How do you value my trade in? Info and tips for getting the best offer.

On February 11th, 2015 / By

How do you value my trade in - A man evaluates a black Audi vehicle

So you’ve decided it’s time for a new car and you are planning on trading in your current set of wheels. You may be wondering how a dealership comes up with a value for your trade. Many people think that dealerships just throw out some arbitrary low number and hope it sticks. Contrary to popular belief, there is actually logic and math behind the numbers they come up with. Here are some simple things that dealers look for when they get a car in on trade and some tools they use to come up with the right number.

What process do you use to value my trade in?

One thing dealers must do before they give you a value for your car is to look up comparable vehicles on NADA, Edmunds, and other sites. They check the local market to see how many cars of your make, model, and miles are available, and what they have recently sold for. If you are trading in a Ford Explorer in a market that has just been flooded with Explorers in similar condition, you can probably expect to get less for your trade. The opposite is true for a car in high demand with low availability on the market. Dealers look for inventory at auctions and other dealers in the area before giving you a value on your car.

Next, dealers look at your trade the same way you would look at a car that you are interested in purchasing. The dealer evaluates the condition of the car at the time you bring it in. Many people have a personal attachment to their car, and when they trade it in, they overlook many issues that the dealer cannot look past. When you buy a used car, you typically pay attention to the same things that dealers do. For instance:

  • Does the car have new tires?
  • When was the timing belt replaced?
  • Are there any major blemishes or imperfections to the inside or outside of the car?
  • How many previous owners?
  • Does it have a clean Carfax and has it been in any accidents?
  • Is there any evidence of mechanical, transmission, or electrical issues?
  • Has the car been smoked in?
  • Are any service records available and has the car been serviced at regular intervals?
  • How many miles a year was it driven.


What can I do to ensure that I get the most value for my trade in?

Dealers are just as cautious of issues that may be costly in the long run as you would be. Sales managers only have about 10 minutes to come up with a value for your car, so presenting it in the best possible condition will be key to getting a reasonable value for your car. Resolve any major issues before bringing it in and make sure it is clean and looks well taken care of. Simply running it through the car wash and giving it a quick vacuum will definitely enhance the perception that you cared for your car, which improves its value for obvious reasons. Gathering any available service records and receipts will also be helpful so that the dealer can gain some insight into the history of your car.

After taking into consideration variables such as market value, availability, vehicle condition, and vehicle history, the dealer will come up with a value for your trade. Keep in mind that the dealer will have to incur the costs of any mechanical or cosmetic issues that are present when you trade it in. If you don’t agree with the number they give you, you are always free to counter offer or sell it privately. In the long run, it is up to you to decide whether trading your car is the right choice for you.

Would you like to get started? Check out our “Value Your Trade” page.


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This article was written by Megan Postema, Content Creator at Prestige Imports .

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Phone: 833-825-5424

9201 West Colfax Avenue Lakewood, CO
39.740848 -105.100754
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Prestige Imports
Prestige Imports
9201 West Colfax Avenue
Lakewood, CO, 80215 United States
Prestige Imports 39.740848, -105.100754.