Looking To Trade In Your Car? 2 Things You Should Do Before Heading To The Dealership

When you need a new vehicle, the idea of trading in your car might be incredibly appealing. Instead of listing your vehicle for sale, answering a bunch of calls, and letting strangers take test drives, you might be able to take your car to a dealer and trade it in. However, unless you understand what your car is worth and can prove that you took care of it, you might not get top-dollar for your ride. Here are two things you should do before you head to the dealership: 

1: Head to Your Local Library

If you are like most people, you might assume that you can calculate the value of your car or truck by visiting a few web pages. However, when you arrive at the dealership, the professionals might have a different idea of what your car is worth based off of national sales data, manufacturer's recommendations, and valuation calculations. Wouldn't it be nice if you had access to all of the same documents they use to figure out what to offer you for your car? Believe it or not, you can find most of this information at reference desk at your local library.

Every year, the National Automobile Dealers Association issues two versions of valuation reference manuals: a consumer version and a dealer version. This reference manual, referred to as the "blue book," can help you to determine the value of your car based off of the year it was manufactured, its current condition, and the upgrades it contains. Unfortunately, the consumer version doesn't issue numbers for trade-in deals, which might mean a little confusion during negotiations. However, by sneaking a peek of the dealer's blue book, you can determine what a dealership might offer you for your car. The manual even contains deduction tables based off of the gas efficiency ratings and the number of miles you have driven.

Because these manuals are so valuable, some libraries don't allow patrons to check them out. However, some places will let you make copies of the pages you need to reference, and you can always write down the numbers that are important to you. Before you look at the NADA manual, make sure that you know the exact make, model, year, and upgrade package your car contains so that you can record the right information.

2: Gather Your Maintenance Records

When auto dealers evaluate potential trade-ins, they will try to estimate the condition of the car, the engine, and the tires to calculate their own expenses. The more repairs your car needs, the higher the overhead cost will be for the dealer. However, if you can prove that your car has been babied, dealers might be more willing to offer a high-book value. Before you head to the car dealership, take the time to gather these maintenance records:

  • Repairs: Don't be shy about showing receipts for repairs your car has received. In addition to being able to prove that your car was repaired properly by a reputable mechanic, repairs will show that you addressed issues before they snowballed into bigger problems.  
  • Gas Mileage: If you keep a gas mileage log, bring it with you. Since good gas mileage can act as evidence of a healthy car, knowing your car's average might work in your favor.
  • Tire Rotations: Tires can be expensive, which is why being able to show that your tires were maintained could boost your ride's value. Bring receipts from tire purchases and any repairs so that dealers can estimate the lifespan they can expect from your wheels.

By preparing yourself for the trade-in process, you might be able to make negotiations a little easier and get a better price for your car. For more tips, contact a company that buys and sells used cars to see what they recommend.