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Increase Trade-In Value on Your Car with Useful Tips

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Increase Trade-In Value for car tax credits

Want salesmen to be handing you wads of cash for your used vehicle? While that might not likely happen, these helpful tips could increase the offer you’ll get.
Photo: Tax Credits

With the new 2015 models rolling onto the lots, chances are you’ve got your eye on a hot new set of wheels at your local dealership. You’ve been driving the same vehicle for years and are ready for a change. It has some wear and tear–character, you’d prefer to call it. Sure you could sell it to a private seller, but mortally damaging two fowl with one pebble is tempting. That’d sure save you some hassle. If only you could get the same amount of money for trading in your old car to that tight-fisted sales associate at the dealership.

Take this advice on ways to increase trade-in value and it might be worth your while.

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Six Ways to Increase Trade-In Value

1. Getting It Running Smoothly

Dumping a handful of Benjamins on a car you’ll turn around and get rid of might not seem like a wise investment. But, if there’s any quick-fix repairs you’ve been neglecting to do, consider them. They might be enough to bump a “poor” condition car to a “fair” condition one. Discuss any possible repairs with a trusted mechanic. Basically, if it’s enough to help the car run smoothly when it’s appraised, do it.

2. Image Can Cost You

Like maintenance, popping out the dings, dents, and rust on your car could up your value level a rank or two. Cleaning up will  at least improve the first impression your old car gives when it pulls into the dealership’s appraisal center. These days, you can invest in your own dent removal kit, paint, and car repairs and do them yourself to increase trade-in value.

3. Get Your Papers in Line

Titles and registration aren’t the only documents those purchasing your car think about. If you want to show evaluators that you’ve taken proper care of your vehicle, prove it with a folder full of engine work, fluid replacement, tire changes, and any other maintenance documentation.  If you didn’t hold onto them, check your online bank statements, write dates/actions in your owner’s manual, and ask the shops where you took the car. Anything is better than nothing.

Increase Trade-In Value for car Bob Villalobos

A bit of minor repairs under the hood of your old car could bump up its value.
Photo: Bob Villalobos

4. Keep the Old Car Off the Table

Salesmen know that if you’re trading in a car, they’ll have to make up for the financial loss by upping your price on the new vehicle. Negotiate the new model separately until you agree on a final price before bringing a trade into the picture. If you’re asked about it, say you’re not sure and it’s not important yet. It could be enough to increase trade-in value during negotiations.

If you owe more on your current car than it’s worth, look elsewhere to finance your final deal. Otherwise, the dealer may try to take your negative equity and apply it to your new loan.

5. Be Prepared Before You Talk Numbers

Get your car evaluated by a trusted valuation source (like Black Book) and bring along the printed result. Bring a couple different sources’ results to make sure you have a solid idea what your current car is worth. Don’t overestimate though– even if your car is worth a certain amount, factors like local demand (an SUV in an eco-focused area) might lower the offering price. If you’re unsure, you can contact a professional appraiser for a full, official inspection.

6. Don’t Just Take The First Offer

To increase trade-in value, ask around at other dealerships before deciding on an agreed trade-in amount. If the difference is significant enough, it might be worth doing business elsewhere.

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