Get the most out of your car’s value.
How to get the best trade-in price at a dealership
Before you visit a dealership to trade your car for a new one, start taking steps to ensure you maintain or enhance your car’s value.
6 tips for negotiating with a dealership
Keep the following tips in mind to ensure that you get the best trade-in deal.
1. Do your research
Knowing how much your car is worth will give you power at the negotiating table. Services like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds can help you gauge your vehicle’s approximate value. You can also look at private sale prices for your make and model, but keep in mind that trade-in values are usually lower than private sales.
2. Know common tactics
Dealerships are experts when it comes to buying and selling cars, so familiarize yourself with some of the more common negotiating tactics they use. For example, don’t be surprised if the dealership claims your car won’t be easy to sell or that it’s doing you a favor by taking it off your hands — these tricks are designed to maximize the dealership’s profit, not yours.
3. Use your own negotiating skills
Don’t bring your trade-in to the table until the end. Negotiate the sale price of the new car separately to the trade-in. Once you’ve reached a reasonable purchase price for your new vehicle, tell the salesperson that you’d also like to trade in your current car and that the right price will seal the deal.
4. Shop around
Don’t be afraid to shop around for a better trade-in deal. You might be surprised just how much more you can get from a different dealership, so look elsewhere if you’re not happy with the price you’re offered.
5. Focus on the changeover price
Remember that the trade-in price for your vehicle doesn’t mean you got a good deal. Look at the changeover price for your new car – that is, the purchase price of your new car minus the trade-in price of your old car. While one dealership may offer the best trade-in price, if its price for a new car is more expensive, then it may not have the best overall deal.
6. Go at the end of the month
Dealerships are often more likely to offer a better deal when the month is dragging to an end. That’s often when they’re trying to get old cars out of the lot to make room for newer models.
How to trade in a used car in 3 steps
Follow these steps to swap your current car for a new (or used) vehicle at a dealership.
Step 1: Get a quotes from independent sources
Go into the dealership with an idea the trade-in value. Start with an online appraisal tool like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds. These sites can tell you the general value of your car and help you avoid being hugely ripped off.
You also might want to consider taking our car to a for an appraisal at a place like CarMax or a dealership that doesn’t sell the brand of car you already have. Since they don’t have any skin in the game, you’ll likely get an accurate offer on the car you actually have.
Step 2: Compare offers
Knowing how much you can get for your car, stop by a few dealerships to compare what they’re willing to offer. Don’t agree to the first offer — there could be a better dealership out there. Use offers you get with other lenders as leverage to negotiate the price down.
Step 3: Compare financing
One you’ve made a decision on a deal, look into all of your financing offers — what the dealership has might not be the best deal. You can get started by comparing providers in the table below. You also might want to consider financing from your bank or credit union, which often offer rate discounts to current customers.
Ready to trade-in but need financing? Compare these car loans
Is trading in my car worth it?
Trading in your car might be worth it if you don’t have the time to find a private buyer and are comfortable negotiating with a dealer. It cuts down on the time and effort it might otherwise take to sell your car and it keeps everything in one place. But you won’t necessarily get the best deal this way.
My car loan is upside down. Should I trade in?
Trading in might also be the easiest option if you’re upside down on your car loan. With a trade-in, you can often roll the balance of your old car loan into a new one if you still owe money after the deal. It’s easier than paying it off yourself, though you risk going underwater on your new loan too.
Should I sell my car privately?
Trading your car in is typically a quick and convenient option that can allow you to negotiate a better sale price on your next car. But you’re more likely to secure a better price if you sell privately, giving you more buying power when searching for your next set of wheels. However, securing a private sale can be a lot of hard work.
If you want to get on the road without a headache, then a trade-in will be the better choice. If you have time to search for buyers and list your car, you can earn more by making a private sale. It’s all about choosing the avenue that works best for your situation.
Trading in your old vehicle can help you afford a new one. But it can be a time-consuming process, and it certainly won’t be all you need to finance your next set of wheels. Read our guide to car loans to see what kind of rates you may be eligible for.
Frequently asked questions
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