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How to Trade in Your CarIf you’ve owned your current vehicle for several years, it’s natural to, frankly, get a little sick of it. There are plenty of reasons why a driver such as yourself might be eyeballing new vehicles, such as:

  1. A growing family that needs more space
  1. Repairs that are getting too frequent
  1. Wanting to experience new tech or safety features
  1. Poor fuel economy
  1. Wanting to go electric

Whatever the reason, you understand that it’s time for your old car to go and for you to get something new to take its place, but you can’t just throw your car in the trash, of course. Instead of just keeping it around or scrapping it, have it bring in some value as a trade-in! 

Here’s how you can do it:

Assess Your Budget

Trading in your current car will probably only cover a portion of the cost of a new one, so you’re going to have to figure out what your budget looks like. Ask yourself if you’re willing to take out a car loan and make monthly payments or figure out whether you can cover the difference in cash.

Find a Value for Your Car

Some dealers will provide you with a free value estimate, even if you don’t end up trading the car there. Kelly Blue Book is a good starting point for finding car values, but you should look for cars for sale with similar conditions, options, and mileage to stay realistic and see what others are asking in the current market. 

In addition, remember that you’ll only get a reasonable value if you go through the trouble of selling your car yourself. Dealers will always offer less so they can make a profit.

Assemble Everything You Need

Gather the title, keys, registration, and any parts or accessories you’ve removed, and bring them along as you get quotes for your car. Records of maintenance and the car’s level of originality, for instance, can dramatically increase its value. You can also make a little more money by making a few repairs that raise the value of the vehicle. When getting quotes, ask about items that might be worth getting fixed.

If you still owe money on the car, bring your loan info. Some dealers will buy your car and roll over the remaining loan amount to your next vehicle, but that is generally not advisable unless the amount is small.

Get Multiple Offers

Take your car to multiple dealers, as values can vary greatly from dealer to dealer! Chains such as CarMax and AutoNation compete with regional and local lots, and each uses different valuing systems. Depending on how far you’re willing to drive, dealers in different locations may offer higher prices, too; just call first to see if they’re interested. 

Make the Trade

To get the most favorable terms, be prepared to negotiate. Seek the lowest price possible on a new car while pushing for the most money for your old one. Read all terms and conditions on your paperwork, and punch the figures into a calculator to ensure you’re getting the prices and values you agreed to. Whether you plan to step into your dream car or another in a long line of vehicles, you can now navigate the trade-in process with confidence.

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