How To Get The Most Out Of Your Car's Trade-In Value

By Alexi Falson on 12 Feb 2022
image for How To Get The Most Out Of Your Car's Trade-In Value Have you traded your used car in to upgrade to a new vehicle, only to be dissatisfied with how low the offer was? Trade-ins are a quick and easy way to move to a new vehicle, but dealerships often take advantage of those in a hurry and offer them low trade-in values in exchange.

If you’re looking to upgrade into the car of your dreams, it’s likely you’re asking yourself “what is the trade-in value of my car,” and the all-important question of how you can maximise the value of your trade-in when looking at a new purchase. For some, the convenience of a dealership trade-in outweighs all other factors.

The problem with a typical dealership trade-in though, is that the trade-in value of your vehicle is likely significantly less than the actual market value. 

Dealerships are more willing to take your used vehicle, so long as it’s on their terms, and they can re-sell it without any effort, and at a profit that you’ve missed out on. Today, we’re going to take a look at what you can leverage to get more bang from your trade-in buck, as well as take a look at the services out there that can take all the hassle out of the process and give you a fair trade-in price in exchange. 

Getting the Best Trade-in Price 

The trade-in value of your car is determined by a few significant factors. Obviously, the year it was manufactured, as well as the manufacturer and model have an impact on the price you’ll be offered for your used car. What also has a profound impact is just how well you’ve taken care of the vehicle over your time with it. Maximising the value of your trade-in comes in the form of proactive ownership that ensures the vehicle has been serviced on time, and through an accredited mechanic. 

Essentially, the person or dealership that you’re dealing with wants you to prove that you’ve taken great care of the vehicle, otherwise it represents a potential liability for them after they’ve made the purchase. 

To sum up, if you’re looking to get the maximum trade in value of your car, keep these factors in the front of your mind: 

  • Year, manufacturer and model 
  • Mechanical condition
  • Service history 
  • Bodywork condition
  • Recent mechanical inspection or service 
  • Any aftermarket additions or modifications 

Preparing Your Car for the Trade-In Price

The next step of the process is to get your vehicle ready for an evaluation of its trade in value. There’s no real secrets when it comes to this, simply clean your car yourself, or enlist the help of a car detailer that can buff-out any small scratches on the bodywork and make the interior look factory-fresh again. You’d be surprised just how many scratches on your doors, bonnet and bodywork can actually be removed with a cutting polish and some elbow grease. A small amount of effort improving the condition of your vehicle’s appearance can and will help you gain money when you’re trading in your vehicle. 

From here, it’s time to research. 

Get familiar with used car prices with a mix of real-life market research and platforms like Redbook that can give you a good idea of what price you can expect to receive for your vehicle. Keep in mind that a huge number of factors will impact your trade-in value, so you want to be both educated on prices but also willing to budge when the circumstances dictate, otherwise you’ll have trouble finding a buyer at your preferred price. 

Negotiating with Dealerships 

The most important thing to consider when selling or trading-in your vehicle is to shop around, and get as many quotes as possible. When you’re at the point of the process where you’re actually getting quotes, find out why a specific offer was made, and ask for any reasons why an offer is below the expected market price of the vehicle. Remember that dealerships often rely on the convenience of the transaction, and can, at times, offer you thousands less than the realistic market price to take it off your hands on the spot. Depending on your circumstances, this convenience might be too good to resist, but remember that OnlineAuto’s trade-in services can help organise someone to pick up your car for a hassle-free transaction, too. 

Don’t Forget About Sales Tax

It’s important to remember that there could be a sales tax for you to pay upon selling or trading-in your used vehicle. This does not apply for private buyers that have not used their vehicle for any business purposes, however the ATO says that, specifically for trade-ins, “if you are registered for GST and you trade in a vehicle used solely or partly for business, you must account for GST because this is a taxable sale.” If you are registered for GST and receive payment for the vehicle either partly or solely for business purposes, this should be reported on your activity statement.

There is also a transfer,  otherwise known as stamp duty fee, that will be paid upon transferring the vehicle to a new owner. This is paid by the new owner, but can at times be used as a bargaining chip for securing a better deal on any trade-in prices. 

Can OnlineAuto Trade My Car In?

OnlineAuto has one of Australia’s leading vehicle trade-in platforms, which provides you with a hassle-free quote within minutes of talking to one of our automotive experts. Better yet, we’ll organise the inspection and transport the vehicle off your property without you lifting a single finger. If you’d like to find out more about our trade-in services, click here.  

Trade-ins vs Selling Privately 

Typically, selling your vehicle privately can help you secure the best price, but as a rule, there are no guarantees. The problem is compounded when you take into account the amount of time you’ll spend managing the ad, communicating with prospective buyers, dealing with scammers, countering low-ball offers and having strangers arrive to your house that now have a clear picture of where the vehicle is parked, and the potential avenues to steal it in the future. 

It remains up to you, the seller, as to which avenue you would like to continue down. If time is a great concern of yours and you simply want to get the transaction finalised to upgrade to a new vehicle, trade-ins represent one of your best all-round options, so long as you’ve taken the points we’ve mentioned above into account. 

What is the Quickest Way to Sell My Car? 

The quickest way to sell your vehicle is either through a dealership trade-in, or through OnlineAuto’s trade-in platform, which can give you a hassle-free quote within minutes. From here, we’ll organise an inspection of the vehicle, and if you’re happy with the price, we’ll organise a way to take it off your hands as soon as possible. With all factors considered, trading in your vehicle through OnlineAuto’s trade-in portal is one of the most convenient options, and can help secure you thousands more than a dealership trade-in offer. 

Do I Need to Service My Vehicle At the Dealership To Maintain its Value? 

Despite what you might have heard, there is nothing to indicate that servicing your vehicle at the dealership will either void your manufacturer’s warranty terms, or impact the value of your vehicle when you choose to trade it in. So long as the mechanic you’ve taken your vehicle to is licensed and signed-off to work on that particular make of car, you will not impact the trade-in value of your vehicle if it has been maintained by a third-party mechanic. 


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.

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