Tips, Tricks & Trends

The Right Way to Maximize Your Car’s Trade-In Value

Shopping for a new car? You may be considering trading in your current vehicle. Chances are, you want to maximize your current vehicle’s trade-in value too. Fortunately, we’ve got the inside scoop on how to maximize your car’s trade-in value.

New Ford dealership pictured.
A new Ford dealership. | Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

What is a trade-in anyway?

The odds are, you already know what a trade-in car is. But for those folks that don’t know what a trade-in car is, let us explain. To put it simply, a trade-in car is a car that you offer to the car dealership you’re shopping at in exchange for credit. That credit can then be used to put towards the price of the car you plan on purchasing. Pretty simple to understand, right?

How to determine your car’s trade-in value

Now that you know what a trade-in car is, let’s talk about how trading in a car actually works. According to NerdWallet, it’s a fairly simple process. First, you’re going to want to start by determining your car’s value. To determine your car’s value, you can visit a site like Kelley Blue Book, which will give you a good understanding of the market price for the vehicle you currently own.

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Once you’ve determined your car’s trade-in value, NerdWallet recommends getting quotes from an online retailer like Carvana, which will make you a cash offer for your car.  According to NerdWallet, you can also get a cash offer from a place like CarMax. Lastly, make sure to check out how similar cars to yours are selling in your area. According to NerdWallet, having this information on hand is a great way to understand what your trade-in is worth. It also puts you in a good position to negotiate a fair price.

The smart way to maximize your car’s trade-in value

There are ways to maximize your car’s trade-in value too. So if those numbers you come across online are a tad disappointing? Not to worry. In fact, Kelley Blue Book reports that a cleaned and detailed vehicle is worth more as a trade-in than a poorly maintained one would be. What does that mean for you, then? Well, that means you’re going to have to put some effort into cleaning and detailing your car.

A thorough cleaning isn’t the only way to maximize your car’s trade-in value. Kelley Blue Book reports that if your car is in need of minor repairs, you should get them taken care of. Doing things like fixing windshield damage or taking care of minor engine issues can also help maximize your car’s trade-in value.

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Is trading in your car worth it?

There are plenty of reasons to trade-in your car. But is doing so actually worth it? According to U.S. News & World Report, it is. As they explain, “Part of the efficiency behind trading your car in stems from having a centralized location. All you need to do is drive your old car to the dealership and drive your new car home.” But does that mean trading in your car is what you should do? That’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.