Any time you buy a new or used car at the dealership, you will get something for the car you’re driving now: your trade-in. Estimating the value of your trade-in vehicle is difficult because in many cases, dealers will give you more for your trade-in than the car is actually worth. There are a few ways, however, that you can research the value of your trade-in so you’ll be prepared to haggle with the dealer.
- Kelley Blue Book is one of the most trusted names in vehicle valuation. The online resource will allow you to choose whether you want the estimated value of a car at trade-in, private party resale, or suggested retail value. Why are these amounts so different? Dealerships can hang on to inventory waiting for someone to come along and pay the retail price, while private sellers generally are interested in selling more quickly.
- Edmunds.com has an online Used Car Appraiser which allows you to enter the make, model, and year of your car and get basic values for trade-in, private resale, and retail price of the vehicle. If you continue through the steps of the appraisal system, however, you can see how your car’s color, optional equipment, mileage, and condition affect the car’s value. This can be especially helpful when deciding whether to make repairs before selling or trading in, for example, since each factor is itemized in the detailed report you’ll see. Best of all, the service is free and you don’t have to enter any personal information or sign up to receive e-mails in order to get the report.
- NADA Guides offers advice to consumers who are looking to sell or trade in their cars. They provide tips on how to appraise your car’s true worth, including how to describe damage and repairs needed, as well as how to get your car inspected by a licensed mechanic.
While the amount you ultimately get for your trade-in will depend on a number of factors, the most important element driving the trade-in amount is often the consumer’s negotiating skills. No matter what you get for your trade-in vehicle, you should enter that information, along with the price of the replacement vehicle and loan terms into any car payment calculator to determine your monthly payments.