Can You Trade in a Buy Here Pay Here Car?

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.

, - April 1, 2019

You can definitely trade in a buy here pay here (BHPH) car, but you need to make sure it’s paid off or has equity. If your trade-in is upside down, and you owe more than it’s worth, the dealer typically isn’t going to accept the vehicle. The good news is you can get yourself out of being upside down and eliminate negative equity.

How to Trade in a BHPH Car With Equity

No matter if you bought your vehicle from a BHPH car lot or a local dealership, the trade in process is generally the same. The first thing you need to do is research your trade-in’s value to see how much it’s worth.

You can visit valuation sites such as NADAguides to get an estimate, or, for more accuracy, get it appraised by at least two dealers or online sellers. Once you have an idea of how much it’s worth, you can move forward in the trade in process.

To trade in your BHPH vehicle, you should do these four things:

  1. Bring in service records – Although not required, showing that you’ve taken care of the car by bringing in service records can increase its trade-in value.
  2. Clean it up – Make sure the inside and outside is tidy and clean before you trade it in. This doesn’t mean you need to have it detailed, but you should be in good shape as long as it looks presentable.
  3. Fix simple problems – Make sure all basic car maintenance is up to date and any minor repairs are fixed.
  4. Discuss your trade-in at the end – Don’t jump the gun on trading in your BHPH vehicle. Wait until the end of the negotiation process so you can focus on just the price of the trade-in.

Keep in mind that dealerships have trade-in specifics. If your car is too old or has higher mileage, it’s possible that even with equity a dealer isn’t going to want it. Make sure you ask about this when getting it appraised.

How to Trade in a BHPH Car With Negative Equity

What happens if you find out your BHPH car is upside down? If you’re considering trading in a vehicle with negative equity, you have three options to consider:

  1. Wait it out – If you don’t need a new car right now, it may be best to wait until the vehicle has equity.
  2. Pay off the difference – If you can’t wait and you have the cash, you can get rid of the negative equity by paying the difference between what you owe and what it’s worth.
  3. Roll it over – Not all lenders allow this, but you could roll over the negative equity into your new loan. Keep in mind that this doesn’t remove the negative equity, and you end up paying for both the old and new loans.

The Bottom Line

As long as your vehicle has equity, meets the dealership’s trade-in requirements, and is in good shape, it doesn’t matter that it’s a buy here pay here car.

If you have a trade-in you want to use as a down payment on your next vehicle, but worry your credit is holding you back from financing, we want to help. At CarsDirect, we work with a nationwide network of special finance dealers, including BHPH dealerships, that can help you get financed.

We can connect you to a dealer in your area that has the subprime lenders you're looking for. Simply filling out our free, no-obligation auto loan request form gets the process started, and it saves you time and stress. Get started right now!


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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.

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