How to trade in your car to a dealership

How to trade in your car to a dealership

The time has come for you to buy a new car. Your current car is in need of a serious upgrade and so you have started to research “car dealerships near me” in the hopes of finding your dream car. But you have to trade in your current wheels first. You could sell it or you could trade it into your dealership. If you are not sure how this would work, below is some helpful advice on how to trade in your car to a dealership.

Estimate your car’s value

Before you go into a dealership to trade in your car, you should know how the prices are calculated. This is so you can get the best deal possible. Below are the different terms you will hear when speaking to your car dealer.



  • Retail price: The retail price is the price that you pay when you buy it from a dealership. The selling price is the trade-in price plus the dealer’s profit/mark-up. If you sell your car privately, you can ask for retail price but it is unlikely you will match what you paid for your car originally.




  • Trade-in price: The trade-in price is the price that the dealer will pay you for the car. This amount will go towards paying off your finance or you can use it towards buying your new car.




  • Book value: Your dealer might talk about the “book value” or the “blue book value” of the car. This refers to the industry-accepted dealer valuation upon which they will base their price offering to you.



Usually, the dealership you choose to trade in at will use the book value to come up with a price for your car. You can do your own online research before you go to see any dealers so you are sure you will get the best price.

Fix any issues

While you do not have to give your old car a complete makeover, it is important that you fix any issues before looking for “car dealerships near me” in your next Google search. This is because any damage to your car can cause it to have a lower trade-in rate.


You should take your car to a valet to get it cleaned both inside and out, not forgetting the small details like shampooing the carpets and seat covers. You can ask a panel beater to repair any dents and buy touch up paint to conceal scratches. Cosmetic fixes are important to dealers, as they will not have to waste time and money doing it themselves. You should also get any engine problems fixed.

Timing is key

If you are planning on trading in your petrol-guzzling 4×4, you might want to wait to see what the petrol prices are doing. People generally avoid buying cars with low fuel efficiency when the petrol price has been increased. Similarly, if you are planning on trading in a convertible, the dealer will have trouble selling it during a rainy season.


It is best to take note of the time of year you are wanting to trade-in, as well as watch what is happening in the economy. You will also need to look at how far along you are to finishing repaying your vehicle finance, as this could impact the price that the dealership gives you. Time your trade-in right so that you get the best deal possible.

Look around for the best dealership

Once you have found out where the dealerships are that accept used cars in Gauteng, you will need to find the best dealership to meet your needs. Do not stop at one dealership, rather get three to four quotes from different ones and compare them to find the best deal.

Choosing only one dealer will limit your options, especially when it comes to looking for a new car. Once you have looked at different dealers and seen what they have to offer, you will better be able to make a decision. Think of it in the same way you would as buying a car: you want the best deal you can find, one that will give you the money you need to afford your new car.

Trade in and trade up

Trading in your car is not a difficult process. Once you have calculated your car’s value, you can go out and look for a dealership that is ready and willing to offer you the price you want. It is important to do your research beforehand so that you are aware of all the terminology involved in the deal, and you should clean and fix your car before showing it to the dealership. Once you have found the right dealer for you, negotiate the price. Soon you will find yourself driving off  into the sunset in your brand new car.


Authored by: mjones

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