Are Dealers Ripping You Off on Your Trade-In?

There seems to be a common lament among car shoppers. Dealers are ripping them off on their trade-ins. It’s an interesting issue, because the only person who can let you be ripped off is you.

Why’s that? With all the information available online about trade-in prices, if you get ripped off, it’s because you didn’t do your homework or were dishonest.

A piece at Jalopnik relates how people scream that dealers are ripping them off by offering low-ball money for their precious used cars. There’s a sense among some people that their used cars are worth much more than they are being offered. As the article correctly points out, most people are delusional and/or dishonest. Just like their kids are all above average, everyone’s used car is in excellent condition (unlike that Mustang on fire above) and should command a much higher price. 

More buying advice:

Are Dealers Ripping You Off on Your Trade-In?

That’s in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Want to know what your car is worth? Go online to two used car selling sites that do valuations. Why two sites? You’re going to want to average the two for what your used car is worth as a trade-in: not its retail value or private sale value. Enter your information honestly. Unless you’ve kept your used car garaged, waxed and washed it weekly, vacuumed the interior religiously, and had it serviced strictly to the manufacturer’s schedule, it’s not in excellent condition. Maybe it’s in very good condition.

You can take it to the dealer after getting the average trade-in estimate. See if the dealer hits that mark within a reasonable number like 2-3 percent. Has the dealer done that? Then you’re getting a fair trade-in value for your used car.

You’ve achieved this by doing your homework and being honest about the condition of your used car. That means you didn’t get ripped off. Had you done neither, you would have been rightly ripped off. Hopefully next time you go to buy a car and put up a trade-in, you'll think about these steps and get the most for your ride.

Lead image: Dreamstime