A car, truck, SUV, or minivan is typically the second largest investment you will make next to a home or condominium. Unfortunately, the depreciation clock starts ticking on a vehicle the moment you drive off the lot. The reality is that over a five-year period, the value of the brand new car you paid $25,000 can depreciate by nearly $15,000, even with average mileage and normal wear and tear. While you typically are not thinking about depreciation when you are wrapped up in buying a new car, knowing what it may be worth in five years can be a valuable negotiating tool. While it is impossible to stop the depreciation clock, there are things you can do to slow it down and get the best price for your trade in.
Maintenance is a Priority
The proper care and maintenance of your car, truck, SUV, or minivan is a key factor when you want to get the best price for your trade in. Check your owner’s manual and sure to follow the schedule it provides for routine maintenance. The old standard of changing you oil every 3,000 miles may or may not apply, so it is important to know what the specific manufacturer’s recommendations are for you vehicle.
Aside from routine maintenance, you also want to be sure to address any other concerns as soon as possible. A small squeak or rattle can turn into a major repair in no time, so instead of turning up the radio to drown it out, take a minute to make an appointment to have it checked out by a certified mechanic. In the case of vehicle ownership, it is always better to have a small issue taken care of before it becomes a major problem, which equates into an expensive repair.
You also want to be sure to always keep your repair and maintenance receipts. Most repair facilities have a computerized system that they can access to print out a repair record for your vehicle. While it may take a phone call or a quick stop to get these records, they can very easily convert to cash when it is time to trade in your vehicle.
Take Advantage of Internet Resources
Before you even start shopping for a new car, truck, or SUV, spend some time online researching the best price for your trade in. There is a variety of online resources that will give you an estimated trade in value for your vehicle. Most are simply an online form you fill in with you vehicle information, geographical location and specifics such as mileage and options. Use a few different sites so that you can get an average of what the trade in value of your vehicle is in your specific area.
It is also a good idea to run a vehicle history check. Many websites provide vehicle history reports free of charge and can provide you with a complete history of your car, truck, SUV, or minivan. This is especially important if you purchased the vehicle used. Vehicle history reports show accident damage, maintenance and repairs completed at authorized facilities like a dealership and the mileage history. The dealership will typically run its own history report as part of evaluating your trade in, but it is always better to know for yourself before you turn your keys over to an estimator.
Learn To Negotiate
As was mentioned before, maintenance records can be easily turned into cash when it comes time to negotiate the best price for your trade in. When you are armed with maintenance records, vehicle history and a few online vehicle valuations, you have more leverage than the typical consumer does when it comes to getting the price you want. Keep in mind that the dealership is a business and wants to make a profit, but being an educated consumer can help you get a price you are happy with instead of just depending on the dealership to offer you what they think your vehicle is worth. The more time you spend online researching your current vehicle and the vehicle you are interested in purchasing, the happier you will be when you drive off the lot in your new car. With all the tools available online, consumers have more power than ever to walk into a car dealership and walk out feeling good about their investment.
Getting the best price for your trade in may take some time and research, but when it comes time to head to the dealership, it will be well worth it. The internet and its available resources have completely changed the car buying process and it is important to take advantage of these resources. You also want to be sure that you take care of your car nearly as well as you take care of yourself. Always remember that your vehicle is an investment and the more your put into that investment, the more it will reward you when it comes time to trade in your car, truck, SUV, or minivan on something new.