I Want to Trade in My Car. How Much Is My Trade-In Worth?

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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.

, - August 8, 2019

Trading in a car is a great way to meet the down payment requirement that comes with bad credit auto loans. However, knowing how much your trade-in is worth can be tricky. You can see estimates on vehicle valuation sites – and should visit them – but the best way to find out how much your trade-in is really worth is to get it appraised by a dealership.

Finding Your Trade-In’s Value

If you’re looking for a quick way to sell your car, you can use our trusted partner. However, as we said above, you should visit vehicle valuation sites such as NADAguides and KBB.com to see how much your trade-in might be worth.

These are only estimates, though, and are based on information like year, make, model, mileage, and your opinion of the car’s current condition. This is a good place to start, but to get an accurate number for how much your trade-in is worth, you need to have it checked out by a dealer.

This is called getting a vehicle appraised, and any dealership can do it for you. An appraisal gives you an actual cash value, so you know precisely how much a dealer is willing to pay you for it. It’s important you get your trade-in looked at by at least two or three dealerships – and be sure one of them is a franchised dealer that sells your specific make.

CarsDirect Tip: Your trade-in should have equity (when the car is worth more than what you owe on the loan) before you start the process. It may be possible to roll over negative equity (when you owe more on the loan than the vehicle is worth) into a new loan, but some lenders don’t allow this. Even if they do, the new loan is more expensive because you're financing the negative equity, which is a situation we recommend avoiding.

Helpful Tips to Increase Your Trade-In’s Value

Is there a way to increase your trade-in’s value? It’s possible, but not always a guarantee. Here are some tips if you’re looking to increase your car's resale value:

  1. Clean it – You don’t have to get it detailed, but make sure everything is touched up and neat. Vacuum the interior, remove any stains or marks, wipe down all surfaces, and give it a good wash.
  2. Fix small things – Fix any small dents and scratches ahead of time. If your vehicle needs major repairs that cost more than the car is worth, don’t waste your money. The dealership can make repairs at a much cheaper cost once they have your trade-in.
  3. Keep records – Having service records isn’t necessary, but it could help increase your vehicle’s value if you show the dealer that you’ve been following the maintenance schedule.
  4. Timing – Look for dealerships offering promotions, and be mindful of your car’s depreciation if you’re waiting a bit to trade it in. If the vehicle you have was purchased new, try to trade it in when years three or five come around. If you bought it used, try and trade it in before it reaches 100,000 miles to get the most bang for your buck.

Remember, you can walk away if a dealer isn't offering what you're looking for. You can always take it to another dealership, or work to sell the car yourself.

Ready to Trade in Your Car for a New One?

If you do want to trade in your vehicle, you now know how to determine and potential increase your trade-in’s value, but where do you go from there? Even if you have bad credit, you can find the dealer you’re looking for with the help of CarsDirect.

In addition to leasing and traditional financing, we’re teamed up with one of America's largest networks of bad credit car dealerships to help people get new and used auto loans. Simply fill out our no-obligation car loan request form to get the process of getting connected to a local dealer 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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