’t forget that a trade-in isn’t your only option for disposing of your old car. If you’re not happy with the price you’re offered, then don’t be afraid to walk away and try another dealer. You could even consider selling privately – this may not be as convenient or as quick, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a better deal.

If you’ve set your heart on a new car, it’s easy to overlook the trade-in details with your enthusiasm to seal the deal. However, car dealers know this, and they’ll not hesitate to pay as little as they can for your asset. Being prepared and standing your ground will make sure you’re satisfied with the deal.

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