How to Improve Your Trade-in Value

Ready to trade in your car as soon as possible? Or have you just started thinking about it? Whether you're ready to accept a cash offer or you don't know where to begin, you can benefit from knowing the tricks of the trade to get the most money out of your trade-in. Let's get started!

Start by Doing Your Research

Your first step to improving your car's trade-in value is to understand what it's worth. Key action steps to take include finding the Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds values, getting your timing right, assessing the market, and even keeping your mind open to different location options.

Find the Kelley Blue Book Value

Kelley Blue Book is an online company that provides information about new vehicles and used car prices. When you put in your car's vehicle identification number or license plate, the website will give you a resale estimate. It uses data from previous transactions to determine how your car's mileage, demand in your area, and the vehicle's condition will impact this Fair Purchase Price.

The KBB service gives you other important numbers, too, including the Fair Market Range and the Typical Listing Price. The Fair Market Range tells you what you would likely pay for the car, and the latter represents what a dealer would sell it for after the trade-in's complete.

Use Edmunds Calculator Tool

Don't just stop with one research platform. Edmunds is another great option to price your car accurately. It asks for the same information as KBB to provide a trade-in value of its own. The more information you have about your car's value, the better!

Get the Timing Right

Selling your used vehicle at a different time of the year could drastically impact its resale value! With high demand, dealers will pay additional money. You'll typically hear that spring and summer are the best times to sell your car. In the spring, people get their tax refund checks and have more money to spend. In the summer, people want to go on vacations, long drives, and off-roading.

Unless you consider yourself to be a lucky person, you're probably not going to get a great deal on your used car if you sell it in the winter. The worst times for trade-in values are in the months of January to April. This makes sense, considering that people are usually focused on paying their taxes for the previous year. 

Follow the Market

Timing also plays a key role in the market for trade-ins. Certain factors like part shortages or higher demand for certain models could increase the value of your car by 10% or more. We'd say that's a really good deal!

Another important consideration is gas prices. When gas prices are high, compact and fuel-efficient vehicles look more appealing to buyers, while trucks and other gas guzzlers may not fare as well. If you’re willing to keep up with economic conditions and wait until the time is right, you can get a higher price.

Consider Different Locations

Location is another potential advantage for your car trade-in. With a bit of investigation, you may discover that the demand for your car is higher in certain regions of your state than in others.

With the convenience of the internet, you'll be able to find out the best locations to sell your car in just a few hours. You can be confident that driving an extra hour or two will give you the best trade-in value for your vehicle.

Take Care of the Maintenance

When you sell your car to a dealer, they will do their own maintenance, inspection, and cleaning process on the old vehicle. This doesn't mean you should skip out on taking care of these steps. The opposite is true: The dealer will take it as a good sign that you respect your car.

Pay Attention to the Basics

A well-maintained car goes a long way. You can preserve your vehicle's value by taking it in for regular oil changes and tire rotations. If you've fallen behind on upkeep, though, don't stress: better late than never.

Even if you're not planning on selling your car for another six months or even another year, schedule it for maintenance right now. You'll be able to get in a few maintenance appointments before the trade-in, which you can document on maintenance records that you show to buyers.

Fix Mechanical Problems Before They Get Serious

Take your used car to the mechanic or a dealer's service department as soon as possible to find and fix any potential mechanical issues before you bring it in for appraisal. Common mechanical problems that you should be aware of include brake failure, suspension problems, engine failure, flat or blown-out tires, and broken tail lights. 

The earlier you discover mechanical issues, the easier they will be to address. You may not know why that warning light suddenly came on, but a mechanic has the tools needed to handle the situation. Ultimately, you'll preserve your car's value and save yourself from stress.

Clean Up Your Ride

Don’t underestimate the importance of a clean car. You can improve its trade-in value just by showing that you put effort into its appearance. People indeed judge books by their covers: A detailed car can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the final price!

Take other steps to show dealerships that you’re serious about getting the best price for your used car. Remove all of your personal items, take your ride in for a car wash, and make sure it's in pristine condition. This includes repairing cosmetic damage. Now’s the time to fix that dent that you’ve been meaning to straighten out for months.

Think About the Money From All Angles

Getting the most from a vehicle trade-in is about more than the price that a buyer pays. You also have to consider other costs that may sneak up on you, like high sales taxes, paying back auto loans, or even recovering from a private buyer who can't afford the car they bought from you.

Consider Your Personal Finance

Many of us know that we want a new car while we still owe money on our current one. High monthly payments or longstanding auto loans are no reason to forego getting a new vehicle, but they are important to think about during trade-ins.

Knowing where your finances stand ensures you set yourself up for the best deal. You don't want to make a trade-in and still owe money on your car due to accrued interest. Bring out the calculator and determine how much you should pay off on your old vehicle before the trade-in.

Understand the Financial Risks of Private Sales

You may think that a private sale is the best option for your car, but it can bring you many headaches. When selling privately, Missouri law requires you to get safety and emission inspections that are less than 60 days old.

Also, a private party may not be able to afford the vehicle that they're paying for or haggle you for a lower price. Without a cash offer, you can't be sure that you're going to get paid.

Think of Dealership Benefits

Selling to a dealership will give you peace of mind and can ultimately protect you from private sales that go wrong. You don't want to be the victim of a check that bounces or a buyer that gets into a fender bender on a test drive.

Dealers can give you the financial security that other car buyers can't. You know that you're going to get paid after the trade-in process, no matter what.

Familiarize Yourself With Tax Laws

Taxes add thousands of dollars to the sale price of cars, but you can save a significant amount of these costs if you get to know your state's tax laws. Expect to save at least a few hundred dollars just by making a trade-in on an old car, thanks to your trade-in credit.

Let's say you're buying a car worth $30,000 with a tax rate of 7%. Your taxes would be $2,100. After a trade-in with a resale value of $8,000, the sales tax is now $1,540 (0.07 of $22,000). That's more than $500 right there! Keep in mind that your state may have a limit on the amount you can save in sales taxes, so be strategic about the price of the new vehicle.

Negotiate Your Car's Trade-In Value

All of your hard work is about to pay off in the negotiation process. Here are a few more final tips to squeeze every last dime from your trade-in while saving on your next car!

Shop Around for Offers

The first rule of negotiating your trade-in value is not to get locked into a deal too quickly. It's important to get multiple quotes, so you don't short-change yourself. You have more leverage when you can walk away from one dealer because you have interest from multiple dealerships.

You’ll need basic information about your car, like the vehicle title and loan information, to send out to dealers. You can typically get a quote on a dealer’s website or send them an email. Once they make a physical inspection of your old vehicle, you’ll know just what they’re prepared to give you.

Get in the Head of a Salesman

We're happy that our team at Landmark Dodge Chrysler Jeep®  Ram will work to give you a great offer. But you won't be so lucky at every dealership. Many salesmen use the trade-ins as a way to make more money from you than on an individual sale.

Talk to a former car salesman, and you might hear this advice: Don't announce that you're trading in your car right away. Instead, see what the prices are on the available vehicles at a dealership and work to negotiate a price for your next car. At this point, mention that you have a trade-in and come prepared with your other offers.

Decide On One Deal or Two

You have the option to trade in your used car for a new one within the same transaction, or you can get your trade-in price as a separate deal. Completing both steps in the same transaction is more convenient and beneficial, but you can save the most money if you opt for two transactions.

Making two separate transactions gives you more control over the process of trading in your old car. You can ensure that the exact numbers you negotiated with your dealer are reflected in both your sale and your new car purchase.

Bring Supporting Documents

Talking with a car salesman is one thing; having the documents to back you up at the dealership is another. It will be easier for you to get a top-dollar offer on your vehicle when you have the market price for a similar vehicle in hand.

Bring your car purchase agreement, your maintenance records, and all offers from other buyers. This signals to car dealers that you're not going to accept an unfair trade-in.

You've done your research, get your car all cleaned up, thought about your next vehicle, and looked at offers. What's next? It's time to complete your trade-in at a dealership! Give us a call at Landmark Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, where you can reach us at this number: 816-836-0100. You can also check your vehicle trade-in value online here! We strive to provide competitive offers that will get you excited about your next vehicle.


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