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Vehicle Trade-In

Car dealers love trade-ins, because they acquire vehicles at a huge discount. They will pay less on a trade than they would at wholesale auction. It also presents them with another opportunity to befuddle and confuse the customer, so they can earn more profits!

When the dealer sizes up your vehicle for the trade, an appraiser will assess an ACV (actual cash value) for your car. His estimate depends on several factors, including current market value, your car's features and much more. You can boost your car's trade-in value by following a few simple steps.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing your vehicle as a trade-in.

  • Detail Your Car. Consider having your car detailed before you present it to the dealer as a trade. Without spending a fortune, you can make the car more attractive to any dealer. They, like anyone else, will appreciate a nice, clean car.
  • Negotiate lease payments and price separately. Once you are settled on a price or lease payment, then start talking about your prefered trade-in value, and prepare for another round of negotiations.
  • Bank Your Trade In. Find out what other dealers will pay for your vehicle, or "bank" your trade-in. Dealers do this all the time. Here's how it works. If you plan on buying a Honda Accord, and have a Ford Explorer to trade-in, after you have the Honda dealer assess your car, call a Ford dealer and ask for an estimate from whoever conducts their wholesale buying. Describe your vehicle honestly, noting any dents, scratches, accidents or mechanical problems you have experienced while owning the vehicle. A Ford Explorer will be of more value to a Ford dealer, than it would be to a Honda dealer, because people are more likely to buy a used Ford from a Ford dealer. Chances are, you will get more money for your trade this way.
  • Watch out for "Pull The Trade" You are negotiating the value of your trade, but suddenly the dealer suggests you either keep your car or sell it on your own. Do they really think you will do either? No. They are hoping you will give in to their trade value rather than face the hassle of selling the car on your own for slightly more profit. The best plan of attack is to stick to your guns - tell the dealer that you are firm in the amount you stated for your trade, and if he can't meet it, you are prepared to find another dealer.
  • Sell it on your own. This not always the easiest solution. You will have to run a classified ad and make appointments for strangers to test drive your car. The advertising costs and time spent dealing with potential buyers, can eat into your profits, but you will earn a great deal more towards your next car purchase.

The Trade Walk

When it comes time to negotiate the price of your trade-in, be prepared to face the "Trade Walk." The dealer even has appraisers trained to squeeze a few more dollars out of you. Here’s how it works…

When your trade-in is being appraised, the dealer makes sure the car is in an area where you can see it. His appraiser will walk around the car, touching any areas that appear to have even the slightest amount of damage. Every time he touches your car he brings out the vehicle's faults, building a mental repair bill in your mind. This decreases your expectations on the trade, and makes a new car seem more desirable.

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