Trading in a Car with Problems

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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.


, - July 27, 2018

If your car’s engine blows, it can cost well over $5,000 to replace it, depending on the vehicle. If you’ve had this car for some time, and realize that the automotive repairs will cost more than what the vehicle’s worth, you may be wondering if trading it in is an option. It ultimately depends on the dealer, and while most won’t want to take in a non-running car, some are willing to let you trade it in, but at a much lower price.

Trading in a Car that Needs Repairs

There are trade in do's and don’ts that you should consider when it’s time to trade in your vehicle. Basic maintenance such as getting the oil and other fluids changed and checking your tires should always be done before you attempt to trade it in.

However, if your car needs extensive repairs done – such as replacing/repairing an engine – the general consensus is that you shouldn’t pay for the repair(s). Even if you’re able to fix some things yourself, you may not see much of a return in value when you trade the vehicle in. So, that begs the question, will dealerships accept trade-ins that need really expensive repairs done?

Do Dealerships Take Damaged Cars?

While some dealerships may take your broken-down trade-in, they can be difficult to find. This is because dealerships are businesses, and they buy cars that they can resell at a profit. If you plan on buying a vehicle from the dealership you’re selling your car to, they may be more willing to consider taking in your trade. But, be aware that what they offer you will likely be lower than what you might expect.

If you’re not sure what your vehicle’s current value is, you can check sites such as NADA Guides to see the price range your car should fall in. While this is a good starting point in the trade-in process, each dealership has its own specific appraisal formula they use. If they won’t take the trade-in, and you’re set on buying a vehicle, you might consider replacing the engine yourself or taking it to a lot that accepts non-running cars, or even selling it to a junkyard.

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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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