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Tips for Getting the Best Car Trade-in Value

May 11, 2021 | Modified: March 24, 2022

If you’re getting ready to purchase a new vehicle, you may be wondering about the trade-in value of your existing vehicle. The trade-in value is the amount a dealership is willing to credit you towards the purchase of a new or used car in exchange for your existing vehicle. Here are five tips for getting the best car trade-in value.

1 Research the current trade-in price 

Researching trade-in value can be done easily from the comfort of your home or office. Begin by checking online pricing guides, such as Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds. Both will give you an estimated value for your existing vehicle, based on age, condition, mileage, features, and other factors. You will even get to see the difference between trade-in value and private party sales value. In addition, Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds also have features that enable you to generate an instant cash offer for your vehicle. While you’re doing advance online research, check out sites such as CarMax as well to see what they would offer for your vehicle.

2 Timing can be everything

 Timing is important when it comes to trade-in or sell your current vehicle. If you are trying to sell or trade-in a convertible in the middle of winter, you definitely won’t get the value you would in the spring or early summer. Simple supply and demand for your make and model of vehicle can also come into play with timing. The demand for used cars is actually up, which means it’s a good time to trade-in or sell. Vehicle demand also increases in the spring when people receive their tax refunds.

3 Spruce up your vehicle

Shine up your vehicle and help it look its best with a good cleaning and detailing – both inside and out. This includes a thorough wash, vacuum, detail, and fixing any minor scratches or dents. Be sure to shampoo the carpets, polish the tires and clean the glass inside and out. It will be money well spent.

4 Make necessary repairs

Any minor or necessary vehicle repairs should also be made at this time. Get an oil change and tune-up if needed. Resolve any easy-to-fix issues, such as replacing tail lights and other minor upkeep. A clean and well-maintained vehicle is a plus for dealers who won’t have to spend as much time getting a vehicle ready for sale. Putting a few bucks into minor repairs now could net you a higher trade-in value.

5 Keep negotiations for the purchase and trade-in separate

It’s important to understand that buying a new vehicle and trading in your existing vehicle are two separate transactions, and negotiations should be done independently of each other. Your goal is to get the best price on the new vehicle you are buying and also the best trade-in value on the car you hope to trade-in. If the dealer knows you have a trade-in, he or she will try to lump it into one transaction to generate more profits for the dealership. Check the dealership trade-in offer against the estimates you’ve researched from Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, and other sites for both trade-in value and private-seller value to be sure it is in line with those estimates of value. Don’t be afraid to negotiate as hard for your trade-in as you do for the new vehicle.

Take advantage of competitive auto loan rates

The trade-in value you receive for your existing vehicle means instant savings off the purchase of a new car, truck, or SUV. We hope our tips are helpful in arming you with the information you need to get the best deal on your vehicle trade-in. Now it’s time to work on the perfect auto loan deal. Benchmark Federal Credit Union offers competitive auto loan rates, flexible terms, and up to 125% financing for eligible borrowers. View Benchmark FCU auto loan rates.

Learn more about when it has historically been the best time to buy a new car in our blog post titled, “When is the best time to buy a car.”

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