6 Ways to Boost Your Car’s Trade-In Value

Photo (cc) by chrisf608

You’re finally in tip-top financial shape to purchase a new car, but there’s one problem. How will you get your existing set of wheels off your hands?

You don’t have the time to deal with the hassle of a private sale, and you have no desire to auction it off.

You decide a dealer trade is the best way to earn cash for your vehicle with no strings attached. Afraid of getting lowballed by the car salesman? Don’t fret. Conducting research on the trade-in process and your car’s value will equip you with the tools needed to demand top dollar for your ride.

Let’s start with this video we did last year called “How to Sell Your Car for More Money.”

How trade-in values are determined

According to CarsDirect, five factors determine the trade-in value:

  • Year. Newer models get the most attention from used-car shoppers. “When a dealership anticipates a quick sale, they are more willing to pay a higher price for it,” CD says.
  • Make and model. If the model holds value or is in high demand, the resale amount will be decent.
  • Condition. Both the exterior and interior appearance are a component of the vehicle’s appraised value.
  • Mileage. The higher the mileage, the lower the trade-in value. “Even if the vehicle’s condition is impeccable, an odometer reflecting high mileage may make a consumer less willing to purchase a car at a price acceptable to the dealership,” CD says.
  • Desirability. If your car is popular among consumers, you’re in luck.

So, make note of the mileage and condition of your car. Then, visit a site such as Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of what the trade-in value will be. Note: These sites often offer several different prices, including the trade-in value and one for private sales, so make sure you’re checking the right one.

Other sites that provide trade-in values include Edmunds, NADA Guides, CarsDirect and Black Book. Check several of them.

Edmunds says the trade-in value will be less than that for a private sale, which requires more effort on the owner’s part.

Keep in mind that values can also be different based on where you live and what’s popular in your area. So be sure to look at what similar vehicles are selling for in your community or state. Check newspaper ads and other local sources.

So now you’re prepared to negotiate a decent price. Is the offer you’re getting from the dealership fair? Scott Painter, CEO of California-based automotive search company Zag, told Bankrate:

For a resale, the average dealer is looking to make between 2 and 4 percent on a transaction. So take whatever your car’s value is and add in whatever cost it would take to refurbish the vehicle. Then, add in 2 to 4 percent, and as long as the trade-in price you’re given is in that window, it’s probably a fair deal.

Now let’s look at some ways to improve your trade-in’s value.

1. Bring the maintenance up to speed

I’m not suggesting you spend a load of cash and give the car a complete makeover. But the better the condition, the more money you’ll make. AutoTrader notes:

When it comes to making repairs to your used car, you need to determine whether or not the repairs will actually increase the value of the vehicle at resale time. Most importantly, you need to determine if you’ll be able to increase the selling price of the car enough to recoup the cost of those repairs.

2. Don’t forget about the body work

Too many dents, dings and scratches can be hard on the eye. So, suck it up and fork over the cash to have them repaired.

Said Dan Ingle of Kelley Blue Book, “Dent removal experts can be very affordable — often charging only $100 to remove several dings. You will be saving the buyer the headache of taking it to the body shop.”

KBB added, “For a major dent where a panel needs to be repaired, it makes even better financial sense to fix it, Ingle advises.”

3. Provide service documentation

This information should be present on the Carfax report, if one is acquired, but don’t take any chances. “Any and all fluid changes, tire rotations, paint or body repairs, engine repairs and service and any other related maintenance documentation is important to have because it demonstrates to a dealer the care the vehicle has received during the time you owned it,” says AutoTrader.

If you didn’t keep the receipts, ask the shop you used for the documents.

4. Detail your ride

Some consumers are more interested in a visually appealing vehicle than they are with what’s under the hood. Sheronde Glover, founder and CEO of Car-Buy-Her, told Bankrate:

“Make sure your car is clean. A good detailing job might cost about $50, but it could increase your car’s value by several hundred dollars.”

Want to do it yourself? Check out AutoTrader’s comprehensive auto-detailing checklist here.

5. Negotiate the selling price separately

Don’t mention your trade-in until you’ve negotiated the purchase price of your new vehicle. Otherwise, the salesman will talk about them as a package and make the deal you’re getting a source of confusion. NewCars.com advises, “If the dealer asks if you plan on trading in your car, do not say yes or no, just say ‘Possibly, but let’s just talk about the new car price first.'”

6. Shop around

Not satisfied with the final offer for your trade-in? Shop around at a few more dealerships, and you may be able to get more than you were initially quoted because the demand varies by location. If a vehicle identical to yours has been sitting on the lot for a month, don’t expect to get top dollar for your trade-in, Bankrate says.

What tricks have you used to boost your car’s trade-in value? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will
8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will

Here’s why the last decades of life are harder now than they used to be.

5 Common Medical Expenses That Medicare Won’t Pay For
5 Common Medical Expenses That Medicare Won’t Pay For

Don’t let these health care costs catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buying
8 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buying

You may think you’re looking at a must-have purchase. But do the numbers and think twice.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

10 Ways Retailers Trick You Into Spending More
10 Ways Retailers Trick You Into Spending More

Think you’re a savvy shopper? Find out how retailers persuade you to dig more deeply into your wallet.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.