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Maybe one of the most important times in the life of your current car is understanding “when should I trade car or truck in?” Should I trade it in within a specific time? Is there such a thing as too many miles? Does it have to be in perfect condition? It probably won’t surprise you to figure out there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. But, we’ve got some advice to help you figure out what time is the best time to trade in your car, truck, or SUV.
This is generally the first thing car owners wonder. Considering that most of us assume that the only way to get top value for their car is to do it on their own versus trading it for a newer car. However, there are some things to think about when attempting to decide if you should trade your car or just sell it separately.
Selling a vehicle can take weeks or longer; especially if your car is not in great condition. The seller would be accountable for every single part of the sale transaction, from creating an ad to scheduling test drives, to arguing the price, and everything in between. On the other hand, trading a car generally takes place at the time you get your new car.
Typically the seller is accountable for the necessary paperwork, such as registration and the title. For the inexperienced seller, this may be a frustrating and long process if there are unexpected challenges connected to the paperwork, like a lien. The dealership is ready to do all of the paperwork, including surprises.
One of the most notable benefits to trading in your vehicle is the potential tax savings in states with a state sales tax. In these states, there is a tax credit applied to the new vehicle’s sales tax if you trade in a car at the same place they purchase a new one. Simply, the taxes are applied to the price difference after the trade-in price is calculated into the new car price. The tax credit savings can reach the high hundreds and even thousands of dollars, depending on the vehicle you’re buying.
There are many opinions on this, especially since newer cars are designed for higher mileage usage. But, there is a nearly universal agreement of the following three mileage milestones to think about when trading in your vehicle:
This is the time when most new car warranties typically expire. Conversely, this is also when the first major replacement of ‘wear’ items, like tires or brakes, are usually done on vehicles. The depreciation of your vehicle will usually start to increase faster after this milestone, so the nearer your vehicle is to this mileage range, the better your trade-in value options will likely be.
Depending on usage, a vehicle that gets to this mileage will generally be 3 to 5 years old and most likely has been well taken care of. As the miles add up, the value of the vehicle tends to get lower so owners need to take this into account when considering their trade-in.
It’s true that hitting this mileage isn’t nearly the automotive death notice that it was in the past thanks in part to advancements in modern technology. But, the higher the mileage a vehicle has, the greater the depreciation in all but the most pristinely kept cars. Anything within this mileage can still have a positive trade-in value even though it isn’t in perfect condition. The condition of the car is definitely looked at more closely as the miles increase on your odometer.
Finally, a crucial piece of trading in the car is being ready for the trade-in evaluation. These recommendations are not the only ideas, to be sure, they can definitely help you get the most value out of your car.
This should be a no-brainer, but many people think that showing their car ‘as-is’ is a more honest approach to a trade-in evaluation. While we do not advocate trying to hide blemishes or problems with the vehicle (spoiler alert, they will see through those attempts anyway), it is always a good idea to clean up your vehicle before bringing it to the dealership for evaluation. This includes removing all debris and trash from inside the vehicle (yes, even including the trunk), washing and vacuuming the exterior and interior, and perhaps even doing a nice detailing. Just think of the appraiser as a potential buyer of your vehicle and clean the vehicle accordingly.
We get that repairs can be overwhelming, especially for major mechanical issues. But, if it is possible to repair minor dings, chips in the paint, and cracks in the various windshield, mirrors, and windows, all of those cosmetic repairs will go a long way towards improving the price of your trade. When possible, we suggest repairing any mechanical problems the vehicle may have. The better the condition, the higher the trade-in value will be.
If you have decided trading in your car is the best decision, then we suggest coming here with all of your car’s paperwork, which includes the title (if you have it), registration, any maintenance logs you have, and keys you have for the vehicle. Arrive ready to trade-in your vehicle and you will not be delayed in driving away in your new vehicle.
Considering trading in your small sports car or crossover for a new one? Santa Fe MINI provides the help you need to get the best value for your trade-in. Call us to schedule an appointment or visit our dealership to get started.