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How to Trade In A Vehicle

Trade In A Vehicle

Are you considering trading in a vehicle at a dealership but not sure where to start? We can help.

Our team at Star Auto Sales in Meriden, CT has taken all the guesswork out of the vehicle trade-in process so you won't feel overwhelmed. Use this guide to familiarize yourself with the terminology and simplify your vehicle trade-in experience.

What is a Trade-in Vehicle?

A trade-in vehicle is one that you offer to a dealership in exchange for credit toward the price of a vehicle that you're purchasing.  Any vehicle that has value can be a trade-in vehicle.  The amount that you receive for the trade-in can vary greatly among vehicles, depending on many factors, such as mileage, which determine its value.

Benefits of Trading A Vehicle

Trading in your car at a dealership is a lot easier than trying to sell it privately. When you trade in your vehicle at a dealership, you’re eliminating the time commitment and expenses involved in finding a buyer on your own.  Other benefits of trading in your vehicle include:

  • One-stop transaction for your old and new cars
  • Dealership completes all registration and paperwork
  • Dealership assumes all liability for the trade-in vehicle’s condition and reliability
  • Saves you money on sales tax

What to Bring With You to Trade in Your Vehicle

To save time and ensure that the trade-in process goes smoothly, bring the following with you when you head to the dealership:

  • Vehicle Title
  • Auto Loan Payoff (if applicable)
  • Driver’s License
  • All vehicle keys & key fobs
  • Current and Valid Registration
  • Service Records and Owner's Manuals
What to Bring for your trade appraisal.

Trade-In Value

It’s always a good idea to find out what your vehicle is worth before you go to a dealership.

Gary LaPointe, Finance Manager at Star Auto Sales in Meriden, CT recommends that you research the value of your vehicle by using appraisal websites.  You can get the Fair Market Value of your trade-in by visiting websites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.  Be sure to give an honest description of your car's condition.

Though most used cars are kept in decent repair, very few are truly in excellent condition.  A good rule of thumb when using appraisal websites is to subtract for poor vehicle condition, wear and tear, or excessive mileage. An honest appraisal will give you a more accurate price and give you a realistic idea of what the trade-in value will be.

It should also be noted that the value provided by appraisal websites will not be the exact amount a dealership will offer you for your trade. The exact trade-in value will be determined by the dealership upon their physical inspection of your vehicle.  Most car dealerships will only offer you the wholesale price for your trade-in vehicle. This is typically less than what you can sell the vehicle for yourself, but it saves you a lot of headaches.

Trade-In Appraisal

The trade-in value offered at a dealership after an appraisal can vary depending on many factors. These include the vehicle’s condition, the number of miles it has been driven, its chance of selling, where you live, and more.  Mileage and condition of the vehicle are the biggest variables when it comes to valuing your trade.  A well-maintained car will get you more at trade-in than one that was badly cared for.  Any cosmetic damage, inoperable equipment or missing items on your car will lower its trade-in value.

Take a serious look at your trade vehicle, inside and out.  Assess damage such as scratches, dings, dents, rips, tears and burns.  Are there any warning lights on?  Is anything not functional in the vehicle such as the windows or the radio?  Be realistic about your vehicle's condition.

Be able to answers questions about maintenance and repairs.  Review when your last brake job was or when your tires were replaced.  Bring copies of any service records with you.  This information will help you get the greatest value for your trade vehicle.

Was your vehicle in an accident?  It is better to be up-front about this. Dealerships will run a Carfax report to see if your trade-in has been in an accident, which will affect their offer.

Trade In Visual Inspection

Star Auto Sales Trade-In Appraisal Process

The trade-in appraisal process may vary slightly at each car dealership, but the principles are basically the same.  The entire process can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

Here at Star Auto Sales, we are committed to providing an honest trade-in appraisal.  Here's how it works:

One of Star Auto Sales appraisers will physically inspect your car.  Our appraisal process usually takes 20 minutes and includes a test drive and a thorough inspection that assesses:

  • Year, Mileage, Make and Model
  • Exterior and Interior condition
  • Tires
  • Windshield
  • Condition of Engine and Transmission
  • Frame and Flood Damage
  • Options, Features, and Modifications
  • Vehicle’s History Report

We, then, analyze the collected information about your trade car and make you an offer for your vehicle.

Trade In Appraisal Factors

What if You Owe Money on the Trade Vehicle?

Trading your car is simple if you own the vehicle outright, but if you still owe money on the vehicle you want to trade, there are some things you should know.

First, check to see if you owe money on the vehicle you are planning to trade in.  A lot of people think they can use the trade vehicle as a down payment.  However, if they owe more than the vehicle is worth, they have no equity available and a down payment may be required.  If you owe LESS than the vehicle is worth, you can put the car toward your down payment.

Next, you need to know which bank your trade vehicle is financed with.  The dealership has no way of knowing this.  Check to see who you make a payment to each month and have that information with you when you visit the dealership.

Contact that bank and get a ten-day payoff.  This amount may be different than what is on your statement every month, due to interest.  If you shop for longer than ten days, you will need to update this information.  The bank generally gives you a date that the information will be good for.

Why Choose Star Auto Sales To Trade In Your Vehicle?

Our expert team at Star will deliver a fast and straightforward appraisal and provide guidance through each step of the trade-in process.  We pride ourselves on treating people the right way.  From buying to financing to trade-ins, we work hard to make sure your needs are met at a price that works for you.  You’ll be welcomed by our friendly and experienced Star Auto Sales Team, who will assist you with a hassle-free vehicle trade-in.

We welcome any questions or concerns you may have.  Feel free to reach out to us online or by phone in advance of your visit; or simply bring your questions, your vehicle and your necessary paperwork with you when you’re ready to move forward with your trade-in.

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