Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.

How to get the best trade-in deal for your car

Learn tips to get the most out of your car's trade-in value.

Car dealerships may have plenty of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to swaying a sale in their favour. But knowing how to set your trade-in apart from the rest can help you get the best trade-in value for your car. Comparing offers can help you save and lock in a good deal on your next ride too.

Who has the best trade-in value for cars?

People exchanging car keys at a dealershipOne of the best places to look for where to get top trade-in value for your vehicle is at a dealership you’ve worked with before. Having a positive history with a dealership can help make negotiating easier, and potentially lead to getting a better deal. Another good strategy is to look up dealership reviews on Google or sites like DealerRater.ca. You can use customer reviews to help find trustworthy dealers and salespeople in your area.

If you’re looking for brands that have the best retained value, consider getting a Toyota or Porsche, which are both winners of the Canadian Black Book’s 2020 “Best Retained Value” brand awards. Toyota took the prize in both the Cars and Truck &Crossover/SUV categories. Porsche won for the best luxury brand.

The 5 steps to getting you car’s best trade-in value at a dealership

Before you visit a dealership to trade your car for a new one, follow these 5 tips to ensure you maintain or enhance your car’s value to help you lock in the best trade-in deal you can.

1. Pay attention to the market

Market fluctuations influence how much a used car is worth at any given time. There are a few factors that influence this:

  • Time of year
  • Location
  • Popular models and brands
  • Gas prices

The type of car you’re looking to sell matters, too. A convertible won’t sell as well during the winter, and a truck won’t be worth as much when gas prices are high. Check used car comparison websites like the Canadian Black Book and autoTrader.ca to get an idea of what your car sells for in your area — knowing the current market will help you get a good deal.

When should you replace an old car?

2. Take care of your car before you sell

The simplest way to keep your car’s trade-in value high is to take good care of it while you’re the owner.

  • Have it serviced regularly. Book your car in for regular servicing on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. Make sure you record each service in the car’s logbook so you can provide it to the next buyer as proof the car has been well maintained.
  • Stay on top of repair and maintenance. If there’s a strange noise in the engine, get it looked at by a licensed mechanic. If you’re involved in an accident, get the car repaired as soon as possible. Regularly clean inside and out so it will still be in the best possible shape when you’re ready to sell.
  • Drive it like you own it. If you take care of your car when you own it, you’ll increase your chances of getting a better trade-in price. If you’re hard on your car, don’t expect a premium price from the dealer. Treat it right, and you’ll reap the benefits.

3. Fix major and minor issues

If there are some small issues with your car that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to fix, bring it to the mechanic. Investing a little now could get you a better trade-in value down the road. Fixing glaring issues — or even just buffing out minor dings — can increase your trade-in’s value.

4. Clean it before bringing it to the dealer

man washing his carDon’t visit a dealership without thinking about how your current car looks. If it’s scratched, been parked under a tree and hasn’t been washed in months, it’s hardly going to look like an attractive trade-in deal to the dealership.

With this in mind, get your car into the best possible shape before stepping up to the negotiating table.

  • Wash your car. First impressions count, so give your car a thorough wash to make sure it’s gleaming from every angle. A quick run through the automatic car wash isn’t enough, so you should either give it a good scrub yourself or visit a professional car detailer.
  • Clean the interior. It’s essential to give the inside of your vehicle a thorough clean. Wipe down every surface to remove stains and don’t forget to take out your personal items from the car before making a trip to the dealer.

With that said, don’t bring it in too clean. Having too clean a car can make it look like you’re hiding something and might actually get you a worse deal.

5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate for the best trade-in value at the dealership

This is the part where most people trip up. While you’re excited to get behind the wheel of your new car as soon as possible, the salesperson is a professional negotiator who will do whatever they can to get the best possible deal. Stand your ground and use the prices you researched as ammunition to increase the value of your trade-in and pay less on your next vehicle.

You may also want to shop around. Getting a quote from 2 or 3 dealerships can greatly increase your negotiating power, so be prepared to spend the day haggling. Once you settle on a dealership, you’ll be able to use the quotes from other dealers to try and get the best trade-in value for your car.

The 6 tips for negotiating with a dealership

A lot of people may find negotiating with a dealer uncomfortable or intimidating. If that’s you, don’t worry because you’re not alone. Just don’t let that stop you from trying to get the best trade-in value you can for you car. Remember that what may be an awkward conversation for you, is business as usual for the salesman. A big part part of their job is negotiating, and they expect people to haggle with them over prices.

You can keep these 6 tips in mind to help you negotiate the best trade-in value for your car from the dealership.

1. Do your research

Knowing how much your car is worth will give you power at the negotiating table. Services like the Canadian Black Book and autoTrader.ca 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 favour 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.

5 tips for negotiating with a clever car dealer

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. That method cuts down on the time and effort it might otherwise take to sell your car privately and it keeps everything in one place. But you won’t necessarily get the best trade-in value this way.

When should I trade in my car at a dealership?

You may want to trade in your car if:

  • You want a quick transaction at one dealership
  • The dealership offers to complete registration and paperwork
  • You don’t want to spend time advertising your car

Trading in may 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. It’s easier than paying it off yourself, but you risk going upside down on your new loan, too.

When should I sell my car privately?

You may want to sell privately if:

  • You want to get a better sale price for your car
  • You have time to list your car on multiple websites
  • You have an older car a dealership might not accept

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.

How to determine a car’s trade-in value

When you’re looking to get the best value for your trade in, keep these 3 factors in mind:

  • Read multiple pricing guides. There may be a big difference between 2 pricing guides. During negotiation, refer to the pricing guide that offers you the best deal — you can negotiate down from there.
  • Understand your car’s condition. A car in “good” condition may be worth much less than a car in “excellent” condition. If you’re not sure where yours sits on the spectrum, have it professionally appraised before visiting a dealership.
  • Check private party sales. Even if you decide to use your car as a trade in, knowing what your car’s value is to private buyers can help you determine if going the easy route is worth the potential loss in profit.

Our full guide to figuring out how much your car’s worth

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:

  1. Get a quotes from independent sources. Start with an online appraisal tool like the Canadian Black Book or autoTrader.ca. You also might want to consider taking your car to a professional for an appraisal — since they don’t have any skin in the game, you’ll likely get an accurate offer on your car.
  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.
  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 also might want to consider financing from your bank or credit union, which often offer rate discounts to current customers.

Our full guide to the ins and outs of trading in your car

Ready to trade-in you car but need financing for you new ride?

Compare these reputable Canadian car loan providers to find financing for your new car. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, click the green button to get started.

Name Product Loan Amount Interest Rate Loan Term Min. Credit Score Requirements Table description
Loans Canada Car Loans
$500 - $35,000
0% - 29.99%
3 - 96 months
300
Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
Compare rates from multiple lenders.
Complete a single application to get quotes from different lenders. Bad credit, CERB and EI borrowers considered.
goPeer Car Loan
$1,000 - $25,000
8.00% - 31.00%
36 - 60 months
600
Min. income of $40,000 /year
P2P platform with competitive rates.
Canada's first regulated consumer peer-to-peer lending platform that connects creditworthy Canadians looking for a loan with Canadians looking to invest.
AutoLoanProviders
$7,500 - $85,000
3.99% - 29.99%
12 - 96 months
300
Min. income of $1,800 /month, 1+ months employed
Available in Ontario only.
Apply online and get your new vehicle delivered to your door anywhere in Ontario free of charge. All credit scores considered.
CarsFast Car Loans
$500 - $75,000
4.90% - 29.90%
12 - 96 months
300
Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
Get a new or used vehicle delivered to your door.
Browse thousands of vehicles from dealers across Canada and get matched with financing that meets your needs.
Coast Capital Car Loan
$10,000 - No Max.
Varies
18 - 84 months
650
Able to service debt payment of $300/month
Competitive rates and flexible terms.
Finance new and used vehicles from one of Canada's largest credit unions. No credit union membership required. Available across Canada except SK, QC, NT, NU, YT.
Splash Auto Finance
$10,000 - $50,000
9.90% - 29.90%
24 - 84 months
300
Min. income of $2,200 /month, 3+ months employed
Apply with any credit score.
Get financing for a new or used car. Auto loans for borrowers with fair credit, bad credit, no credit or bankruptcy.
LoanConnect Car Loans
$500 - $50,000
9.90% - 46.96%
3 - 120 months
550
No min. income requirement
Pre-approval in as little as 60 seconds.
Get access to 25+ lenders through this brokerage. Get your funds in as little as 24 hours.
Canada Auto Finance
$500 - $45,000
4.90% - 29.95%
3 - 96 months
300
Min. income of $1,500 /month, 3+ months employed
Get financing from partnered local lenders.
Financing for a new or used car is available for borrowers with bad credit, no credit, CERB, EI or bankruptcy.
Carloans411 Car Loans
$500 - $50,000
1.90% - 19.99%
Up to 72 months
300
Min. income of $1,600 /month, 3+ months employed
High application approval rate.
Get connected with suitable lenders to finance your next car, van or truck. Check eligibility for this loan through LoanConnect.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

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

Photo: Getty Images

More guides on Finder

Go to site