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Negotiating Your Trade-In

One of the most frustration components of buying a new car is trading in your current vehicle.  Let me share a few pointers that will help alleviate some aggravation.

Getting Started

If your vehicle is leased or financed, contact your bank and find out your dealer payoff.  This is one of the more important matters because you need to know if you are in a positive or negative financial standing.  Whether you lease, finance or own your vehicle, you always want to do your due diligence before contacting a dealership.  You can visit various websites to research what your car is retailing for.  The figures on the sites are “retail” amounts NOT “trade-in” value.  Some reliable websites are www.autotrader.comwww.cars.com and www.ebay.com.  This research is to help you understand the market and provide a clear understanding of what your car value is on the open market.  In the car business, we have a saying “being upside down in your trade.”  This means the payoff is more than the ACV (actual car value.)  When this happens you have two options:

  1. Add cash to the purchase of the new car (if you can).  This will prevent you from financing [some of] the car you are trading in.
  2. Finance the negative equity from your trade-in in the deal of the new car you are buying. This will eliminate you from having to put any money down.  This is a good tip if you are getting a low interest rate to finance your new car.

Where Has Your Car Been

If you are not the original owner, know the history of your car (if you have Carfax accessibility.)  Most dealerships will do this for you.  Be 100% honest when the salesperson asks you certain questions such as:

Has your car been in an accident?

Has your car been painted?

When was the last service date?

What conditions are the tires and brakes in?

Did the primary driver(s) smoke in the car?

These aspects will affect the value of your car.

Pimp My Ride

We all love to put our own personal touches on a car and there is nothing wrong with that.  However, you should not make dramatic changes to a vehicle like painting it unique colors, placing bumper stickers on the actual paint of the car and some stereo modifications, including rewiring speakers. This can harm your trade-in value.  It is best to keep personal touches to a minimum so the next buyer will be interested in purchasing your vehicle.  You want your car to be marketable when the time comes to trade it in.


Present your trade-in in the best light.  Before getting an appraisal, it is beneficial to detail your vehicle inside and out.  Thoroughly look over your trade-in as if you are the potential buyer.  This will give you the opportunity to make sure you are showing your car at its best.  Don’t forget to remove all personal items in the glove box, arm rest and CD player.

Let’s Make A Deal

Make your trade-in a separate deal from the car you are buying.  A lot of dealers will give you a bottom line price on the car you are buying which will include the car you are trading in.  This is a method widely used by dealerships. You don’t want to be confused with how much you will pay for the new car and how much you are getting for your trade-in. To avoid this puzzling practice, have your salesperson negotiate the cost of the car you are purchasing THEN negotiate your trade-in and how much it is worth.  This will allow the separate deals to come together in the end.  This is also a way of keeping your dealer honest.

Once you have completed all steps, this should lessen the hassle and you can go home with peace of mind knowing you got a good deal. Hopefully you will pass this information along to someone you know who is car shopping.

Mike Goodall

Internet Sales at Select Luxury Cars

Select Luxury Cars, located in Marietta, Ga. on Highway 41, hand “Selects” every vehicle. We specialize in the highest quality automobiles available in the market. Whether you live here in the Atlanta area or anywhere around the world, we will find the exact car you are dreaming of. If you are looking for a Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari or other high end model, begin your search here and we won’t disappoint.

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