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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 goal is to help you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive financial calculators and tools, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct research and compare data for free and help you make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has partnerships with issuers such as, but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Make money The products that appear on this website are provided by companies that compensate us. This compensation can affect the way and where products appear on this website, for example, for example, the order in which they may be displayed within the listing categories, except where prohibited by law. Our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. This compensation, however, does affect the content we publish or the reviews that appear on this website. We do not include the universe of companies or financial deals that could be available to you.


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6 min read Published on October 11, 2022.

Authored by David McMillin Written by Contributing writer

David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David’s aim is to help readers understand how to save money and worry less.

Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor

Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since the end of 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain the confidence to control their finances through providing concise, well-researched and well-structured facts that break down otherwise complex topics into manageable bites.

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The trade-in of your car takes away the burden of selling your vehicle. The main perk of trading in a car, however, is the possibility to apply the trade-in value of the vehicle you have traded in directly to a new purchase. This is especially advantageous for those who are . These steps will help you make the most of your vehicle trade-in. Five steps to sell your car . Conducting research and understanding how to navigate the trade-in process can allow you to increase the amount your trade-in is worth. 1. Find out how much your car is worth. first step in selling your vehicle is to understand what exactly . Finding this information yourself will allow you to feel confident when it’s time to negotiate. It will help increase the chances of getting a fair deal. Instead of trying to figure out what the dealer thinks you should do some investigation to get a sense of the value of your car. Free online appraisal tools, such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds, can help you determine the value of your car. If you have them, try using estimator tools that can offer more information about the amount your car can be worth based on the car’s features beyond make, model, year and mileage. The value of your car could also be affected by external influences. If gas prices are high, as they are and they are, a car with better gas mileage might be more popular than a large truck. 2. Check out your financial situation. Trading in a vehicle requires more than just looking at the vehicle. You’ll also have to consider the state of your finances in the event of the transaction. If you’re in the market, consider whether its trade-in value will be enough to pay off the rest portion of your loan. This can be done by contact your lender to inquire about the amount of loan’s repayment and comparing that figure to your car’s trade-in value. Contact several dealers to request quotes for trade-ins and get an accurate idea of much dealers will be willing to pay. Remember, if a dealer offers to pay your loan off on your behalf it is likely that you will add the payoff amount to the new loan for your next vehicle. 3. Ask for offers from multiple dealers. You do not need to visit the dealer in order to begin the process of trading in. In fact, it is possible to make dealers contact you for the price. Many online value estimators like Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar have connections to dealers who will offer deals based on the details you give about your car. It is also a good idea to begin where you purchased your vehicle. “If the buyer is able to visit the same dealership from which they bought the car, he could be able to negotiate a better deal since they have a relationship and past experience with that particular dealership,” says Meghan Davlin director of communications and member engagement for the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association. 4. Get your car clean better-looking car is more likely to sell. Make the effort to clean the outside and inside of the car so that you are showing the car in its best state to aid in the sale “Make sure that your vehicle is clean and you’re presenting it as you would want to get it purchasing your own,” says Alain Nana-Sinkam who is the senior vice-president for business development with TrueCar. “Also, if there were small flaws you had planned to address prior to the trade, make sure to make them happen so that the car is delivered to the dealer in the same way you reported and as they are expecting it.” A well-maintained vehicle will receive a much more favorable price. Just don’t pay more to repair the vehicle than what you plan to sell it for. Be sure to have any service documents in your possession. It is an ideal time to review any recall notices for your car. If you find any defective parts that have triggered an recall, it could lead to a safety risk. Most recalls lead to the fixing or replacing of a vehicle part without cost to the customer. 5. Schedule an appointment with a dealer . Car dealerships can be busy places. Schedule an appointment well in advance to avoid waiting. The appraiser will review the car to confirm that all the information you submitted online is correct. “Ask whether you’re able to be present with the appraiser so that you can inquire about how they are determining how much they value your vehicle,” says Joe McCloskey who is the director of McCloskey Motors located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “Most dealerships will provide this information with you and this will assist you in understanding the process by which the dealer will be evaluating your vehicle’s worth.” Be sure to bring the registration of your vehicle along with the title and all keys. If you don’t have the title because you’re trading in a vehicle that is still under loan, have the lender’s contact information available to give. And remember, you don’t have to take the first trade-in price a dealer suggests. You are able to negotiate the car’s trade-in price. Dealers usually start by offering the lowest price possible. Inform the dealer that the price is too low in comparison to other dealers or the value you’ve uncovered in your study. Negotiating the trade-in price separately from the purchase price for your next car also helps to ensure you get the highest value you can for your trade-in. What is the right time to sell your car . The primary factor knowing if it is the right time to sell your car is to know your vehicle’s equity. The equity of your car represents the gap between the amount you still owe on the car and the current value it has. It is best not to trade within your vehicle while you’re in the process having the same as having . This means you owe more on your vehicle loan than what the vehicle is worth today. This is a challenging circumstance to find yourself in since you’ll still need to pay the remaining loan balance once you have traded in your vehicle. If you are able, keep paying until you’re not under water. If you are forced to sell your vehicle with negative equity, consider buying an affordable vehicle to minimize your losses. Having positive equity, however, is a good spot to be in since it permits you to get the additional value from your car and put it to finance the purchase of the new vehicle. Pros and pros of trading your vehicle before you trade your vehicle in, be sure that you know the advantages and disadvantages of selling your car yourself. Pros of trading in your car The main benefit to trading your car in is that it will free you from the stress and headache of selling the vehicle by yourself. requires identifying the right price, posting the car for sale in a place where buyers can be able to see it, and dealing with prospective buyers. But when you sell it, the dealer does much of the work for you. “In most states, there’s the tax benefit of purchasing and trading in your vehicle through a dealer,” Nana-Sinkam states, “because in those states they only charge tax on the difference between the trade-in value and the cost of the new car instead of paying full tax on the entire purchase price of a new vehicle.” Additionally the process of trading in your car can simplify the steps between selling your old vehicle and purchasing a new one. Instead of visiting multiple places, you can take your old vehicle to the dealer and use the trade-in value as credit towards the purchase of your new car. The disadvantages of trading in a vehicle There’s one major downside when trading your car though: You probably won’t earn as much like you would if had the vehicle sold yourself. The dealership is trying to make money by selling the used vehicle to a different driver which means you’ll be missing the extra amount. Trading your car in might restrict your options when it comes time to purchase the next car. If you’re planning to use the value of your old vehicle as the down payment for a brand new one, you may want to purchase your new vehicle by a dealer who is willing to buy your old one. Next steps Trading with your old car rather than selling it on your own can make it easier to get into a new car. To maximize the amount you earn, begin by researching the worth of your vehicle with no-cost online car estimators. Before you visit a dealer, have your car cleaned both inside and out, and then make cost-effective minor repairs. It’s recommended to get offers from multiple dealers. Remember that you have the option of negotiating the price of your trade-in.


Written by the writer who contributed to the article.

David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and writes about topics such as credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David’s mission is to assist readers understand how to save money and worry less.

Editor: Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor

Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain confidence to manage their finances through providing concise, well-researched, and clear data that chops otherwise complex subjects into digestible pieces.

Auto loans editor

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