Trade-in Tips and Tricks

Mar 18, 2016 | Auto Buying, Borrowing and Credit

Car and dollar notes sitting on his hand.

By Rick Seamann, Centris assistant vice president of indirect lending

You’re ready to trade in your vehicle for a better and/or newer model, but you can’t forget about the money you didn’t receive the last time you traded in. Here are a few tips and tricks to get the most value out of your trade-in.

  • Clean your vehicle. A dirty car is a turn off to the trade appraiser at the dealership. Your trade may run perfectly, but if the appraiser can’t get past the dirt and grime, the vehicle has no opportunity to shine. Take the time to detail your car; wash it, vacuum it and use a few air fresheners. Paying attention to these details gives the impression that you took care of your vehicle and will increase your trade-in value.
  • Do your research. The Internet is a great resource to research the going rate of your car based on the number of miles and condition it is in. Some of the most popular appraisal guides online include NADA, Kelley Blue Book and Black Book. Keep in mind that dealers sell at retail pricing and trade at wholesale pricing. When using these sources, remember they are just a guide. You will have to negotiate to receive your full trade value.
  • Sell your trade on your own. If you have the time and patience, this is a great option. Selling your vehicle on your own allows you to ask more for your trade-in and get a few more thousand dollars. In theory, this sounds like a simple plan, but keep in mind that you will have to advertise your vehicle and allow possible buyers to test drive it. It’s also important to know that you will not get sales tax credit on your next vehicle purchase. Craigslist is a popular and free site to sell your trade-in. Centris Federal Credit Union also has a website called AutoSMART where you can post your trade-in and sell on your own.
  • Go to the dealership at the end of the month to purchase. Dealerships have goals they need to meet and are more aggressive to sell at the end of the month. They will take “deals” that they passed on earlier in the month to meet those goals. Patience is key while waiting for the right deal and being ready to purchase when it presents itself.