How Easy Is It To Trade-in Your Car?

By Alexi Falson
Updated on 31 Jan 2023 First published 12 Mar 2021
image for How Easy Is It To Trade-in Your Car? If you’ve had your current car for a number of years and you’re looking to upgrade, you might be wondering just how easy it is to trade-in and make the step up to a more modern vehicle. 

If your needs have changed, like a having set of children for example, or you’re simply looking to upgrade to a more fuel-efficient or powerful vehicle, there are a number of options available to you - but you need to do your homework. 

Thankfully, we’ve put together a helpful guide mapping out all the important steps of trading in your current car, so let’s dive in. 

Common Reasons For Trading in a Car

There is a heap of reasons to trade in your current car and upgrade to a new or more recent used vehicle, including: 

  • Reliability issues 
  • Lifestyle changes (growing family or work needs) 
  • High mileage 
  • Advanced safety features in new vehicles 
  • Entertainment and comfort features in new vehicles 

What is the Process of Trading In Your Car? 

There are four important steps to take while you’re in the process of trading in your current car, which involve doing some market research, making some fixes (if needed), contacting a number of dealerships and online trade-in portals, and then finalising the trade-in. 

Step 1: Research a Fair Market Value 

The first step of the journey is to research just how much your vehicle is worth, with its age, kilometres driven, maintenance history and condition all taken into consideration. 

This is extremely important because you’ll get a clear picture as to how much your vehicle is worth, and you’ll have additional context while negotiating a price you deem fair further down the process. 

Step 2: Fixes, Servicing and Improvements 

Before you gather quotes, it’s worthwhile taking some time and investing in some simple fixes or visual improvements if the vehicle is showing some signs of wear and tear, or even a service to consolidate its market value.

Taking a close look and buffing out any exterior bodywork blemishes, as well as detailing the interior can help to increase the value of your trade-in. 

Step 3: Gathering Quotes 

Now it’s time to start shopping around between dealerships and online trade-in portals to find the best trade-in quote on your vehicle. 

Some dealerships might offer you a lower-than-market-value price in order to ‘flip’ or resell the vehicle for a healthier profit, while others might offer you a fair-market-value quote on the trade-in. 

This means that the process of gathering quotes can take some time and effort, but it’s essential that you don’t simply take the first offer thrown your way. 

Step 4: Consider the Changeover Price

Once you’ve done your research and compiled a range of quotes, it’s time to do the math and figure out which of those offers gives you the cheapest-possible changeover price.

The changeover price is easy to figure out: simply subtract the trade-in price that you’ve been offered from that dealership from the price of the new vehicle.

While a higher trade-in price for your used car might be an attractive proposition, if the price of the new car is more expensive, you’ll end up paying more in the changeover process than if you opted for a lower trade-in price with a more competitive price for the new car.


Dealership 1

Dealership 2

Dealership 3

New Car Price




Trade-in Price




Changeover Price




As you can see, while the trade-in price at dealership number 2 is significantly higher, the changeover price remains more expensive than dealership number 3, which has a lower list price for the new vehicle.

Step 5: Finalising the Trade-in 

Once you’ve agreed on a fair price for your trade-in, it’s time to sign the paperwork and be reimbursed for your vehicle by the agent you’re dealing with. 

How to Trade-in With OnlineAuto 

We’re here to help make the process of trading in your current car super convenient with our simple four-step process. 

  • Step 1: Submit your enquiry and one of our car-buying specialists will get in contact 
  • Step 2: We will organise an inspection of the vehicle to give an accurate trade-in price
  • Step 3: Once a trade-in price has been agreed- you get paid instantly 
  • Step 4: We organise the logistics of picking up the vehicle, and ownership transfers

If you’re looking to get a trade-in valuation of your vehicle, click here to use our quick and easy online trade-in enquiry form.

Can you Trade in a Financed Car? 

You can indeed trade-in a financed car, so long as you cover a few important boxes, namely checking the loan terms to see if the vehicle is a secured or unsecured loan. 

Vehicles purchased with a secured loan need to be approved prior to trading in the vehicle, and may also be subject to some added fees. 

The process is much the same, though, whereby a dealership agrees to pay the outstanding loan amount, and will often communicate with the finance provider directly. 

If the car was purchased with an unsecured loan, you need to ensure that the trade-in value is more than the money you owe on the vehicle; your finance provider is unlikely to budge unless you can repay the loan amount and any fees still owing. 

Request a Trade-in Quote

If you’re looking for a quick, simple and obligation-free quote on your used car, you can use your trade-in enquiry form here.


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

Have any questions? Call us on 1300 719 925

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