A lot of consumers trade in their old vehicle when buying their next. After all, they'll likely have little use for the older car, and any equity can be applied toward the cost of the new car. These tips can help guide you through the trade-in process so you can avoid potential mistakes.

Have a Realistic Idea of Your Trade-In's Value

budgeting, computer researchThere's no way of knowing how much you can get for your vehicle until it's appraised by a dealer, but you should get an idea before you think about heading to one. Doing some research online to estimate the value of your trade-in will help you find out if the offers you receive are competitive. There are many online tools that can help you out, such as Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Edmunds. All you have to do is enter your car's information and these tools can give you values to work with.

It's only natural to be sentimentally attached to a vehicle you've counted on for a long time. Therefore, it can be easy to get the wrong idea about the value of your trade-in. Remember to be accurate about your car's trim level and options, and to not overstate its condition level so you get a realistic idea of what it may be worth.

You should also know what you're seeing online doesn't always translate to what a dealer is willing to offer. Dealerships have to consider a lot of factors when making trade-in offers, such as the cost of fixing it up and their current inventory.

Find Balance When Cleaning and Fixing it Up

When preparing to trade in a car, the leading authorities are split on how much you should clean and fix it up before taking it to the dealership. On one hand, you want to make a good impression by bringing in a vehicle that looks sparkling clean and needs little work. On the other, you could be wasting money if your efforts do little to improve its value.

The truth of the matter is that dealers can almost always fix up vehicles for less than you can. We'd recommend that you make an effort to improve your trade-in's condition level, but do so without spending a lot of money. Clean up the inside, vacuum, and get it washed, but don't worry about getting it detailed or paying for big mechanical fixes.

Get Offers from Different Dealerships

In addition to researching online beforehand, the best way to find out if you're getting fair offers for your vehicle is to get multiple quotes. If you take your vehicle in for an appraisal, you should be able to get an offer in writing that's good for at least a week, so it might be worth visiting multiple dealers. Besides, the price you're offered can vary widely from dealer to dealer because of all the variables involved.

A good rule of thumb is to get an offer from at least three dealerships. Make sure one of them is the same brand as the vehicle you're trading in, and don’t forget to bring any maintenance records you have.

The Bottom Line

With a little preparation and hustle, trading in your old car doesn't have to be a complicated process. When you're ready to buy your next car, Auto Credit Express can help you find a dealership even if you have bad credit.

We're teamed up with a national network of special finance dealerships that are capable of helping consumers in unique credit situations. We'll work to connect you with one if you begin the process by filling out our free and secure car loan request form.