If you want to get the most bang for your buck at trade-in time, follow these tips to help get your car resale ready. We've got your inside scoop on increasing the value of your trade-in.

Tips for Increasing Trade-In Value

The main thing to know is that vehicle valuation isn't an exact science. The money you're offered for your car is likely to vary between dealerships, and may not match the estimates you see online when you're preparing for the trade-in process.

To better understand how trade-ins work, here’s a quick explanation:

Actual cash value, or ACV, is the amount that you can get for your vehicle from a dealer. It can vary from the estimated value you find when looking online because it's ultimately up to the dealership as to what they offer you.

If you have negative equity, or aren't getting offers that you think are high enough, consider waiting until you've paid down your existing auto loan. Or, you could try selling your car yourself for a higher price.

To find out what's worth the work and what isn’t when it comes to boosting your trade-in offer, we've pulled together a few tips to get you started:

  • Increasing the Value of Your Trade-InClean your vehicle thoroughly, inside and out, but skip the cost of getting it detailed, as it's not likely to increase the value of the car.
  • Make minor repairs, though, such as burnt-out bulbs and buffing out minor scratches. A better overall outside appearance may increase the money you're offered. Skip the high-priced repairs your ride may need – it's cheaper for the dealer to fix them.
  • Check your equity. Do you still owe money on the vehicle you're trading in? If so, it's a good idea to get a 10-day payoff amount from your lender and use online valuation sites such as Kelley Blue Book, NADAguides, or Black Book to find out how much your car could be worth. This way, you can estimate how much you might make after your loan is paid off.
  • Give yourself options. There's no rule that you have to trade in your vehicle to the first place that appraises it. In fact, it's recommended that you visit at least three dealerships before you settle on the trade. Most dealers who appraise your car give you a trade-in value that's good for about a week or two. This gives you the opportunity to take your vehicle to a few dealerships so you can go with the sale that makes the most sense for you.
  • Franchised dealers may offer you more. If you're concerned about getting top dollar for your trade-in, you may want to stick to some of the larger, franchised dealerships that are signed up with one or more manufacturers, specifically seeking out at least one dealer for your make. They may be able to offer you a bit more for your car than an independent dealership can.

Ready to Trade Up to a Better Car?

Even using all the tips and tricks in the book, you may not be able to increase the value of your vehicle too much. Cars are depreciating assets, which means they lose value over time with use. Getting the most for your money often means finding the right dealer to take your trade-in to.

You don't have to trade in your vehicle to the same dealership you're buying from, but it can streamline the process. Plus, if you don't have equity in your car, a lender may be able to offer you a chance at rolling over your negative equity to get you into a vehicle. Be careful doing this, though, as it may end up costing you more than you bargained for in the long run.

If you're wondering where to get the trade-in process started, but worry that your credit score is standing in your way, we're here to lend you a helping hand. Auto Credit Express has been matching consumers to local dealers that are signed up with subprime lenders for over 20 years.

Let us help you down the path toward your next car. Simply fill out our fast, easy, and free auto loan request form to get started today!