Young lady successfully negotiating vehicle trade-in

How to get the best car trade-in deal

Everything you need to know to get the best possible price when trading in your car.

You’ve found the perfect new car and you’re ready to buy, but before you can get behind the wheel, there’s just one obstacle you need to overcome: negotiating the best trade-in price for your current car.

Unfortunately, car dealers will never offer you a premium price when you trade in a vehicle, and they’ve got plenty of sales and negotiating tricks up their sleeve to help sway the deal in their favour. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to ensure that you get the best possible car trade-in deal.

Trading in vs selling privately

When you’re buying a new car and you need to get rid of your current vehicle, there are two main options available: trade the car in or sell it privately. Trading it in is a quick and convenient option and can allow you to negotiate a better sale price on your new car. Instead of going through the hassle of trying to find a buyer, you can take care of selling one car and buying another all in the one transaction.

However, you will need to accept the fact that trading it in won’t get you the best price. Generally speaking, you’ll secure a better price if you sell your car privately, giving you more buying power when searching for your next set of wheels.

On the downside, selling privately can be a lot of hard work. From taking care of maintenance issues and getting the necessary roadworthy certificates to the often-painful chore of dealing with potential buyers, private sales can be time-consuming and stressful, and sometimes it’s just not worth the effort.

Which option is right for you?

  • Consider selling privately if your car is new or highly sought-after. This should help you get a fair price.
  • Consider trading in if your car is a common model, needs some repair/maintenance work done or has a lot of kilometres on the clock. This will help you avoid the additional cost of preparing the vehicle for sale privately as well as the time and effort of actually finding a buyer.

Getting the best trade-in price

If you decide to trade in your vehicle, there’s plenty you can do to ensure that you get the best possible price from your chosen dealer. In fact, you can start taking steps to maximise your trade-in deal long before you even think about upgrading to a new car.

How to get the best car trade-in deal: Before you think about selling

The simplest way to maximise your car’s resale value is to take good care of it.

  • Get it serviced regularly. Book your car in for regular servicing at the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. Make sure you record each service in the car’s logbook so you can provide it to the next buyer as proof the car has been well maintained.
  • Stay on top of repair and maintenance issues. If there’s a funny noise in the engine, get it seen to by a licensed mechanic. If you’re involved in a bingle, get the car repaired by a licensed and reputable smash repairer. Ensure that you regularly clean the car inside and out, so it will still be in the best possible shape when it comes time to sell.
  • Drive it like you own it. If you look after your car when you own it, you’ll increase your chances of getting a better trade-in price. So don’t thrash your vehicle to within an inch of its life and then expect a premium price from the dealer; treat it right and you’ll reap the benefits in the future.

Preparing your car for trade in

man washing his carSome new car buyers rock up at the dealership without giving any thought to how their current vehicle looks. So if it’s scratched and dinged, been parked under a tree that is hosting a flock of pigeons and hasn’t been washed in months, it’s hardly going to look like an attractive trade-in prospect to the dealer.

With this in mind, it’s important to get your car into the best possible shape before stepping up to the negotiating table.

  • Wash your car. First impressions count, so give your car a thorough wash to make sure it’s gleaming from every angle. A quick run through the automatic car wash at your local servo often isn’t enough, so you will need to give it a good scrub yourself.
  • Clean the interior. It’s also essential to give the inside of your vehicle a thorough clean. Give all surfaces a wipe down to eradicate any stains, and remove all rubbish and personal items from the car.

Negotiating with the dealer

This is the part where most people trip up. While you’re keen to get behind the wheel of your new car as soon as possible, the dealer sitting across from you is a professional negotiator who needs to do whatever he can to get the best possible deal for himself. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure that you get the best trade-in deal:

  • Do your research. How can you know if you’re getting a good deal if you don’t know what a fair price is for your car? The knowledge of how much your car is worth will give you power at the negotiating table, so try to find out how much you can expect to receive when you trade in. Automotive data services like RedBook and Glass’s Guide can, for a fee of about $20, provide you with an online valuation of your vehicle, including private, dealer and trade-in values. You can also look at private sale prices for your make and model, remembering that trade-in values will usually be lower than private sale values.
  • Know the tactics. Dealers are experts when it comes to buying and selling cars, so familiarise yourself with some of the more common negotiating tactics they may use. For example, don’t be surprised if the dealer claims your car won’t be easy to sell, or that they’re doing you a favour by taking it off your hands – these are tactics designed simply to maximise their profit on the transaction.
  • Use your own negotiating skills. Instead of laying all your cards on the table straight away, you might want to negotiate on the sale price of the new car separately to the trade-in price. Once you’ve reached a reasonable purchase price for the new vehicle, tell the dealer that you’d also like to trade in your current car and that the right price will seal the deal.
  • Shop around. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a better trade-in deal. You might be surprised just how much more you can get from a different dealer, so look elsewhere if you’re not happy with the price offered.
  • Focus on the changeover price. One final, all-important tip to remember is that the trade-in price you got for your vehicle does not determine whether you got a good deal. You need to look at the changeover price for your new car – that is, the purchase price of your new car minus the trade-in price of your current car. While one dealer may offer the best trade-in price, if their price for a new car is more expensive then they may not offer the best deal overall.

Ready to trade-in but need finance? Here are some products you can compare today

Rates last updated February 20th, 2018
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Monthly Service Fee Application Fee Product Description Monthly Repayment
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From 5.49% (fixed)
6.62%
$18,000
1 to 10 years
$7
$499
Benefit from a car broker with over 25 years experience
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan
From 5.69% (fixed)
5.97%
$25,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$175
A great rate for cars under 2 years old.
bcu Special Car Loan
5.9% (variable)
6.82%
$5,000
1 to 5 years
$8
$250
Benefit from a competitive rate when you take out a bcu Access Account.
RACV New Car Loans
From 6.49% (fixed)
7.03%
$15,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$380
A competitive rate car loan from RACV with no monthly fees and 5-hour loan approval.
IMB New Car Loan
From 5.99% (fixed)
6.34%
$2,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$250
Borrow up to $75,000 for a new car up to two years old. Competitive 5.99% p.a. rate available to all approved applicants.
NRMA New Car Loan
From 6.49% (fixed)
7.03%
$15,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$380
Purchase a new car with an NRMA Car Loan with a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Heritage Bank Car Loan
From 8.99% (fixed)
9.62%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$5
$200
Apply for up to $100,000 to finance a new or used car at a competitive fixed rate.
Latitude Car Loan
From 6.99% (fixed)
8.1%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$10
$295
A secured loan with a competitive rate that can help you finance a range of new or used vehicles.
IMB Secured Personal Loan
From 6.89% (fixed)
7.24%
$2,000
1 to 5 years
$0
$250
All approved applicants can access this competitive rate and use the loan to finance a range of purposes. Loan amounts up to $60,000 available.
RACV Personal Loan
From 7.49% (fixed)
8.04%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$380
Take advantage of a competitive rate by securing an asset to this loan. Use the funds for any purpose.
MyState Secured Personal Loan
From 7.99% (variable)
8.96%
$10,000
1 to 10 years
$10
$200
Apply for a loan up to $75,000 and benefit from loan terms up to 10 years. Your choice between secured or unsecured.
NRMA Used Car Loan
From 7.49% (fixed)
8.04%
$15,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$380
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Latitude Personal Loan (Secured)
From 12.99% (fixed)
14.2%
$3,000
2 to 7 years
$13
$250 (Loans under $4000 - $140)
Benefit from a tailored fixed rate with a loan that can be used for any purpose.
AutoCarLoans
From 5.16% (fixed)
6.64%
$15,000
1 to 7 years
$5
$381.80
AutoCarLoans can match you with a lender from its panel with rates starting from 5.16% p.a. Suitable for vehicles up to 2 years old.
Westpac Car Loan
From 8.49% (fixed)
9.67%
$10,000
1 to 7 years
$12
$250
Finance a new or used car and benefit from great features for car buyers including a car search tool and the option to borrow extra for on-road costs.
St.George Secured Personal Loan - Fixed Rate
8.49% (fixed)
9.6%
$3,000
1 to 5 years
$12
$195
Use your car as security and benefit from a competitive interest rate.
Freedom Finance Car Loan
From 5.1% (fixed)
5.94%
$35,000
1 to 5 years
$0
$380
If you meet all the requirements you could get access to a range of lenders to finance a new or used car up to 4 years.

Compare up to 4 providers

Picture: Shutterstock

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
IMB New Car Loan

Borrow up to $75,000 for a new car up to two years old. Competitive 5.99% p.a. rate available to all approved applicants.

Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

A great rate for cars under 2 years old.

RACV New Car Loans

A competitive rate car loan from RACV with no monthly fees and 5-hour loan approval.

Heritage Bank Car Loan

Apply for up to $100,000 to finance a new or used car at a competitive fixed rate.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, read the PDS or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Ask a question