How to Get the Most for Your Trade In

October 8th, 2016 by
used car trade in value

Follow these simple tips to get the most out of your used car when trading it in at a dealership


If you’re ready to purchase a used car and want to trade in your current vehicle, you’ve got some important homework to do. There are lots of things you can do to make sure you get the most for your trade.

One of the most important things you can do is make sure you car is super-clean. If it looks terrible, chances are good you won’t get nearly as much as you will if it looks fantastic. Take a couple of hours and put some real elbow grease into it, both inside and out. Pay close attention to all those visible areas inside the car that tend to accumulate dirt and grime and make them look as new as you can.

Did you save records that show the maintenance and service history for your vehicle? If not, can you contact the places where you had it serviced and get those records printed? Any documentation that shows how well you took care of the car will be very helpful and appreciated by the dealer.

Other items to make sure you have with you for an appraisal of your vehicle include the following: The second set of keys (important but often overlooked detail), vehicle title, paperwork showing what is still owed if it’s not paid off, your driver’s license and registration.

Get a feel for what dealers have been offering for cars like yours as trade-ins. You can do this at all the major car websites, including Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, and so on. Not every dealership goes by the trade-in values listed by these sites. Still, it’s important for you to have an idea of the value of your car as a trade-in before heading into a dealership to get it appraised.

Another way to make sure you get the most for your trade is to take it to multiple dealerships, getting a written offer from each one. When you do this, be careful not to mention what you still owe on your car. At many dealerships, as soon as they know what you still owe, that’s all they want to offer you on the trade. If you don’t mention it, then the offer you get will be what the dealership really thinks your car is worth. Not every dealership will want to take the time to do this, but many will, and it offers you invaluable information about your vehicle’s value.

If you’re shopping for a used car at a dealership that doesn’t operate on a firm price model (meaning you do have to negotiate the price), focus on negotiating the price of the car that interests you without even mentioning you want to trade in your current vehicle. Keeping the purchase and the trade separate gives you a better chance of getting great deals on each one. When you do eventually find out what the offer is for your trade, if you don’t like it you can always take it elsewhere or sell it privately yourself if you don’t mind the effort involved.

If you are thinking about trading in your car, Auto City is a great place to do so. Not only we have 100s of the highest quality used cars for sale, we always quote very competitive and transparent trade in values. We will even show you all the research that goes into determining your vehicle’s value and how we came up with our offer! Tell us about your car to get a quick and transparent appraisal. We will even buy your used car if you do not buy one of ours!

Another option is to try Driveo. Driveo is our partner company that appraises and buys used cars in San Diego. Sell your car with Driveo or find out what it is worth when trading your car in – it is easy, quick and free!