The process for trading a used car for another involves appraising the trade-in value of the current car, getting and appraising a dealership quote, and negotiating or closing the deal. Prospective traders take their cars to several dealers to gauge fair value before negotiating.
A car appraiser estimates the trade-in value of a car by assessing its general condition, accident history, maintenance record and the timing and location of the offer. The appraiser may check for dents or dings, paint chips and odors. A dealer issues a quote based on his assessment of the vehicle, and the car owner compares it with the pre-determined trade-in value. The car owner may take the vehicle to other dealerships to seek better offers.
Most dealers offer prices that are lower than the expectations of the seller. The car owner may take the offer made by a dealer or negotiate for a better deal. When both parties come to an agreement, the dealer credits the trade-in amount against the purchase price of the new car. In some states, the client may pay sales tax for the difference between the price of the old car and the newly acquired car. Car owners can get good deals by washing their cars beforehand, carrying maintenance records to the dealership, and demonstrating knowledge of the trade-in value.