When Should You Trade In Your Car?

Published on
September 21, 2023

Are you wondering when the best time is to trade in your car? Trading in a car can be a great way to upgrade your ride without going through the hassle of selling it yourself. But before you make this decision, it's important to understand the process and associated risks.

This blog post includes an overview of when you should consider trading in your car, the process of trading in a car, and answers to frequently asked questions. We'll cover topics like when to trade in a car, whether it’s possible to trade in a car that hasn't been paid off, the advantages and disadvantages of trading in vs. selling, the process of trading in a car, and more.

Is it time to trade it in?

Deciding when to trade in your car can be a difficult decision. You want to get the most value for your money, but you also want to make sure you are trading in at the best time. To help you make the right decision, here are some things to consider.

When your car no longer suits your needs

If you find yourself wanting more features, better fuel economy, or a different style of car than what you currently have, then it may be time to start thinking about trading in and upgrading.

When the cost of repairs is more than the value of the car

As cars age and wear down, they become increasingly costly to repair and maintain. If you’ve been dealing with frequent repairs or if one major repair is going to cost more than what your vehicle is worth, then it might be time to consider trading it in for something new.

When you want to reduce your monthly payments

Trading in an older-model vehicle for a newer one can significantly reduce your monthly payments depending on how old the car is and what kind of financing options are available. If that’s something that interests you, then trading in might be worth considering.

When you are looking for better fuel economy

Newer models often come with improved fuel efficiency, which can save drivers money as they fill up their tank less often. If gas prices have been eating away at your budget lately, then trading-in could be an good way to cut back on those costs while still getting around town easily and comfortably.

When you are looking for a dependable car with a warranty

Older cars tend to require more maintenance than newer models because they lack important warranties that cover parts and labor costs associated with certain repairs. Trading-in could potentially provide peace of mind by removing those concerns while enabling access to reliable transportation.

Before 100,000 miles

Depending on how much wear and tear has been put on your current car throughout its life cycle, it may be wise to trade-in before hitting 100,000 miles as this number is typically seen as an indicator that many components will soon need replacements or repairs.

Is It Possible To Trade in a Car You Haven't Paid Off?

Trading in a car that you haven’t paid off is possible, but it may not be the best choice depending on your situation. When considering trading in a financed car, it’s important to look at the value of the car compared to the remaining balance on the loan. If the remaining balance is higher than the trade-in value, you'll likely end up having to pay out of pocket for the difference. Your credit score can also affect your ability to trade in a financed car, as lenders may be hesitant to finance a trade-in if your credit score or other financial factors are poor.

If you do decide to go ahead with a trade-in, it’s also important to know what your car’s trade-in value is so that you don’t get taken advantage of during negotiations. In some cases, using a third-party lender or rolling your existing auto loan balance into a new loan may be more beneficial than trading in your vehicle.

Advantages and Disadvantages: Trading In vs. Selling

The decision to trade in or sell a car can be an important one. Trading in can often be much more convenient, but you're more likely to receive less money than what your car is worth when trading in. This is because negotiations with dealerships tend to be more difficult than negotiations with private buyers. Trading in also includes fees associated with closing out on a new vehicle—this should also be considered when deciding which option works best for you given all relevant factors.

Selling your vehicle yourself may get you more money and you'll have full control over setting your own price, but this process takes significantly longer and requires more effort from the seller. Additionally, taxes may need to be accounted for with any profits made from the sale of the old vehicle.

The Process for Trading in Your Car

Trading in your car is a great way to upgrade or make a change. However, the process can be overwhelming for those unfamiliar with it. To make things easier, here are the steps you should follow to make sure you have a smooth transaction.

Do your research

Begin by researching the current market value of your car, as well as gathering all necessary documents such as vehicle registration and title. Be sure to give yourself enough time to do this accurately to help yourself out when you start negotiating with dealerships.

Find the right dealership

Once you've done your research, shop around for a dealership that'll take trade-ins and is willing to negotiate on price. Many dealers offer incentives or discounts if you’re swapping out cars, so it’s important to compare prices before settling on one.

Always try to negotiate

Next, negotiate the price of your trade-in based on its condition and current market value—having service records from when you purchased or serviced the car can help verify its history too! It's beneficial if you can get multiple quotes before deciding which one works best for both parties involved.

Sign the paperwork

After reaching an agreement at a good rate, sign relevant paperwork associated with it, including any contracts related to new vehicles bought in exchange for your old one. Read through everything carefully first so that there are no hidden fees or items that weren't discussed during negotiations that could end up costing more than expected later down the line.

And now you’re ready…

Deciding when and how to trade in your car involves a combination of understanding your vehicle's condition, financial considerations, and market factors. As you consider your next move, make sure you're informed and prepared, keeping both your needs and financial consequences in mind.

Other FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What fees are associated with trading in a vehicle?

  • When trading in a vehicle, there are typically two types of fees: taxes and closing fees. Taxes vary by state, so it's important to check local laws. Closing fees often cover services like registration processing and may be paid directly to the dealership. Always inquire about these fees before signing any agreements.

What documents are required when trading in a vehicle?

  • You'll need valid identification (e.g., driver’s license or passport), proof of insurance for both old and new vehicles, title or loan documents for both cars, and registration information for each vehicle.

Can I trade in a damaged vehicle?

  • Yes, you can trade in a damaged vehicle, but its value might be reduced based on the extent of the damage. In some cases, selling the vehicle privately might yield a better return than trading it in at a dealership.

How should I prepare my car before trading it in?

  • It's advisable to clean your car thoroughly, both inside and out, to enhance its appeal. A well-presented car could lead to better offers from dealerships.

Do seasonal fluctuations affect trade-in values?

  • Yes, the time of year when you make the trade can impact the trade-in value. For instance, end-of-model year sales typically happen in September, while end-of-year sales events are common in December and January. Holidays like Memorial Day might also provide promotional incentives, influencing trade-in offers.

About the Author: This article was crafted by the LOOP Marketing Team. Comprising of seasoned professionals with expertise in the insurance industry, our team is dedicated to providing readers with accurate, up-to-date, and valuable information. At LOOP, we're passionate about helping families navigate the world of car insurance, ensuring they get the best coverage at the most affordable rates. Learn more about our mission and values here.

For more insights on auto insurance and other related topics, visit our blog.

Quick Navigation

You don’t need a good credit score to have great car insurance!

Check out how much you could save today.

Check Our Prices
You don’t need a good credit score to have great car insurance!

Check out how much you could save today.

Check Our Prices
A weekly newsletter with useful info to help you get to where you’re going.
By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy and provide consent to receive updates from our company.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.