What to Know Before Trading In Your Vehicle

December 1st, 2022 by

If your vehicle isn’t running as it used to and you’re ready to upgrade your ride, it’s a great time to consider trading it in. A trade-in is a transaction that allows you to receive credit toward the purchase price of a new car by giving the dealer your old vehicle. Sure, you could sell your vehicle yourself, but do you want to deal with the time and stress of a private sale?

Trading in your car is a great way to secure a good deal and lower your monthly car payment without all the hassle. With proper preparation, the process can be even easier. Meadowland GMC guides you on what you should do before trading in your car.

Touch Up Your Old Ride

When you’re trading in your vehicle, attention to detail is important. Before heading to a dealership, ensure your vehicle is in good shape. The physical and mechanical conditions of your vehicle are the most important factors that affect the value of your car.

If you have minor cosmetic issues such as scratches or small dents, it’s a good idea to invest a small amount of money in fixing them. Doing a thorough cleaning can also go a long way. If your vehicle has serious problems, such as transmission or engine issues, it’s better to sell it as is to the dealer. They’ll have the necessary skills and resources to fix these issues at a lower cost. A well-maintained vehicle will fetch a better price but don’t pay more to fix the vehicle than it’s worth.

Know the Value of Your Car

Do your homework and find out the value of your vehicle. Before you start negotiating with the dealer, you should know how much your car is selling for. This can help you feel empowered and make an informed decision regarding your trade-in.

You can use free online tools, such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds, to determine the worth of your vehicle. These sites can help you estimate the value of your car based on various factors, such as its make, model, year, and mileage. Involvement in a major accident or having a salvage title are the most common things that could prevent you from getting a good price for your trade-in. However, if the market for your vehicle is competitive, it might be worth more, regardless of condition.

Get Multiple Offers

Before you start negotiating, get multiple trade-in quotes. This strategy can help you leverage your position during negotiating. Depending on the condition of the car and the dealer’s inventory, your trade-in offer might vary. Use the highest offer as the basis for the negotiation.

Ensure that the trade-in and sale prices align with those featured in online pricing guides. Try to get all offers in writing. If you want to negotiate for a higher price, you can use the documents you have available to back up your offer and prove the value of your car.

Gather Your Documents

Before you can officially trade in your car, you’ll need to provide the following documents.

  • Car title: If you own the vehicle, you’ll need to bring the title to confirm you have the authority to transfer ownership. You can contact the dealership to get a replacement if you lose the title.
  • Registration: Whether you paid off the vehicle or not, the registration can serve as proof of ownership.
  • Maintenance records: You should also bring maintenance records, which can prove that you took the necessary care of your vehicle. Having these documents can help you get a higher price for the car.
  • Loan information: If you’re still paying off the loan, you should bring the necessary documents, such as the lender’s account number and the amount of money left after the loan has been paid.

Don’t feel obligated to get a vehicle history report — the dealers will pull one themselves. You should also bring spare keys and other vehicle-related accessories. Dealers will not give you the full credit for your trade-in if you don’t have these items.


All of the previous steps have led up to this moment: the negotiation. Gathering all the necessary information before stepping into the dealership gives you a better chance of snagging a good deal. Bring in those valuable documents and try targeting the end of the month to see if the dealer will be more willing to give you a more attractive offer. Look for special promotions, like a dealership offering a cash-back on your used car during a trade-in event.

You can negotiate the terms of your trade-in and purchase agreement separately to ensure you get the best possible value for your vehicle. Don’t be afraid to walk away if you think you aren’t getting a good deal for your trade-in.

Close the Deal

Get all of the details of the deal in writing. You’ll want to carefully review the contract to confirm that the numbers are correct. The amount you agreed to when you traded in should also be included in the contract. In some states, the difference between the new and the old car can be considered a sales tax credit. This means you’re not paying more taxes on the new car.

Pay attention to the price of your new vehicle. Any equity from the trade-in will be credited toward the purchase of the car. You’ll have to pay the negative equity if you’re still upside-down on your loan. You can handle this situation in several ways, including making a cash payment on the difference or rolling the equity into the new loan. After reviewing your contract, handling any issues, and signing on the bottom line, you can drive off in your brand-new car.

It’s worth researching to ensure you get the most out of your trade-in. We hope this guide helps you feel prepared to start the process. Do you know any good tips for trading in your vehicle? Contact our team and let us know. If you feel ready to take the leap and trade in your old car, our helpful sales associates are here to assist you.


Posted in Car Buying Tips