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Choices That Will Cost You Money on Your Trade-In

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People tend to overvalue the things they own. Whether out of sentimental value or just inflated egos, we often think what we have is worth more than it actually is. This is never truer than when trading in a car upon purchase of a new vehicle.

It is expected that the car salesperson will hand over top dollar the moment your tires hit his lot because your car is special and in pristine condition. Well, there is that rust spot on the back bumper, and the time your latte exploded over the front seat, and it does have a billion miles on it…the list goes on and on…but, these are minor things in the grand scheme of your car’s value, right?

Nope. Even though cars are coveted possessions, they are not necessarily investments. Basically, what you put into it, you might not get out of it. Like college textbooks, but with a lot more digits involved.

In addition to just general wear and tear, mileage, market depreciation, and good old supply and demand that affect the bottom line of your trade-in value, you, as well as your driving habits and choices, might be responsible for a lower-than-hoped-for trade-in return.

According to U.S. News & World Report writer George Kennedy, if you drive like a maniac—aka braking hard, accelerating like a NASCAR driver, hit every pothole at top speed—it will show up in damaged brakes, bushings, and shocks, which the dealership will discover, and it will cost you.

Yes, we are all individuals, and we all have unique tastes and styles, but if you expressed that individuality to the extreme in your vehicle, your trade-in value will suffer for it.

“The rarer a car is, from a body style, color, or options standpoint, can really hamper trade-in values. As automotive enthusiasts, we sometimes praise individuality and vehicles that march to the beat of their own drum, but in reality, those unique choices hurt overall value,” reports Kennedy. “Trade-in value is all about residual value for the dealer, and that is dictated by how likely it is that the dealer can resell your vehicle for a profit.”

This also rings true for uncommon off-road trim packages and distinct drivetrains, according to Kennedy, who adds that body kits, custom decals, and other modifications can also alter a car’s trade-in value. Kennedy suggests that, if you did do something special to your vehicle, you should remove it if you plan to trade the car in down the road.

News Source: U.S. News & World Report