8 things to do before trading in your car

If you’re getting ready to sell your house, there are several TV shows that give advice on making your home more appealing to potential buyers. Your trade in can benefit from the same concept. The more desirable your trade in looks to the dealer, the better the offer you’ll get.

8. In real estate, the experts all recommend removing personal photographs hanging from the walls, so potential buyers can envision their family living in your home. The same concept applies here. Bumper stickers and magnets are a fun way to express yourself, but they do nothing to enhance your car at trade in time. I don’t blame you for being proud of your honor student, wanting to cure autism, or being a fan of your favorite football team. But since you’re trying to get rid of the car anyway, keeping those stickers and magnets on the car makes no sense. Remove them before you head out to the dealership.

7. On a similar note, take your personal belongings that you don’t need out of the car. A glove box full of mustard packets or a console full of napkins and crayons won’t improve the value of your trade in. You want to present the dealer with a car that is as clutter free as possible.

6. Be honest about any mechanical problems your car has. If the dealer has a car with defects, you’d want to know that. Don’t you think the dealer would be interested in knowing the existing problems in your car? If your problems are of a simple, inexpensive nature, it may be beneficial to fix them before trading the car in. Yes, you’ll have to take money out of your pocket, but you’ll probably get that much more for the car when he appraises the value of your trade in. When a dealer sees a mechanical problem in your car, he has to estimate how much it will cost to repair it, and they usually estimate the cost on the high end.

5. Does your car stink? I don’t mean you dislike it, I mean does it emit a foul odor? If one of your kids got car sick, or your prize poodle had an accident on the back seat, double check and be sure that it was cleaned up properly. A little Fabreeze can go a long way just to be sure.

4. Have you maintained your car properly? If you have the service records for your car, bring them with you. It shows the dealer proof that you’ve given it the TLC you claim.

3. Utilize the power of the vacuum. A car can have a great looking exterior, and run like new, but if the carpets are loaded with dirt, mud, and discarded french fries, it doesn’t help you at trade in time. Clean it up and make a good first impression.

2. Since we’re already using the vacuum, don’t forget the trunk. A dealer I worked for used to open the trunk of every car he appraised. He told me that you could tell how well a car was maintained by the cleanliness of the trunk. This is one instance where you don’t want junk in the trunk.

And the most important thing to do is

1. Wash your car. I can’t stress this one enough. When you walk into a dealership, you naturally expect to see a selection clean cars to choose from. Why would you show the dealer anything less. If your car is particularly filthy, you may want to spend the extra money and get a full detailing, but in most cases, a good trip through the car wash will suffice.

Keep in mind that when a dealer looks at your trade in, he is placing a value on it as if he were buying it outright. The dealer takes into consideration the time and money he will spend in making your car retail ready, so he can place it for sale and try to make a profit. The more time and money he has to invest in your trade in, the less money he can give you for the trade.

3 thoughts on “8 things to do before trading in your car

  1. The actual woaleshle value placed on the car by the dealer (they will almost NEVER tell you this number) will be within pocket change regardless of what dealership you go to. What really matters is your negotiating skills vs the sales staff’s skills. (They will win most of the time unless you are an experienced negotiator in your own right.) The next factor will be how much “wiggle room” exists in the vehicle that you are buying. If you are looking at a new compact at a Chrysler dealer and a new mid-sized Ford there will be more bargaining room at the Ford house so it may appear that they are offering you more on your trade. They really are not, they’re just shifting the numbers around to make it appear that way.The best way to buy a new car is to sell your old one privately for cash. You’ll ALWAYS get more money on a private sale than a dealer will allow woaleshle on a trade. If you insist on trading in, say for convenience sake, bargain on the new vehicle as if you were a cash buyer who is NOT trading in a car. Once you have a firm deal signed by management, bring up your trade. Don’t let them mess with the selling price on the new car after that point. What they are offering you on your trade is something close to the true woaleshle value. That number should be very close no matter what dealership you are at.Watch out for one trick that I’ve seen a lot of lately. Dealers will show you the Black Book woaleshle price and claim that that’s all that it’s worth. What they are showing you however is the pricing for vehicle AUCTIONS. Auction pricing is always less than woaleshle because the buyers are not permitted to do much more than look over the cars and listen to the engine running. They can’t drive them or put them on a lift for a close evaluation. Insist that they use the NADA woaleshle dealer guide pricing which will always be higher. That’s fair because they have had a chance to carefully inspect your car, unlike when they buy at auction.

    • Heres how it works:Your Durango is worth $ 4k, you owe $ 7k and the price of the new car is $ 12k $ 12000 price $ 4000 trade value = $ 8000 + tax on $ 8000 (say $ 560 for 7% sales tax) + dmv and title fees (roughly $ 250) + $ 7000 for your old loan = $ 15810 that is your total amount ficnaned on the new caryou old loan is gone, but you have a new loan that includes what you owed on the old one. Usually when you do this they require a fair amount of cash down because the bank is loaning you almost 16k for a car thats probably worth no more than 10k wholesale

  2. These are all really helpful tips. I especially agree with full disclosure of the problems the car has. While it may seem counter intuitive when trying to sell a car, it could just mean more hassles along the way if you try to hide things

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