So, you’re ready for a new truck, SUV, or car? You have done your homework and decided just exactly what you want. There is only one snag, your current vehicle. You have a few options when deciding how to sell your old vehicle: sell it privately, send it to auction, or trade it in.


Selling it privately can be a hassle. You have to do all of the marketing and vetting buyers yourself. Also, you limit your pool of potential buyers to those who have ready money to buy a vehicle, which means it could sit in your driveway with that “for sale” sign on it for months.


Sending a vehicle to an auto auction seem tempting. You don’t have to market the vehicle and you can get it off of your hands quickly. However, you will only get the wholesale value of your car, which is way less than what you can get for selling it privately and still much less than what you can get for a trade-in.


Trading in your vehicle at the dealership you plan to buy from is a great middle-ground option. You get a bit more for your old vehicle, but you don’t have to hassle with selling it yourself. But how do you get the most money back on your trade?


Let’s start with understanding how trade-in value is determined. There are four factors determine the trade-in value:

  • Year: Newer models get the most attention from used-car and truck shoppers. When the salesperson thinks they will be able to sell it quickly, they are more willing to pay a higher price for it.
  • Make and model: If the model holds value or is in high demand, the trade-in amount will be more competitive. Also, keep in mind what makes and models are popular in your area. A small sedan may be very popular in the city, because of space concerns, but it may not be as valuable in the country, where trucks are in much higher demand.
  • Condition: Both the exterior and interior appearance are a component of the vehicle's appraised value. So, vehicles in better repair will fetch a higher trade-in value than those that are damaged and dirty.
  • Mileage: The higher the mileage, the lower the trade-in value. Even if the vehicle's condition is impeccable, a high mileage vehicle may make a consumer less willing to purchase it at a price comparable to other similar vehicles. 

Now that you understand where the value is determined, how do you swing the needle in your favor?

1.   Ensure Maintenance is Up-to-Date:

You don’t need to shell out tons of cash to ensure your maintenance is up-to-date. However, if you put off some regular maintenance or service, now would be the time to address that. If you have gotten any recall notices, make sure that you get those done immediately, for your safety for the remainder of time you drive the car/truck and for the safety of the next driver. Also, dealerships have gotten those notices too and will check to make sure that the necessary repairs were done. Do you have warning lights displaying? Get the issues diagnosed and fixed. If you have copies of your service records, that’s even better!

2.   Do Any Necessary Body Work:

Did you swipe a pole at the drive-thru or in the parking garage at work? Did you get stuck behind a gravel truck that was spitting rocks? If so, now is also the time to repair the dings and paint nicks and scratches. A body shop will charge much less than what a dealer will take off the value on a trade-in. Also, if your car is visibly dirty, take it through the car wash on the way to trade it in. Basically, make sure that the car looks as good as possible on the outside to maximize the value of the trade.

3.   Thoroughly Detail the Interior of the Vehicle:

Now that you have the outside looking good, don’t forget the inside. We all practically live in our vehicles, so they start to show that wear. Just because you think it looks ‘fine’ doesn’t mean the dealership will. Make sure that you vacuum the floors, upholstery, and trunk/hatch area. Remove all the trash and personal items. Clean the windows, doors, dashboard, gauges, handles, levers/gear shifter(s), compartments/glove box, and that area below your rear windshield.


Having a keen attention to detail will mean that you get the best possible trade-in on your old vehicle, which will make buying your new car, truck or SUV just a little more affordable!

Written by:

Beckie Bean

Digital Content Coordinator at Country Truck & Auto

March 24, 2017

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