Nothing lasts forever. The car that you leaned on through thick and thin may not be as reliable anymore. It’s rich with memories, sure, but it has seen better days.

You know it’s the right thing to do, but you may find yourself reluctant to part with your old vehicle. You might feel hesitant to commit to another big investment when you’ve barely escaped debt, or scared to replace your car with another model that’s not worth it. Plus, there’s also the valid concern of being ripped off.

However, you need to understand one thing: If you want to move up in life, you have to make an upgrade. In a fast-moving life, you can’t afford to be stuck.

Arming yourself with information is the best way to ease off anxieties. So today, we’re going to help you with that by walking you through the process of selling your car to a dealer.


If you want to get it right, you can’t half-ass this —do your homework. If you don’t want to get ripped off, you need to come to the dealership prepared with your own valuation. Here’s how you can do that:



Your car’s trade-in value is influenced by external factors that you can’t control. There are a number of factors that you should consider. If you’re good with these, it might be a good time to sell your car.

First, determine the economic factors. Are businesses thriving in the area? Are families managing their cost of living? Are there massive layoffs? Are fuel prices spiking? These might be boring trivia for your Economics class, but these are key points in valuing your car.

Second, determine the demand. Is your car sought after by a large number of buyers? Is your car a collector’s item? Is it an SUV or a sedan? You have to guesstimate where your car is on the demand curve. Fast tips: Sedans are popular for families, and vans are popular for companies.

Third, determine the timing. People would probably avoid buying a convertible during winter, but the sales would probably increase during the summer.



Take a look at existing listings for other cars, and compare them with your own car. Don’t limit your search to similar cars. You should compare your car to those made from an earlier year, or those that offer the same experience. This gives you a great estimate of what the price range is, and where you are on it.



Before I talk about mileage, you need to learn what age-to-mileage ratio is. It could be easy to say that a car with 45,000 miles on the odometer is less beat up than a car with 100,000 miles on odometer. However, the narrative changes if I tell you that the second car (100,000 miles) has been driven for 7 years, while first car (45,000 miles) has been driven for only 2 years. Now, it’s easy to see that the second car is less beat up than the first car. This is the age-to-mileage ratio.

So factor your mileage in: Did you drive it a lot or did you drive it a little in relation to your car’s age?



The amount of damage your car endured will affect your car’s trade-in value. Are the windows rolling properly? Brakes still clamping? Bumps and scratches? Inversely, how much you have taken care of and tweaked your car up affects your car’s trade-in value.



After determining a fair price range for your car, determine the maximum you can push your car’s price without scaring off potential buyers. This would give you space to negotiate your price.



Prepare your car for the trade-in by making it look as brand new as you can — clean it, optimize it, and put in all the valuable accessories for it. You should also bring all the necessary documents like the car’s title or vehicle identification. Then, present it to the dealer.

The dealer will do his own valuation, technical check-up, inventory check, background check, and test run. After that, he’ll give you an offer.



Compare his valuation to yours. Is this lower than your car deserves? Is the valuation fair and square? If you have any questions, now’s the time to ask them. Make sure you understand the reasoning behind their valuation.

If it doesn’t make sense even after negotiating, remember that you don’t have to take the offer. You can also choose to get a second opinion from another dealer. However, since dealerships in the same area are influenced by the same factors, you might not get a much different offer in the end.



If you’ve agreed on a trade-in value, you will finally get a shot at the new car that you wanted traded-in for. Depending on the store’s policy, you may only drive your new car out after closing the deal. To speed things up, make sure that every requirement from your end has been taken care of.



Not all dealerships are made equal — some are hard-nosed with their assessment while some will try to rip you off as much as they can. The real tip here is that you should find a reliable dealership.

If you’re around Salinas, CA, then we recommend you stop by The Car Lot. We are the leading used car dealership with the lowest price anywhere! If you have any questions about valuation and trade-in process, our experienced sales team would guide you along the way. We hope to see you there!