When you trade a car in for a new one, you will not get the book value of your vehicle. You will get the trade-in value. Here are some things you can do to ensure you get the best trade-in possible.
As you may know, the trade-in value will be deducted from the price of the vehicle you wish to purchase. Dealers have a specific set of rules they follow when assessing the worth of a vehicle.
Depending on the age of the auto, they may be thinking about how much they can get at auction. Obviously, they want to make a profit, at least a small one.
The dealer may plan to do some work on your old vehicle and sell it in the used-car lot. Dealers make a higher profit on used cars than they do on new ones, so they are always looking for automobiles to add to the lot.
If your old vehicle is in really bad shape, the dealer might only be able to sell it for salvage or parts. Typically, they will offer a small amount on trades, even if the auto is only salvageable.
Because of all the rules they have to follow and everything they must think about, there's only so much you can do. The first thing you might want to do is look at the Kelley bluebook trade-in value on car makes and models. The guide can be accessed online for free. It will give you an idea of what to expect.
After you get an idea of what you can expect, drive on to the dealer's lot with a clean vehicle. Make sure that the engine is clean, too. Special engine cleaners are available from auto parts stores.
Bring all of your maintenance records with you. The appraiser might not be interested, but if there is a question about when was the last oil change or how often maintenance was conducted, having the paperwork will provide the answer.
The trade-in value on car models is not set in stone. You can negotiate. If the offer seems far below what you expected, you can tell the dealer the amount you want or you can go to another dealer.
Be aware that any major damage or repair work will lower the offer. Scratches or dings will lower the offer, too. It really isn't worth your while to try and cover up a scratch or ding. An experienced appraiser will notice them anyway.
In order to trade a car, you will need a clean title. If you are ready for something new, you might want to bring the title with you.