There are more ways than ever to sell your car, but many consumers still prefer the tried-and-true practice of trading their vehicle in to the dealer. Whether they don’t like the hassle of Craigslist, don’t like making their information available to strangers, or live in a state whose tax laws benefit trade-ins, our dealerships still get their fair share of trade-ins despite the rise of private-party internet sales.
Just because trading your car in is the easiest way to monetize your old vehicle doesn’t mean you, the seller, don’t have any say in how much you get for your car. There are a number of factors dealers consider when the value trades, and we asked our team, from sales, service, and finance, what advice they’d give to a friend looking to maximize the value of their trade.
Sam Teran, product specialist and head of Butler Ford’s Fleet sales, operated a used-car lot for years, and is something of a trade-in guru. When it comes to getting more for your trade, Sam says to start with the obvious culprits.
“The first and most important aspect of a trade-in is how it’s been maintained. How does it look, how does it smell, how are its tires, has it been maintained throughout the years? When we take a car in on trade, we will either sell it as a used car, or wholesale it. If we want to sell something on our lot, it has to be exceptional, so we’ll need to pay for repairs on anything that isn’t quite right. If the car you trade in will cost us more to get beautiful than we can make selling it, we’ll sell it wholesale and make less money. So if you bring us a trade that needs less work, we’ll pay more for it every time.”
Dustin, who cleans and details all the vehicles we get in on trade, has some fairly simple advice.
“If you have animals in your car and then trade it in, I have to clean out anything you don’t. When a car comes in that looks like a dog was just groomed in it, that’s actually some serious man-hours before it can be put on the lot. So you might want to consider vacuuming it yourself so the dealership doesn’t have to pay someone to.”
Drew Bechard, who recently became a Finance Manager after years in our sales team, has our favorite advice for customers looking to trade in their vehicle:
“Make your car look as nice as you think it is.”
At the end of the day, a vehicle is only worth what the buyer is willing to pay. We hope this advice helps you raise that number a little, even if it means we’re paying you more for your trade.