Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

How to get the best price when trading in your car

Going out and buying a new car seems like an exciting thing to do on the face of it, but what do you do with your current car?
Iain Kelly
Contributing Journalist
CarsGuide

22 Aug 2018 • 3 min read

Going out and buying a new car seems like an exciting thing to do on the face of it, but what do you do with your current car? When is the right time to move on to a new set of wheels, and how do you know you will get a fair trade-in price from the dealer? 

When should you sell your car?

The first thing you need to do is sit down and work out if you need a new car. There are always costs involved with changing cars, so once you’ve found a car you like the look of go out and get a quote on service and insure charges as these can be expensive traps that will knock you for six later on.

Next thing you should do is research how much you would be able to sell your car for privately, compared to trading it in at a dealership or car yard. Selling privately means you will have to clean the car, take photos, upload them and pay for ads, then show the car to prospective buyers, haggle over price, then negotiate for the buyer to pick the car up. 

However, you do often get a higher price selling privately compared to trading in a car at a dealer, as the dealer will negotiate a price less than market value so they can maximise their margin. Also think about when you should sell your car as convertibles don’t sell well in winter, but spring is the perfect time, so think about when you should sell a car.

The first step to trading in a car is to prepare. Know the approximate market price of your particular car, and if you’re not sure you should think about getting a valuation done. The number of kilometres, service history, cleanliness and general condition of the car will have more of an effect on the trade-in price than options or modifications. 

The beauty of trading in a car is you go to the dealership, pick the car you’d like to buy and then get the salesperson to do a trade-in appraisal on your existing car. This is a rough price they will offer you, and I would never accept the first number they give you. It is a negotiation, and if they really want the sale they will come back to you with a lower price on the new car, free servicing or options, or a better trade-in price. 

Best time to sell a car?

If you can wait until near the end of the financial year, or calendar year, you can negotiate much harder with the dealer as they have huge incentives to move demo vehicles or last year’s build models on. Don’t be scared of walking out if you don’t feel like they have listened to you, and make sure you ring around other dealers to see what demos or stock they have.

You can look up dealers all over the country using the phone in your pocket so don’t be scared to walk out and find a dealer who is prepared to work with you!