Negotiating the Best Trade-In Value for Your Car

Negotiating doesn’t come easy to most people, but doing research and knowing how to play the game can make it that much easier for you to score a good deal on your trade-in.
Negotiating the Best Trade-In Value for Your Car

So you’ve realized it’s time to buy a new car, but you’re not sure what to do with your current one. You have the option of selling it yourself or trading it in at the dealership. Generally, you can get more for your old car when you decide to sell it privately, but it is more time consuming. If you are in a time crunch and you need a new vehicle now, trading it in may be your best bet.

Unfortunately, there are some down falls here, too. Salesmen have experience in getting the best value for your trade-in, and they can make a big profit from a vehicle – don’t let your trade-in go for the lowest price. Educate yourself on your vehicle, and learn some negotiating techniques to get the odds back in your favor.

Do Your Research

There are many websites that you can use to get the true market value of your used car. These sites include Kelley Blue Book and National Automobile Dealers Association and they take into account:

  • How many miles are on the engine
  • Which features your car has
  • What kind of shape your car is in
  • The demand for your make and model

These sites will give you an estimate of what you could get if you privately sold your car as well as what a dealer would offer you. You should never settle for less than these amounts, unless you have under-exaggerated the above criterion of your vehicle.

Once you have done your online research you should take the car to a few local used car dealerships to see what they are selling similar cars for. You can also ask these dealers to evaluate your car and see what they would offer you for it. This will give you a good idea of what the low ball price is and where the high-end price is. When you walk into a dealership, and they ask you what you would take for the car, start with the high-end price and negotiate down from there. You should be able to meet somewhere in the middle without getting low-balled into a bad deal.

Is It the Right Time to Trade Your Car In?

As the age-old saying goes – timing is everything. This is especially true when it comes time to sell or trade-in your current car, truck, or SUV. If you choose to sell your car at the wrong time of the year, you could lose out on hundreds of dollars of profit. For example, if you have a two-door Ford Mustang convertible trying to turn that in at the dealership in November is not the best choice. People are not coming in to dealerships looking to buy a convertible in the winter time so dealers will likely not want to give you what you deserve for it. As far as they are concerned it’s only going to be taking up space on their show floor until spring, and that is valuable money they are losing out on.

When the time is approaching to sell your car, keep up with the trends of gas prices. If you have a large SUV that is not very fuel efficient, it will be more beneficial to you to trade in the vehicle at a time when gas prices have dropped. On the same hand, selling a compact car or hybrid vehicle that has great gas mileage could make you a pretty penny when gas prices are at their peak.

Give Your Vehicle a Quick Make-Over

While it shouldn’t be, looks are important when picking out a new car for yourself. Everyone wants a vehicle that is going to turn heads and that they will be proud to be seen in. Before taking your car to the dealership to be appraised give it a quick make-over to help it sell better. Clean, vacuum, and wipe down the inside. Make sure you get all the stains out of the seats and carpet, and all of your kids’ sticky apple juice off of the door handle. When working on the outside, don’t forget to wash the wheels and make them shine along with the rest of the body – everyone likes shiny things, right?

While you’re cleaning the outside, get a routine maintenance check done. Make sure that: the oil is changed, the filters are all clean, the coolant is full, and the tires are rotated and have the correct air pressure in them. Keep record of this. This will make the car more attractive to the dealership, as well as a potential buyer, because it will mean less work that they need to do upon purchase.

Negotiate Separately

Dealerships love to convince you to spend extra money so they can make a profit on it, and they can do that by giving you less than what you deserve on your trade-in. This is why you should always negotiate your new car purchase separately from your trade-in, and always start with the latter first. If you start negotiating your auto loan or lease term before you tell them about your trade they will know the lowest amount of money they can offer you to still keep you within your monthly budget.

Also, if you know you have a car that is popular and desirable by consumers you may be able to get a better price on it. Dealers want to turn inventory as quickly as possible, so if they can get a popular make and model in, sell it within a couple days and turn a profit, they will go for it.

Know How to Play the Game

Car salesmen have the reputation to be some of the most assertive people out there, and they know how to play the game very well. The first thing you should do is to start with letting them know that you have done your research. If they are aware that you know exactly what your car is worth – and you won’t take a penny less – you are more likely to get a good deal.

One of the oldest tricks in the books that they use is to take your car keys so they can have their “people” evaluate your car. When you surrender your keys over to them you are putting the power in their hands. Tell them you prefer to keep your keys with you until an agreement has been made. This way you still hold the power to walk away at any time if you don’t like what they have to say.

As We See It

Negotiation is not something that comes easily to a lot of people, and walking into a car dealership without a clue of what is going on can be extremely intimidating. By researching your vehicle and knowing what it’s worth you hold the power over the salesmen and you will have the information to know a bad deal from a good one.

Some people believe that only customers with good credit can get a good deal on a new car loan with a trade-in, but the fact is, consumers with bad credit have the same opportunity. Actually, if you have less than perfect credit and you’re looking to get a bad credit auto loan with a trade-in your chances of approval are very high. Stay two steps ahead of the negotiation game by doing your research and getting a pre-approval from Auto Credit Express.

Posted on October 24, 2013 by in New Cars
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