Trading in Your Car

Trading in Your Car

What’s my trade worth? It might have a theoretical market value, but at the end of the day, it’s really only worth what someone will give you for it. Therefore, you have to build your trade value up. Do your homework and use the resources below to get an accurate idea of what your trade may be worth. You will be working from a “wholesale number.” You aren’t retailing your trade to the dealership. Remember, the dealer is already giving you a great price on your purchase. It’s up to you to have an idea what your trade is worth and build your case. Be realistic about the condition of your car. If the trade is in average condition, value it as average. Very few trades are actually in pristine condition. Your best effort to build your trade value up is to (1) know its value, and (2) detail your car.


  • Clean your car, inside and out.
  • Remove clutter and all personal effects.
  • Clean out the glove box. Leave only 3 things: (1) the owner’s manual, (2) the registration, and (3) proof of insurance. This proves to the salesperson that you are serious. Show them you are a serious buyer.
  • Tell the salesperson you’ve cleaned your car out and you are buying today.


  • – Auto Trader shows what a private party or dealers are trying to sell their car for. You can search your trade-in model to see how many are for sale. Search at least 200 miles.
  • Kelley Blue Book – Is a wholesale guide. It can be a valuable tool, but it won’t tell you the whole story of the market you’re in.
  • NADA – Is a wholesale guide used by lenders and dealers.