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.

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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

$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Monthly Repayment View Details CTA
Plenti Car Loan
From
4.89%
(fixed)
5.44%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
Loans.com.au - New and Dealer Used Car Loan
From
4.67%
(fixed)
5.22%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.67% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment. Settle the loan before 30 November 2021 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.67% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment. Settle the loan before 30 November 2021 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From
3.35%
(fixed)
4.41%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.35% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.41% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.35% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.41% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
RACV New Car Loans
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
Wisr Secured Car Loan
From
4.74%
(fixed)
5.01%
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.74% p.a. to 16.01% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $63,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

⭐Special Offer: Wisr's standard establishment fee $605 will be reduced to $195 for applications submitted through Finder. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.74% p.a. to 16.01% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $63,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

⭐Special Offer: Wisr's standard establishment fee $605 will be reduced to $195 for applications submitted through Finder. T&Cs apply.
OurMoneyMarket Car Loan
From
5.35%
(fixed)
5.65%
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 10 years.
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 10 years.
MoneyForJam Car Loan
From
2.85%
(fixed)
4.85%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 2.85% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow between $4,500 and $120,000 with loan terms up to 7 years to finance a new or used car. Get access to more than 40 providers. You could get up to $250 cash back if you get insurance or warranty too by 31 July 2021. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 2.85% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow between $4,500 and $120,000 with loan terms up to 7 years to finance a new or used car. Get access to more than 40 providers. You could get up to $250 cash back if you get insurance or warranty too by 31 July 2021. T&Cs apply.
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From
3.85%
(fixed)
4.05%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.85% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $250,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.85% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $250,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
IMB New Car Loan
4.99%
(fixed)
5.34%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
NRMA New Car Loan
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed
From
6.99%
(fixed)
7.91%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 7.91% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
Borrow from $5,000 to $55,000, with 1 to 7 year loan terms available. This loan comes with no fees for extra repayments and no early exit fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 7.91% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
Borrow from $5,000 to $55,000, with 1 to 7 year loan terms available. This loan comes with no fees for extra repayments and no early exit fees.
Heritage Bank Car Loan
4.89%
(fixed)
5.53%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Finance a new or used car up to 5 years old. Large maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000 and terms up to 7 years.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Finance a new or used car up to 5 years old. Large maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000 and terms up to 7 years.
SocietyOne Car Loan
From
5.95%
(fixed)
5.95%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.95% p.a. and 17.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.95% p.a. and 17.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
Driva Car Loan
From
2.85%
(fixed)
4.39%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 2.85% p.a.
Borrow up to $250,000 with loan terms from 1 to 7 years. Get access to a range of lenders.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 2.85% p.a.
Borrow up to $250,000 with loan terms from 1 to 7 years. Get access to a range of lenders.
NRMA Used Car Loan
From
6.24%
(fixed)
6.94%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Compare car insurance side-by-side and get quotes

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: With Coles comprehensive car insurance, you could earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If your car is damaged, you could benefit from a one-week turnaround on repairs.

⭐ Current offer: Get 10% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in its policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also has a live chat feature on its site to talk through any questions.

Who it might be good for: People over 25 who want comprehensive cover with a focus on customer service.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2019 Finder Awards for Best Value Car Insurance, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you purchase a new eligible comprehensive car insurance online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to manage their policy online 24/7.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Australia Post car insurance offers comprehensive cover for things like theft, fire, new for old replacement and emergency accommodation and transport. Cover also extends to anyone who uses your car, not just you.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 online discount + $100 gift card when you purchase by 25 July 2021. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: If multiple people use the one car and you don’t want to worry about listing all drivers.
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2019 Finder Award for the Best Value Car Insurance, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct's claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% discount on first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary:Bingle consistently comes up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. It only covers the basics. You don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and unless you add it as an option, you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps its premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low-cost option that covers them for the basics.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like choice of repairer and the option of agreed or market value.

⭐ Current offer: Earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up today and earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to earn Qantas Points.
Poncho Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription – you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at any time. You can also list multiple cars and drivers under one policy, making it ideal for families and groups living together under one household.

Who it might be good for: People who want their car insurance month to month.
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Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for IMB New Car Loan
IMB New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.

Logo for Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

Logo for RACV New Car Loans
RACV New Car Loans

You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.

Logo for NRMA New Car Loan
NRMA New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.

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