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How to trade in your car: 5 simple steps to take Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our aim is to assist you make smarter financial decisions by offering interactive financial calculators and tools as well as publishing independent and objective content. We also allow you to conduct your own research and compare information for free and help you make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has partnerships with issuers such as, but not restricted to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn Money The deals that are displayed on this site come from companies that pay us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including for instance, the sequence in which they be displayed within the listing categories, except where prohibited by law. This applies to our mortgage or home equity products, as well as other products for home loans. But this compensation does affect the information we publish, or the reviews appear on this website. We do not cover the vast array of companies or financial offerings that could be open to you.


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6 min read Read Published October 11, 2022

Authored by David McMillin Written by the writer who contributed to the writing

David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics such as mortgages, credit cards tax, banking, and travel. David’s mission is to assist readers figure out how to save money and worry less.

Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor

Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain the confidence to control their finances by providing precise, well-studied information that breaks down complicated subjects into digestible pieces.

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Trading in your car eliminates much of the work of selling a vehicle. The main perk of trading in your vehicle, however, is the ability to transfer the value of your trade-in of the vehicle you have traded in directly towards a new purchase. This can be especially beneficial when you’re . These steps will allow you to get the most value from your vehicle trade-in. Five steps to trade-in your car . Conducting research and knowing how to navigate the trade-in process will help you maximize the amount that your trade-in earns. 1. Find out how much your car is worth. The first step to trading in your car is to know the exact value . Knowing this figure yourself will allow you to feel confident when it’s time to negotiate, and will improve your chance of getting an acceptable deal. Instead of waiting to find out what the dealer thinks you should do some investigation to find out your current vehicle’s worth. Free online appraisal tools such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds and can help you assess the value of your car. If you have them, try using estimator tools that can offer more information about the dollars your car will be worth based on the car’s features beyond make, model year, mileage, and make. Value can also be affected by external influences. If prices for gas are high, as they are right now, a car that gets higher gas mileage may be more in demand than an oversize truck. 2. Check out your finances . Trading in a car requires more than just looking at the vehicle. You’ll also need to evaluate the financial condition of your account to on the other side of the transaction. If you’re already in the process, you must determine the value of your trade-in will be sufficient to pay off the rest portion of your loan. This can be done by contact your lender to determine the amount to pay off the loan and then comparing the figure with the value of your car’s trade-in. Visit several dealers to ask for trade-in estimates and gain an accurate idea of the dealers will be willing to offer. Remember, if a dealer is willing to pay your loan off on your behalf then you’ll likely be able to apply the payoff amount to the new loan to purchase your next car. 3. Ask for offers from multiple dealers You don’t have to go to the dealer to begin the process of trading in. Instead, you can request dealers offer you a price. Numerous value estimators on the internet, such as Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar, are linked to dealers who extend offers based on the information you give about your car. It also may be smart to begin where you purchased your vehicle. “If the buyer can go to the same dealership from which they purchased the car, he could be able to get a better deal because they have a connection and past experience with that particular dealership,” says Meghan Davlin, director of communications and member engagement at the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association. 4. Clean your car better-looking car is more likely to be sold. Take the extra time to wash the outside and inside of the vehicle to ensure that you’re showing it in its best condition to make it easier for buyers “Make sure that your vehicle is spotless and you’re showing it in the same way you’d want to be receiving it if you were purchasing your own,” says Alain Nana-Sinkam the senior vice president of development for businesses at TrueCar. “Also should you find small flaws you had planned to correct prior to trade, make sure to make them happen so that the car is delivered to the dealer in the same way you stated and in the manner they’re anticipating it to be.” A well-maintained car will fetch a higher value. Be sure to not pay more for repairs than you anticipate selling it for. Be sure to have any service records on hand. It is an ideal time to check for any recall notices for your car. If you find any defective components that triggered recalls, it could lead to the risk of injury. Most recalls lead to the repair or replacement of the vehicle component without cost to the customer. 5. Set up an appointment with a dealer . Car dealerships are usually busy. Make an appointment in advance to cut down on time. The dealer will evaluate your vehicle to ensure that information that you provided online is correct. “Ask if you can attend the appraisal so that you can ask questions about the process they use to determine the value of your vehicle,” says Joe McCloskey who is the director of McCloskey Motors located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “Most dealerships will be able to share the information they have with you and knowing this information can aid you in understanding the process by which the dealer is valuing your vehicle’s value.” Make sure you bring the vehicle registration, the title and all sets of keys. If you do not have the title due to you’re trading in a car that is still under loan, have the lender’s contact information available to hand over. Remember, you don’t need to agree with the initial trade-in amount the dealer suggests. You may negotiate your vehicle’s trade-in value. Dealers typically begin by offering the lowest price possible. Let the dealer know that the offer appears too low, in comparison to other dealers or on the value you’ve discovered through your investigation. Negotiating the trade-in price separate from the purchase price for your next car also helps ensure that you receive the highest value you can for your trade-in. What is the right time to sell your car The key to being able to determine if it’s a good idea to sell your car is to know your vehicle’s equity. The equity of your car is the difference between the amount that you owe to the car and the current value of the vehicle. It is best not to trade in your vehicle in the event that you’re not having the same as having . That means that you are liable for more on the car loan than the car is worth at present. This is an extremely difficult situation because you’ll have to pay for the remaining loan amount after you trade in your vehicle. If you are able, keep making payments until you are no longer underwater. If you need to sell your vehicle with negative equity, think about buying an affordable vehicle to reduce the losses. Possessing equity that is positive however is a desirable position to be in since it lets you take the value you earn from your vehicle and use it towards the purchase cost of the new vehicle. The pros and pros of trading your vehicle in Before you trade your vehicle in, be sure you understand the benefits and disadvantages of selling the vehicle yourself. Pros of trading in a vehicle The biggest benefit of selling your car that it can save you from the hassle and stress of selling it by yourself. requires identifying the right price, posting the car to sell where potential buyers will view it, and negotiating with prospective buyers. But when you sell it, the dealer does most of the heavy lifting for the buyer. “In most states, there’s also the tax benefit of buying and trading in at a dealership,” Nana-Sinkam states, “because in those states, they only charge tax for the amount that is the sum of the trade-in price and the new vehicle price instead of paying full tax on the entire purchase price of a new vehicle.” In addition the process of trading in your car can simplify the steps between selling your car and buying a new one. Instead of going to several locations, you could simply bring your car to the dealer and use the trade-in value to earn equity toward your new car. Cons of trading in a car There is one major downside of trading in your car but you won’t get as much profit than if you sold the vehicle yourself. The dealership is trying to make money by selling your car to another driver and you’ll lose the extra amount. Selling your car could be a disadvantage when it comes to buying the next car. If you’re planning to use what you have earned from your previous car as a down payment on a new one, you may want to buy your new car from a dealership willing to buy your old one. Following steps: Trading in your old car rather than selling it on your own can simplify the process of getting into a new vehicle. To maximize the amount you make, start by researching the value of your car with free online car estimators. Before heading to the dealer, you should make sure your car is cleaned inside and out and make cost-effective minor repairs. It’s an excellent idea to get offers from multiple dealers. Remember that you have the option of negotiating the cost of trade-in.


Written by Contributing writer

David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like mortgages, credit cards and credit cards tax, banking, and travel. David’s goal is to help readers understand how to save more and stress less.

The edit was done by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor

Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since the end of 2021. They are committed to helping readers gain the confidence to take control of their finances with clear, well-researched information that breaks down complex topics into manageable bites.

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