Trade In Mistakes

When trading in your old car and buying a new one, we all want to think we got the best deal possible. Here are some common trade-in mistakes to avoid.
Seven Tips for a Better Trade-In Experience
Perhaps you've been thinking about getting a new car for some time and you've done your homework on choosing the right vehicle for you and your family's needs. You might have even looked around online to decide on which trim level you're interested in, which color you like best, and have a good idea of the price you will expect to pay. But what about your trade-in car? You want to play it smart and get the most for your trade-in and want to avoid costly mistakes.
At Lithia Motors we have over 75 years of experience in solving your personal transportation needs. Here are some helpful tips to help you get the most for your used car. What follows are common trade-in mistakes you can avoid.
#1 - Not knowing your Trade-in Value
Believe it or not, some people are so excited about buying their new car that they forget to research how much their trade-in car is worth. Today, there are lots of ways to check your car's current worth before you even set foot in a dealership. For instance, Kelley Blue Book offers a free tool online that calculates your car's value and will give you a good idea of what a car dealer will pay for your vehicle.
Simply go to and enter your car's 17-digit VIN number or you can enter the year, make and model as well as the trim level and approximate the current condition of the car and the value calculator will tell you how much you can expect to get for your used car.
You can also get an instant offer on your trade-in at We'll give you an instant offer that is good for seven days. Driveway allows you to handle all your car selling and buying needs completely online. If you chose to buy a car through Driveway, we'll even bring it right to you. You can do the whole thing right from your smartphone… even in your slippers.
So, step one is finding out the true value of your trade-in.
#2 - Not getting several offers
There was a time when the only way to get an idea of your trade-in car's worth was to go down to a car dealership and have the dealer appraise your car's value. Even then, the smart move would be to go to three different dealerships to see which one would offer you the most for your car. Now, the Internet gives you many more options and you don't have to drive all over town to find out what your car is worth. We mentioned Kelley Blue Book and Driveway, there is also Carmax, Car Gurus, Edmunds and more that all offer convenient online tools to determine the value of your car.
Once you know what a dealer will likely pay for your car, you can decide if you would rather use the convenience of an instant offer or go to the trouble of selling your car yourself. This of course can be a long and drawn-out affair that includes having the car detailed, taking photos, writing an ad, placing the ad, showing your car to potential buyers, making a deal, and getting the cash all in the hopes that you can get more for the car than at a dealer or through an online offer.
#3 - Spending money repairing or replacing parts
Before you take your car to a dealer it's a good idea to make it look its best. A good car wash and cleaning out the inside is essential. Some folks even have the car details to add showroom shine. But there's no need to spend a lot of time and money to repair dents and dings or to replace tires and brakes, when the dealership can do the same for a lot less money than you can. Likewise, if there are more expensive mechanical issues with your trade-in, the dealership can handle these.
#4 - Overestimating your car's true value
America is a nation of car lovers. We get attached to our rides. After all, they have taken us faithfully through major life milestones and been there with us through thick and thin. Our cars become members of our family. We even name them. We get it. You love your car. But also know that when it comes time to sell, trading your car becomes a simple business transaction.
All car appraisals are simply estimates and that's why it is best to get several estimates on what your trade-in is worth. In recent years, a shortage of new and used cars in showrooms have elevated the value of used cars. In today's market, you might be pleasantly surprised at what your trade-in is worth.
#5 - Not making the Trade-In a separate deal
This is a common mistake. You drive onto the car lot and want to talk to the salesperson about the new car you want to buy. You spend time looking at the new car, taking it on a test drive, you talk over price, even begin negotiating the deal… all without mentioning your trade-in.
The fact is that it is important to make TWO deals at the dealership. One for your trade-in and one for your new car. Don't lump the whole process into one big, confusing deal. When you arrive, let the salesperson know that you have a vehicle that you intend to use as a trade-in. That way, the dealership can get busy appraising the car. While they are checking out your trade-in, you can certainly look at the new car you want to buy. But, handle the trade-in as one component and the purchase of your new car as another component. Keeping these two separate deals will make sure you understand exactly what is going on and reduce your stress overall.
#6 - Not keeping track of the numbers
Making a deal with selling your old car and buying a new one can get confusing. A lot of numbers get thrown around. There's the offer on your trade-in, the purchase price of the new car, the interest rate, the down payment, number of monthly payments, taxes, license, and add-on products such as a lifetime oil change or extended warranty.
It all gets to be a mathematical tirade. It is a good idea to bring a friend with you as the "voice of reason" as well as a calculator smartphone app. Your friend and your calculator can double check all the math that is being thrown around so that you can be sure to understand all the details.
After all, for most of us, buying a car may be the second largest purchase we ever make, right after buying our homes. It can be an emotional experience and bringing a friend who will remain calm and collected during the negotiating process and who has your back, looking out for your best interests, can be a great help.
#7 - A word about Negative Equity
It's natural to get excited about buying a new car, but some people get so excited that they will do almost anything to get the deal done. They want their old car gone and to drive off into the sunset in their new car. We understand. But there is such a thing as negative equity. Let's say you still owe money on your trade-in. You may, in fact, owe more money on the car than it is worth. That's called being "upside down" on the loan. It may seem very convenient to trade in your old car and roll the balance into your new car payment. This will increase your monthly payment quite a bit and you'll end up paying for both your new car and you'll still be paying off your old one. Not a good idea.
Let Lithia Help
When it comes to buying, selling, trading, or leasing cars, we've seen it all at Lithia Motors. If you have questions about trading in your used car, we have the answers and are here to help. Because we want to get you into the car of your dreams and keep you as a customer for life.