Tip Guide: Sell Your Trade-In To The Dealership


In the process of buying a vehicle at a dealership, there are certain things that have to be done to arrive at the bottom line price, and finally that monthly payment you are trying to achieve.  One such thing is getting your trade-in appraised for its value.  This is often a time of anxiety for the consumer because generally you are left alone while this process takes place.  You may or may not have a number in your mind, but either way it can be nerve racking.

Trading your car to a dealership should not be any different than selling it out of the newspaper or online.  If you have ever done this, it is only natural to tell your prospective buyer all the good things about your vehicle.  He or she will have questions, and only you have the answers.  It is a necessary part of selling your car to someone shelling out his or her hard earned money.  So why would it be any different at a car dealership?

Early in my career in the retail car business, I always loved it when the owner of the car came over to me to tell me about his or her car and how he or she had cared for it.  This was important info since this was a time prior to vehicle history reports.  Heck, at that time, vehicle Identification numbers only had ten letters and numbers, versus seventeen like now. 

When any customer came over with his or her story, included the receipts for maintenance, and often his or her memories of things associated with that car, I couldn’t help but give him or her extra money for it.  After all, we now had stories to tell prospective buyers. 

When you go into a dealership to trade cars, as I have told my listeners for years, you have the power.  Some dealers will look at you like you’re crazy if you say “I want to go with you to talk to the appraiser”.  Frankly, it is not done often, which is exactly why you should do it.  Talk about making an impression!

With that said, if you have a ten-year old car with well over 100,000 miles, this is not likely to be effective.  However, if your car is under five years old, in good shape, and average or lower mileage, you have a valuable commodity and you want to pull out all the stops to make sure you get top-dollar for your asset.

If you know for sure it has never been in a wreck, say so.  Have your maintenance records in plain sight and go through them very briefly.  If you have done anything within the past six months, like new tires, make sure those are pointed out.  If you have two sets of keys and remotes (if applicable) let the appraiser know that.  Lastly, have your car standing tall…clean inside and outside, and car dealers love tire dressing, so throw some on your car before driving it in.

You want to make sure the appraiser, usually the used car manager, really wants your car for resale.  If he or she does, you’ll get top dollar for it.  Incidentally, if your salesperson tells you it is against their policy to let you speak to the appraiser, thank him or her for their time and head to your car, you are at the wrong dealership. 

Remember, you have the power.

Photo Copyright: Roman Seliutin/Shutterstock
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