Trade-in tips

Pre-owned vehicles sit in the Mathews Honda lot in Paris. These vehicles were traded in. One tip to get the most value for a trade-in is to trade a year earlier than planned as newer models fetch a higher value.


When the time comes to purchase a new vehicle, many drivers explore trading in their existing cars or trucks. Trade-ins can reduce the cost of buying new vehicles and save drivers the hassle of selling their vehicles on their own.

“When you trade in your car, you can lower your down payment and you can get a better interest rate,” said Joseph Liggins, sales manager at Mathews Honda of Paris

For those who think trading in is their best option, there are various steps to improve the value of that trade-in.

The market for trade-ins is quickly and constantly developing, with newer, more complex vehicles hitting the market each year. Knowing what the popular features are in a car can help determine how much someone will get for their car. For instance, right now car buyers are looking for smartphone-friendly vehicles that afford them access to the apps and GPS systems on their phones.

Most car buyers prefer the latest car models, so it’s best to trade in a year or so earlier than planned to get the most out of a car.

Address any issues in the car before it is taken to the dealership. Make sure to note any scratches, dents or stains that might not be easily removed. Dealerships will offer to tend to any repairs trade-ins may need, but that will come at a cost, which will be reflected in the trade-in value of the car. Any major problems such as engine troubles should be carefully considered and see if they are worth fixing yourself or letting the dealership take care of it for the owner.

When asked how they handle new trade-ins, Kim Allen, manager of Pyne’s Auto, said: “We drive the vehicle, we do a NADA to see what the vehicle’s worth. We have to check and see if it has new tires. If it needs new tires, that affects the value of the trade-in.”

Drivers should also be aware of depreciation, which is the reduction of car value over a period of time. Depreciation differs between vehicle makes and models, and it can be detrimental to the value of a trade-in.

“Some depreciate when they hit 60,000 miles, and some depreciate when they hit 100,000 miles. The lower the mileage, the more the vehicle is worth. Mileage is very important, but it’s also the condition of the vehicle,” Liggins said.

Maintenance records illustrating that the vehicle was taken care of can help owners get more for trade-ins. Drivers who intend to trade the vehicle in to the same dealership where it was purchased should still keep their own maintenance records to eliminate potential problems as they negotiate the value of their vehicles.

Finding a good value for a trade-in takes patience. Drivers who are dissatisfied with the value assigned by a specific dealership can shop around until they find better offers. Some dealerships may not offer much for a vehicle because they already have a similar car or truck sitting on their lot while others may jump at the chance to make their pre-owned inventory more diverse.

Various factors impact the trade-in value of cars and trucks. When purchasing new cars, vehicle owners can employ various strategies to get the most money for their current automobiles.

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