Home > 2014 > Auto Loans

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

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

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.

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 components 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 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.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

Image: Ingram Publishing

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team