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How to Get the Best Deal when Trading in a Car

After years of faithful service, or constant visits to the local mechanic, there comes a time when every car must be retired in favor of something newer and better. That could mean another used car in cleaner condition or a brand-new vehicle that is cutting edge and likely to last a decade or more. Used cars are less expensive but also less reliable. Whichever you end up choosing, the process of getting cash for cars is rarely as simple as pulling into the dealership lot.

The first step every car owner should take when trading in a car is to decide what he or she wants to purchase in its stead. A mother or father might choose a practical wagon, while a business professional may want a luxury sedan. Pick a budget range and stick to it, researching every prospective car carefully and narrowing your list down one by one. There is no need to pick just one at this stage, unless you find a clear front-runner.

2013 Honda Accord Coupe

Before beginning to shop around for someone to buy your old car, carefully assess its flaws and come up with a reasonable estimate of its value. Some makes and models age more gracefully than others, and a few vehicles are in such demand that they command far more than the rest of their class. Start by heading outside and noting any scratches, dents or chipped paint. Write down each one as well as its severity. Next, examine the interior for ripped upholstery, missing electronics, stains, smells and any other mishap that has happened in the line of duty. Finally, fire up the engine and take it for a quick spin to assess the power train. Strange noises, a rough idle and poor shifts are all warning signs to potential buyers.

Once armed with this knowledge, use a service such as Kelley Blue Book to get a rough estimate of your car’s value. Before meeting with anyone, wash the exterior and interior thoroughly to show it off to its best advantage. With a ballpark number in mind, you can begin shopping around for offers. It might be best to sell the car privately, or you may find that a dealership is willing to pay more in exchange for your business. If that is the case, it should make picking your prospective new car easier. When selling privately, the transaction is fairly simple. Once the buyer pays, the car is transferred through an authorized individual and both parties head their separate ways. You are then free to use the money as a down payment.

Dealership trade-ins are a more complicated affair. To understand why dealers offer the prices they do, it is important to consider it from their perspective. A lot full of beige Honda Accords isn’t going to pay much for another one, whereas a shortage drives up prices. Similarly, every bit of damage lowers a car’s chances of selling, making a particularly used vehicle an unattractive buy. Beyond the base value, dealerships usually try to make at least $1000 in profit, which will be factored into the offer. Try different dealerships, even within the same manufacturer, to find the best deal. In truly desperate circumstances, when no one will buy a very old or worn model, it is still possible to get cash for cars at the nearest scrap yard.

The benefits of trading in lie in its simplicity and lower sales taxes. When selling a car privately, the buyer pays a tax, and you do the same when buying your new model. Trade-in prices are deducted from the final sale total, meaning you end up paying less. Besides that, there is no hassle of working with flaky individuals, setting up a transaction, filling out the paperwork and then arranging for a ride home. Trading in is as fast as driving to the dealership, reaching a final agreement and then leaving in your new car.

Inside, the salesman helping you will first want to verify the cars in question and the agreed-upon sum for both. Then it is time to talk money. Your loan terms are largely determined by the car you buy and your credit history, so be sure to take care of any outstanding bills and payments before applying for financing. After a loan is secured, the rest is largely paperwork, but the dealership assumes most of it and you should be able to head out within an hour or two. Trading in isn’t always the best option when upgrading, but it makes sense in most cases and can save you both time and money. If you are ready for a change, start researching what’s available in your area today.

About Zilko Radovic

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