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Tips On Getting The Most Money For Your Trade-In

No question: When selling your car, you want to get the most money possible.

You can maximize profits by doing a private sale, but you’ll have to place an ad, let strangers drive your vehicle, haggle over the price and deal with the hassle of transferring money once the deal is made.

If just reading that last paragraph exhausts you, consider a dealer trade-in. It could save you time, plus, all that money you make from it can be applied to your next car purchase. (Two birds, one stone.) Another upside: The dealer typically handles transferring the title and the registration paperwork, as well as the payoff of any existing loan on your car.

Used vehicles are welcome at most dealers, so don’t limit yourself to those that sell your car’s make. In 2018, there were more than 40.8 million used-car sales in the U.S., according to Edmunds.

Here’s how to rev up your vehicle’s appeal and get the most cash for your car.

Review your policy.

Know Your Car’s Value

Be a prepared shopper and take advantage of online resources, such as the GEICO Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar, to see what others paid and compare market averages on used-car listings.

To score the best deal on your trade-in, calculate your car’s market value and use that to determine your asking price. Online resources will give you estimates based on the make, year, mileage and condition of your car. Also, factor in the dealer’s gross profit margin (around 12 percent). Take it to a few dealers and compare offers.

Give it a Shine

Presenting a clean car is a simple way to boost offers on your trade-in. Get it detailed, including the engine. Having service records also helps. “A clean car and good maintenance records indicate that you’ve taken care of your car,” says Cari Crane, senior industry analyst for TrueCar.

Be Up Front About Repairs

What if your trade-in vehicle isn’t in the best shape? First, pay for small repairs yourself—e.g., worn brake pads or small blemishes. If you can’t fix what’s wrong, get repair estimates from a mechanic that you can use when you negotiate with the dealer. For example, if a dealer wants to deduct $2,500 from your asking price to replace the brakes and fix the windshield, but you have an estimate of $750 for both, you’re in a better position to negotiate. If the dealer doesn’t budge on the price, consider paying for the repairs yourself to get the maximum amount for your car.

Separate Your Transactions

Negotiate the new or pre-owned vehicle first, then your trade-in. “You’re more likely to get a better deal on the new vehicle by keeping that transaction separate,” says Laurence E. Dixon III, director of market intelligence for the NADA Used Car Guide, a division of J.D. Power.

To get a great deal on your next car, check out the GEICO Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar.

By Anita Slomski

Illustration by Doug Chayka

Read More: How to buy a used car online

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  1. AARON A BURR says,

    I am a 25 year veteran of the car business i have been finance Director general sales manager sales manager i would recommend that you get buy bids from several dealers target the dealers of same brand or similar brand dont bring a honda to a GMC store! Bring the 2 highest to the dealer your purchasing from if your at a one price store make sure you tell they buyer what you want and what you have for bids prior to evaluation once a amount has been given at a 1 price store it is Final they are not allowed to change it ALSO THEY LOOK FOR ANY POSSIBLE DEDUCTION REMEMBER ITS A USED CAR IT IS NOT EXPECTED TO BE PERFECT BOOK PRICES ARE TAKING ACCOUNT FOR AVG WEAR AND TEAR. IF YOU HAVE A PRIVATE BUYER YOU CAN DO A IN AND OUT A THE DEALER YOUR PURCHASING FROM THEY SELL THE CAR TO YOUR BUYER AT YOUR PRICE THEY HANDLE ALL PAPER WORK AND YOU RECEIVE THE TAX SAVINGS AVG SUV 30K @ 8% TAX $2400 DOLLAR SAVINGS DEALER WON’T OFFER YOU HAVE TO ASK! THEY ALSO CAN ARRANGE FINANCIAL SERVICES TO YOUR BUYER

  2. Rick says,

    Keep it.If the dealer pays off your existing loan and then adds up the newer car price. You are going to really be upside down. That Toyota will last past 250K miles if you have taken care of it. Motor that is.

  3. Lisa says,

    I have 2008 Scion TC has a 144967 miles on it I’m looking to trade it for another car I’m the Toyota family I’m scared I still owe 4 grand on the car what should I do