Car Trade-In Value: What’s Your Car Worth?

July 14, 2023

Every journey is an opportunity for growth, and we often find ourselves on the cusp of new beginnings. As we navigate the ever-evolving roads of life, one question often lingers in the back of our minds: “What’s my car worth?”

Whether you’re contemplating an upgrade, seeking a change of pace, or simply curious about your vehicle’s value, understanding its trade-in worth can unlock a world of possibilities.

The car market can be daunting, but we’ll be here to guide you. In this article, we’ll help you make the smartest decisions and find out what you can get for your car today. So let’s get started!

Understanding Car Trade-In Value

Understanding Car Trade-In Value

Definition And Explanation Of Car Trade-In Value

The trade-in value is the amount a dealer will provide you with in exchange for your current car when purchasing a new one. This figure is usually determined by the market value of your vehicle, which is calculated based on what it could fetch in an open sale situation. Depending on its condition and features, this can be more or less than what you originally paid.

Factors Influencing Trade-In Value

1. Age And Mileage

Mileage and mechanical upkeep are crucial factors regarding the value and reliability of a vehicle. If your car has accumulated over 160,000 kilometres on the clock, potential buyers may be hesitant to make a purchase, even if it has been dependable for up to 200,000 kilometres. High mileage significantly impacts the resale value, resulting in a substantial decrease.

On average, individuals drive between 20,000 and 25,000 kilometres annually. If you exceed this average due to a long commute, your vehicle will likely experience mechanical issues.

Even if you haven’t encountered any problems yet, it’s essential to note that your car could be a ticking time bomb. To save mileage, consider renting a car for significant trips.

2. Condition And Maintenance History

Maintaining your vehicle regularly is crucial for both current reliability and future resale value. Adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, including oil and filter changes. It is also important to keep detailed records of all maintenance activities, no matter how minor, to demonstrate the level of care provided to the car over time.

If your check engine light is on, it is a warning sign that should not be ignored. Driving a damaged vehicle will only increase the cost of repairs in the long run.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that extensive repairs, particularly after a serious accident, do not yield a favourable return on investment. For every $5,000 spent on accident-related repairs, expect the value of your vehicle to decrease by $2,500.

3. The Equipment In Your Car

Consuming food, beverages, and cigarettes and allowing pets to accompany you during car rides can all harm your vehicle’s interior. Stains, scorch marks, and unpleasant odours can drastically reduce the resale value of your automobile. Prospective purchasers may assume that the mechanics may also be neglected if the inside is not kept in good condition.

It is worth dedicating some time and energy to restoring your vehicle’s interior to look as pristine and flawless as possible before trading in or selling it privately. To achieve this, numerous products and services specialize in eliminating odours. Investing some effort into making the interior look immaculate can increase your car’s value when you eventually trade it in or sell it.

Taking advantage of the available resources to enhance your car’s resale value could be very beneficial. Ensuring any interior deficiencies are corrected gives you a much better chance of obtaining an optimal price when trading in or attempting to sell your vehicle on the private market. Such corrections may even save you thousands of dollars that would otherwise have been lost due to reduced value.

4. Market Demand And Trends

When you are looking to sell your vehicle, it is important to be aware of the state of the market. Certain brands retain their value better than others – for example, Subaru, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, and Toyota have a reputation for keeping their value longer.

The fundamental law of economics, supply, and demand, reigns supreme in all aspects of life, even if you are trying to sell a used Camry. In this case, the dealership is unlikely to be enthused about adding another Camry to their existing inventory if they already have 12 on their lot.

Some of the most sought-after used vehicles share the same body style and design as their contemporary counterparts. If your vehicle is relatively new, you may reap a higher resale value due to its resemblance with current popular models. Consequently, sellers need to consider the current market conditions before selling.

Differences Between Trade-In Value And Private Sale Value

The trade-in value of a vehicle is typically significantly lower than its retail price; this is the amount that a dealer will pay for the car to resell and make a profit.

The private sale value of a vehicle is typically much higher than its trade-in value, as it is the amount that a seller can realistically expect to receive from a private buyer.

The trade-in value is lower than the original purchase price because the dealer needs to profit when reselling it and cover any costs associated with repairs, cleaning, or advertising that may be necessary to make the vehicle marketable.

The private sale value is usually higher than the market price, as the seller can set their own asking price and negotiate directly with the potential buyer. This gives them more control over what they can get for their property, allowing them to maximize their profit margin.

Factors To Consider When Deciding Between Trade-In And Private Sale

The Hassle

The inconvenience of selling a car privately can be quite daunting. It may necessitate placing adverts, interacting with prospective purchasers, taking care of all the necessary paperwork, and being on guard against fraudulent activities. Furthermore, you must factor in the time spent arranging viewings and negotiations with buyers, making the process difficult.

Tax Benefits

The tax advantages of trading in your old car can be incredibly beneficial, as it may decrease the overall taxable sales price of the new vehicle you are purchasing. This depends on where you live and the regulations in your respective state. By trading in your existing car, you could save a considerable amount on taxes when buying a new one.

The Time

Selling a car privately can be a lengthy process that often takes longer than simply trading it into a dealership. You may need to advertise the vehicle, arrange viewings and negotiate with potential buyers, which can be time-consuming.

Furthermore, you may have to wait for payment until the buyer has arranged financing or sold their current car. Ultimately, selling your car privately requires patience and effort to achieve the best price for your vehicle.

Evaluating Your Car’s Trade-In Value

Evaluating Your Car's Trade-In Value

Researching Trade-In Values

Determining the trade-in value of your vehicle can be done in various ways, including utilizing online price estimators or visiting area car dealerships. Here is how you can evaluate your car’s trade-in value.

1. Online Valuation Tools And Websites

Online Valuation tools and websites (Eg. are incredibly useful for evaluating the trade-in value of a car. These online resources provide an invaluable service, enabling potential sellers to determine the worth of their vehicle before they decide to part with it.

These websites also offer advice on negotiating with prospective buyers to obtain maximum profit from the sale. Utilizing these online tools, users can get an accurate estimate of what their car is worth and know exactly how much money they should expect when trading it in.

2. Consulting Multiple Sources For Accurate Estimates

To gain an accurate estimate of the trade-in value for a car, it is important to consult multiple sources. This can include obtaining quotes from online valuation services, visiting your local dealership, or assessing the current market value through websites such as Autotrader.

You may wish to ask friends and family members who have recently purchased a similar vehicle for their experiences or speak with independent auto mechanics familiar with the make and model of your car. Gathering information from various sources allows you to obtain reliable estimates for evaluating your car’s trade-in value.

Gathering Necessary Information

1. Car’s Title 

If you want to trade in your car, you must bring along the title. Without it, you will not be able to proceed with the transaction.

If there is a secured party listed on the title, make sure to provide either a payoff letter or get a 10-day payoff amount from your lender. Additionally, ensure that you have obtained their contact information before bringing in the documents of your vehicle.

2. Detailed Vehicle History Reports

A vehicle history report can influence a car’s trade-in value. It reveals how well it was kept, any accidents or damage, and any recalls or liens. A good report can increase the offer, while a bad one will lower it.

3. Documentation Of Maintenance And Repairs

If the car is in good condition and all maintenance requirements have been appropriately satisfied, it would be beneficial to bring along service records when trading in. This can often increase the money one receives for the trade-in; however, this is not always the case.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Overestimating Your Car’s Value

If you have been considering trading in your old car, chances are it has been in your possession for a considerable time. During this period of ownership, you may have formed an emotional attachment to it due to the sentimental value associated with the vehicle. Unfortunately, these feelings don’t necessarily translate into additional monetary worth when selling or trading in your car.

It is crucial to have a general idea of the market value of your trade before taking it in for appraisal by the dealer. Doing some research beforehand and utilizing online tools such as Kelley Blue Book can help you understand your car’s trade-in value range. This will ensure that you are going into negotiations with knowledge and information about the worth of your vehicle.

Refrain From Addressing Cosmetic Issues.

Most of the time, car dealerships will accept your vehicle trade-in, even if it needs significant repair. If you want to upgrade to a newer model and include a trade-in as part of the deal, you should take your automobile into one of these establishments.

You should get an accurate assessment from the dealership to determine how much they may be willing to give you for it. This way, you can determine whether or not trading in your old car is the most beneficial option.

Failing To Provide Maintenance Records

may not be necessary to track the car’s maintenance record since it was first purchased. However, any records you can find from when you acquired vehicle ownership could be immensely useful. A comprehensive list of services and repairs performed on your car can help you better monitor its condition and longevity over time.

Not Considering Local Market Factors

Local market conditions can be of great significance when it comes to realizing the worth of your second-hand vehicle. For instance, if you reside in a colder climate and have a preowned convertible, you will likely need help to get an attractive price for your car. Buyers may prefer a more robust sedan or another car that suits their needs in such climates.

You should be conscious that certain dealers may have too many pre-owned vehicles in their inventory comparable to your model. Consequently, you will not be interested in accepting your trade-in. Remembering this when choosing a dealer is important, as it can significantly impact the overall transaction.

Improving Your Car’s Trade-In Value

Improving Your Car's Trade-In Value

Regular Maintenance And Servicing

The condition of your car impacts its value. Fixing any simple issues can help. This could be cosmetics, such as dents and scratches, or replacing burnt-out lights.

Research the repairs that will increase the car’s value and the cost of each repair to decide which repairs are worth it.

Addressing Minor Repairs And Cosmetic Issues

A clean and well-maintained vehicle is the best way to ensure the highest possible trade-in value. Not only should you be sure to keep your car looking good on the outside, such as by washing and waxing regularly, but you should also thoroughly clean its interior.

Your car can be compared with staging a home for sale in that they both require considerable effort to make them look best and create an attractive overall impression – or, in this case, curb appeal. This will help ensure that when it comes time to trade it in, you get the most out of your investment.

Keeping Detailed Records Of Maintenance And Repairs

Maintaining accurate records of any repair work done as part of a warranty agreement is essential for getting the best possible value when it comes time to negotiate a vehicle sale. This information will give you leverage in the bargaining process and give potential buyers peace of mind that the car has been serviced and repaired correctly.

Keeping records such as receipts, invoices, and service logbooks can also increase your vehicle’s resale value and make selling it much easier.

Presenting The Vehicle In Clean And Well-Maintained Condition.

Taking your car to the car wash before trading it in is wise. You don’t have to spend money on detailing; just take it through a car wash and remove any trash and crumbs from the inside. Clear out personal items from secret spots like the trunk and the centre console.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is The Difference Between Trade-In Value And Retail Value?

Trade-in value is the value of a vehicle to a dealer who will resell it for a profit. This is usually lower than the retail value. Retail value is the price of the car when sold by a dealer or private seller, including their profit.

Can I Negotiate The Trade-In Value With A Dealership?

Yes! You can negotiate your trade-in price and purchase separately to get the best trade-in value and buy your car.

How Can I Get The Best Trade-In Value For My Car?

It is highly recommended that you visit at least three different car dealers to obtain the best possible trade-in offers. At each dealership, be sure to ask for a written agreement outlining their offer in detail so that you can accurately compare your options and also have proof of your vehicle’s value if needed later on.

Does The Trade-In Value Vary Depending On The Dealership?

The value of a trade-in offer for a car can vary significantly, depending on the dealership’s current inventory, the vehicle’s condition, and how persuaded the dealer is that they can resell it quickly.

Should I Make Repairs Before Trading In My Car?

Attempting to repair your car before trading it in is strongly discouraged. Doing so could be a costly mistake, as dealerships will likely deduct the estimated cost of reconditioning the vehicle from its final trade-in value if major issues are discovered during the inspection. Even if you feel confident that you can diagnose and fix any problems, attempting repairs before trading in may not be financially worth it compared to the lost value.

Can I Trade In A Car With Outstanding Finance?

It is possible to part-exchange a car with outstanding finance, and the remaining debt can be settled using the proceeds from your vehicle’s part-exchange. Any additional value left over can be put towards purchasing your new car.


When selling your car, considering its trade-in value is crucial to get the best return on your investment. While many individuals choose to trade in their vehicles at dealerships, exploring alternative options that offer a higher value and a hassle-free experience is important. Mad Man Motors is a reputable company that provides a quick and easy way to sell your car privately.

We offer an instant estimate of your car’s value, provide transparency, and ensure you understand what your vehicle is worth. This eliminates the guesswork and allows you to make an informed decision regarding the sale.

We handle all the paperwork, relieving you of the time-consuming and often confusing administrative tasks associated with private car sales.

Our team of professionals deeply understands the market and can guide you through the entire selling journey, ensuring you get the best possible deal for your vehicle. You just need to contact us, and we will make it easier!

Contact Us | Mad Man Motors | 1300 623 668