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Car Trade Values - What Dealers Only Know

Updated on July 28, 2015

Why KBB, NADA and Edmunds Might Not Be Enough

So, the time has come for you to trade in your car, truck or SUV for another. You are proactive and look up expected trade-in values, but you will not get exactly what those online car pricing sources suggest when you arrive at the dealership.

It is true that they will very well offer you more if you put your firm foot down, but often to the detriment of the price of the new vehicle you are buying. Many dealers make up for that additional trade allowance by embedding the price difference in the financing or by selling you packages that you do not need. Take note that is in no way meant to bash all you hardworking car sales folks!

Because dealers populate their used inventory by buying from auctions, they rely on a source called Black Book, which has a better value estimation as the figures are updated according to real-time auction statistics. This pricing guide is not available to the general public, but by being informed about the inner-workings of the industry, you will be better prepared to understand the value of your trade.

It is also important to keep in mind that many factors can affect the value of your trade. For example, if you have a vehicle with many aftermarket modifications such as rims, body kits, suspension, and etc., those tend to make dealers a little leery about your trade. After all, they cannot make guarantees to the next customer that the modifications were done safely and correctly. Reputable dealerships tend to take those modified vehicles and sell them at an auction.

If you are proactive and investigate the vehicle history report on your own, you may uncover critical things that can seriously impact your ability to obtain the most for your car.

I know a lot of folks that begin this process of trading their vehicle by obtaining a free appraisal at a dealership that will not pressure them into a deal. CarMax, a nation-wide retailer of new and used cars, conducts free appraisals on vehicles and they claim that the offer on a trade is the same whether they are just selling the car with- or without purchasing another from their lot. So, it is a starting point and a great education experience in car trading.


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