Aaron Widmar

Want to Increase Your Car’s Trade-In Value? Follow These Steps

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Five ways you can potentially get more credit for your used car from a dealer

Increase the trade-in value of your car at the dealership

You’re itching to replace your current car with a shiny new model from your local dealership. The most convenient way to dispose of your old car is to simply trade it in to the dealership where you’re acquiring your new car. In exchange for your old vehicle, they’ll give you a credit toward your purchase. Of course, you want to get the best offer for your car, so how can you increase its trade-in value now?

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1. Get it running again

If your car is crawling on its last leg into the dealer’s parking lot, you’re going to be offered next to nothing for your trade-in. All it will be good for is scrap parts.

The best way to ensure the dealer takes your trade-in seriously is to make it drivable again. So, if there are any quick-fix repairs you’ve been neglecting to do, consider them beforehand. They might be enough to bump a “poor” condition car to a “fair” condition one.

At some point, though, it may be wiser financially to cut your losses and sell your car as it is. You don’t want to exhaust your budget overhauling a money pit.

2. Spruce up its appearance

Obvious cosmetic problems can make a terrible first impression. So if your car has any noticeable bumper dents, door dings, broken bulbs, or rust spots you can fix yourself, make the effort to do so.

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. Gather all the paperwork

Titles and registration aren’t the only documents those purchasing your car think about. If you want to show the dealer that you’ve taken good mechanical care of your vehicle, prove it with a folder full of receipts from oil changes, tire replacements, and other maintenance work.

If you didn’t keep these papers in your car’s service folder, check its vehicle history report, or scour through your online bank statements and contact the garage when you took your car for repairs.

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used cars traded in for money

4. Wait to discuss trading in your car

A major part of buying a new car is negotiation, and that negotiation will involve trading in your old car for credit. According to NerdWallet, if salesmen know that if you’re trading in a car, they’ll have to make up for the financial loss being less flexible on the price of the new car.

Keep your negotiations separate by talking strictly about the new model until you agree on a final price. After that, you can put the trade-in on the table. If you’re asked about it, just say you’re not sure yet.

5. Know the value of your car

Your vehicle may actually be worth more than you realize. Instead of just relying on what the dealer tells you the car is worth, Credit Karma recommends you consult a couple of different sources to get an idea of what its true value is. Check by a trusted valuation source like Kelley Blue Book as well as free online trade-in evaluations.

Don’t overestimate though – even if your car is worth a certain amount, factors like local demand (an electric vehicle in the rural Midwest) might lower its value.

Getting a good deal on your trade-in is only worthwhile if you get a good deal on your new car, though, so don’t undermine the deal you’re receiving on your next ride for the sake of a slightly higher credit.