“I want to trade in my car but want the most money possible for it. Help!”

Like many car shoppers intent on upgrading their rides, you probably have some trepidation about the whole vehicle trade-in process—particularly when it comes to those important dollar signs and decimal places. To get the most cash back for your trade-in, you’ll need more than just a bit of “right place, right time” luck. Follow these secret tactics to get more money when trading your car in at a dealership.  

1. Clean It Inside & Out

Would you want to buy a car that looks like a four-wheeled trash can? We think not. Even if that vehicle ends up being the best trade-in the dealership’s ever bought, you’re undoubtedly leaving money on the table by refusing to pick up a vacuum and sponge. Dealers will undoubtedly knock cash off any deal if you haven’t taken the due diligence of cleaning your vehicle. First impressions are everything.

2. Get Auto Body Repairs

Similarly, if your vehicle has some nasty dings, dents, or scratches, consider letting an auto body shop get to work. Body damage on a vehicle may be an indication that its owner is careless, lazy, or some mixture of the two. (Of course, those are not the only reasons someone would avoid getting auto body repairs done, but you get the gist.)

3. Bring Your Repair Receipts

Any work done on your car, including general service and auto maintenance, should be documented. Bringing your receipts with you to the dealership will only help your case and get you more money for your trade-in. 

4. Always Research Resale Values

You wouldn’t sell your house without first researching comparable sold homes in the area, would you? The same logic applies to your trade-in. Understanding the baseline resale price of your vehicle gives you the proper ammunition to head into war, aka. the negotiation table. 

5. Let Dealers Give You a Price

I don’t know. You tell me what this is worth.” Never, ever be the first to bring up your car’s resale value—even if you know what it’s worth. Many car salespeople will attempt to draw that price out of your lips first, which allows them to lowball you. 

However, if you absolutely know the value of your car and won’t go any lower, be direct about these terms. Some salespeople will respect this and work with you. Just use your best judgment when making this choice. 

6. Trade In When It’s “Primetime” 

Different vehicles are valued differently in different places and at different times of the year. Capisce? Here are a few examples:

  • A convertible won’t be as sought-after in places like Alaska or Seattle, but they certainly do well here in Phoenix, Arizona, no matter the season.
  • Used AWD/4WD SUVs like the Honda Pilot or CRV will sell better in the winter months, as will trucks like the Ridgeline.
  • Used minivans like the Honda Odyssey are popular purchases right before summer, which coincidentally coincides with summer vacation and road trips. (Who knew?)
  • Dealers like to purchase trade-in vehicles of popular models right before the newest model comes out, as shoppers tend to balk at the new-car MSRPs.
  • Trading in a used vehicle that’s fairly new – within 3 to 5 model years – may make it an eligible ‘certified’ pre-owned vehicle, which means more moolah for you.

7. Mention Your Trade-In After Negotiating a New Car

 Always treat your new purchase and trade-in as separate sales—and don’t let your dealer know about the trade-in until you’ve already negotiated the price of your new car. This allows you to get the maximum amount off the purchase price before negotiating the trade-in value. 

Here’s an excellent overview of this age-old sales tactic. 

8. Call Multiple Dealers for Trade-In Estimates

A trade-in appraisal is, frankly, an opinion that’s based on several factors. Dealers in certain regions may value your specific model higher than another dealer just across town; this could be due to supply and demand in the area, past sales history, certified preowned opportunities, or something else.  Therefore, it’s important to get second, third, and even fourth opinions about your car’s trade-in value.

9. Remove Aftermarket “Stuff”

That killer spoiler is really popular in your inner circle, but it certainly won’t sell itself when you head to the dealership. A customized car is personal, and it’s difficult for car dealers to sell “personal.” Dealers may also see the extra labor to remove those parts at the dealership as a net-loss, meaning you’ll be eating that cost in the appraisal and trade-in quote. 

10. You’re the Salesperson – Act the Part!

When you decide to trade in your vehicle at a dealership, you’re the one in the driver’s seat. Step into the shoes of your salesperson and be aggressive about your terms, limits, and expectations. If there’s any pushback from the dealership’s sales team, don’t be afraid to walk away.  

If you have any questions about trading a car in Arizona, let us know! With multiple car dealerships in AZ, our Phoenix Valley Honda Dealers are here to help. Contact a used Honda dealer near you to get a tradein estimate, search for a replacement vehicle, or discuss your used car loan options.