Seattle-based car dealerships are well aware of the ins and outs of the trade in process. Each dealer has their own trade-in requirements that vehicles need to meet, and you have to make sure yours qualifies. Keep reading to learn more about trading in your car in Seattle, and what to do if it’s worth less than what you owe on the loan.

How to Trade in Your Car in Seattle

Trading in a Car in SeattleRegardless of your credit situation, you need to know how to trade in your vehicle, and what you should do to prepare for the process in The Emerald City. There are three crucial steps you need to take if you want to get the most for your trade-in:

1) The first thing you need to do is clean and fix up your car. We don’t mean getting it detailed and having major repairs done – just clean it inside and out, make sure it’s up to date on basic maintenance, and have any minor issued fixed before you head to a dealership. If you’re not sure if a problem is worth fixing, a good rule of thumb is that if the repair costs more than the vehicle’s value, it’s not worth having it fixed.

2) The second thing to do is determine your car’s actual cash value (ACV). Visiting vehicle valuation sites such as NADAguides can give you an estimate of what your car could be worth. Make the estimate as close as you can by plugging in accurate information about its current condition.

3) Then, last but not least, you need to get it appraised by at least two dealers, and make sure one sells the make of your vehicle. Appraisals give you an exact figure to work with. While you should negotiate if there's a big difference between what dealerships are offering and what online guides suggest, each dealer is going to tell you how much your trade-in is worth to them. You can decide from there if you want to take one of the offers you got, or keep searching for a better deal.

What if My Car Has Negative Equity?

Negative equity – also called being upside down – is when your auto loan balance is more than your vehicle’s ACV. Most Seattleites experience negative equity at some point if they finance a car, and it can complicate the trade in process.

If you find that your trade-in is worth less than what you owe, you have three options:

  1. Wait – If you don’t need a new vehicle right now, the best option is to wait to finance another car until you have equity.
  2. Pay the difference – If you can’t wait and you have the cash to pay the difference between the loan balance and the vehicle's ACV, you can cover it upfront when taking out your next loan.
  3. Roll it over – This isn’t offered by all lenders in Seattle or in certain cases depending on your situation, but it may be possible to roll the negative equity into the new loan. Be aware that this doesn’t eliminate negative equity – it adds it to your new loan. This makes the loan more expensive and could make it tough to handle the increased financial burden.

Find a Dealer to Work with in Seattle

If you’re looking to finance your next car and trade in your current one but worry your credit is holding you back, we want to help. Auto Credit Express has been matching consumers to local dealerships that are special finance experts for over 20 years. We can help you if you live in Seattle, or anywhere else in the state of Washington or the rest of the country.

All you need to do to get the process started is complete our simple and free auto loan request form. From there, we'll get right to work connecting you with a Seattle dealer near you!