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Five Things to Know Before Trading in Your Vehicle


Trading in your old vehicle for a new one gets complicated. Understanding how to prepare before you go to the dealership can maximize your trade-in's value and help you get a better deal overall.

  1. Identify the value of your vehicle. If you are not aware of its worth, you’re more likely to underestimate its value, which could result in an unfair price. Once this information is gathered, print a copy and bring it to the dealership. When you begin negotiating on a trade-in price, you’ll have a reference to see if you are getting the best deal.
  2. Fix up your car. Perhaps not major repairs (the dealer should be told about them, however), but small “cosmetic” fixes, which may raise the trade-in value. Shampooing the carpets, getting a car wash, touching up paint to cover minor scratches, and repairing dents can add value to your car and potentially increase your trade-in value.
  3. Find and include all accessories. Trading in your vehicle means you are trading in everything that goes with it. Make sure the original owner’s manual and any extra keys are in the vehicle when you arrive at the dealership. Dealers like used cars that still have all the accessories, and may even give you a better deal on your trade.
  4. Bring important paperwork. When trading in a vehicle, you are also required to bring important paperwork, such as current insurance, registration, and title. If you still owe money on your vehicle, bring the current pay off amount. Most dealers will offer to add what you still owe on your trade-in to the loan you're taking out on your new car. The dealer will then pay off your old loan and get the car title from your previous lender.
  5. Get more than one quote. You’ve already researched your vehicle’s value, so now you might compare that value at multiple dealerships. The price they are willing to pay you for your trade-in can differ at each location. Keep copies of the quotes you receive and use them as a pricing guide to begin negotiating with the dealer of your choice.

Ultimately, dealerships want your business, and they’re generally ready to accept your trade-in and negotiate a fair price. Do your research and familiarize yourself with what they are looking for, and make sure you’re getting the most money possible for your vehicle.

Ready to trade-in your vehicle and finance your next? Find more helpful car buying resources online at

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