Calculating your car's trade-in value can be tricky because there's no way to know what a dealer may offer you. Instead of stressing over your vehicle's actual cash value (ACV), start by getting an estimate right from home.

Finding Your Car's Estimated Value

Calculating Your Vehicle's Trade-In ValueSince a car’s ACV relies on a dealership appraisal, you can't calculate its true trade-in value on your own. Your first step should be to head online to check out a number of vehicle valuation sites, such as Kelley Blue Book, NADAguides, and Black Book. Each of these sites can give you an estimated value for your car based on the information you input into the site.

When you're starting there, it's important to be honest when answering questions about your vehicle's condition. If you're not, your estimate may not be very accurate, and it could leave you expecting more than you're going to get. Typically, you're asked to answer questions about your car including the year, make, model, color, trim level, optional features, condition, and mileage.

Remember that this is just a jumping-off point for negotiating a price with the dealer. Print out the estimate you get online to bring with you to the dealership. They could offer you something very different than your estimate, but the decision about where you trade in your vehicle and how much money you accept for it is up to you.

Getting the Most for Your Vehicle Trade-In

Now that you know what your car could be worth, it's time to give it a good shine, and make it worth as much as you can. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your trade-in:

  • Clean your vehicle inside and out. It might not hurt to splurge on a detail if you don't have the time or patience to make your car sparkle.
  • Repair minor damage. Buff out scratches and pop out small dents, but don't sink a ton of money into major repairs. You're likely to spend more, and the fixes may not get you enough extra cash to be worth your while.
  • Shop around. Trade-in offers are typically good for about a week. We recommend taking your vehicle to at least three different dealers, and make sure at least one is a franchised dealership for your brand. This gives you the power to pick your price and who you want to work with.

Finding a Dealership to Work With

Once you've given your car the old spit and polish, be sure that you're in a position to get a reliable, affordable vehicle despite your credit score. In some cases, if you're struggling with your credit, having a trade-in to put toward a down payment can make the difference in an approval.

If you need to find a special finance dealer, but don't know where to start, we can help. Here at Auto Credit Express, we work with a nationwide network of dealerships that are teamed up with lenders that know how to assist people in unique credit situations such as bad credit, no credit, and even bankruptcy.

Stop hesitating if you need another car, and let us take the hassle out of finding a local dealer. Simply fill out our quick, free, and easy auto loan request form to get the process started right now.