By Madeline Klein on June 1, 2017.
If the time has come to part ways with your vehicle and you're considering trading it in, we've got a few tips to help get you the best price.
Get a ballpark value of your vehicle
A little homework can go a long way when it comes to negotiating a sales price with a car dealership. Before you go, get a few estimates of how much your vehicle is worth.
Online: KellyBlueBook and Edmunds.com are both great online tools to plug in your cars details and get a quote, but be aware of your own bias. While you may think your car is in "great" shape, a dealer may only qualify it as "good" and drop the value.
Third-Party Appraisal: Do a little Google search to see if you have a CarMax nearby. In about thirty minutes, the company can look up current market conditions, do a full inspection, give your vehicle a test drive and review its history. After everything is checked and reviewed, you'll get a written estimate (valid for seven days) with no obligation to sell your vehicle to CarMax.
Pretend Buyer: Switch roles for a second and search for your vehicle in local listings on sites like Craigslist or AutoTrader. Not only can you see what kind of prices the sellers are expecting, but you can also watch to see how easily those prices sell. If a similar car has been listed at a certain price for months, you may want to lower your expectations. If it sold relatively quickly, you'll have a decent number in mind when a trade-in offer is made (knowing the dealer will probably go lower to pad their own resale profit).
Document vehicle work and maintenance
If you've done or gotten any recent repair work done on your vehicle that could potentially increase its value, document it and bring any related receipts. Consider things as simple as a new battery or as complex as an engine repair.
Be aware that any customization work could actually hurt the trade-in value, since most dealers will have to pay to get your vehicle back to its original state. For instance, if you customized your vehicle to have larger rims or loud speakers but kept the original stock parts, it may be worth it to switch the parts back before getting an offer.
If you've kept a detailed record of any maintenance done on your vehicle, be sure to bring it to the dealership. That way, you can show what kind of care you've given your car and the dealer can better trust what kind of condition the car is in.
Check with different dealerships
You don't have to take the first offer you receive. In fact, different dealerships have different inventories which may reflect how they price your trade-in. If one dealer just sold three cars like yours, they're probably going to give you a better price than one who already has three sitting on their lot. Ask a few different dealerships before making a deal.
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