10 Essential Steps for Trading in Your Vehicle

March 19th, 2024 by

Sales Consultant with Client Handing Off Keys


If you are considering trading your vehicle in for a new ride, you might have some questions. How much is my vehicle worth? How will I know if I am getting a fair offer on my trade? What should I bring with me and how should I prepare? Taking certain measures before you step foot in a dealership will help ensure you have a smooth, successful trade-in experience. At Jeff Belzer’s in Lakeville, Roseville, and New Prague, MN, we are dedicated to providing you with quality information to help you make informed decisions. Let’s get into the 10 essential steps to take before trading in your vehicle. 


1. Research Your Vehicle’s Value 

To begin the process of trading in your vehicle, you want to start by having a good baseline of what your vehicle is worth. Research the current market value of your vehicle with online tools like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. There are plenty of tools out there to use: these are some of the most popular and well-known. You can go on our website and use the Jeff Belzer’s Instant Cash Offer tool through Kelley Blue Book as well. Having a good understanding of the value of your vehicle will help in having informed conversations with dealers. 


2. Assess Your Personal Finances 

If you still owe money on your vehicle, log into your account through your financial institution or contact them to get a payoff quote. This tells you how much money you still owe on the vehicle. When you purchase a new vehicle, this amount will be tacked onto the buyer’s order, less the value of your trade. So, keep this amount in mind when searching for your new ride. Consider how much you can afford and how much you want to spend. This will ensure you are in a comfortable financial position when upgrading your car. 


3. Collect Multiple Quotes 

We encourage you to shop around for quotes, whether that be through dealerships or external tools and research. Visit a few different dealerships to get a quote on what your vehicle is worth. However, keep in mind the sale price of the new vehicle that you want. For example, one dealership could offer you $15,000 for your trade and a sale price of $55,000 for the new vehicle. Another dealership could offer you $10,000 for your trade but a sale price of $48,000. In this case, the dealership that offered you less is the dealership you would get a better deal at due to the lower sale price. Overall, getting multiple quotes allows you to come prepared and have an informed conversation regarding the value of your vehicle.  


4. Gather Vehicle Documents 

Track down all the documents relating to your vehicle, the most important being its title. If this is lost or destroyed, order a duplicate by contacting your DMV. If you live in Minnesota, click here to get the form. Also, if you have paid your vehicle off, make sure you have the lien card. This shows the release of the lien by the financial institution. You can contact them for a duplicate if you are missing yours. Service and maintenance records are great to gather, although not completely necessary. They show that you have kept up with your vehicle’s required maintenance and will show any additional service put in, such as tires or brakes. 


5. Address Minor Repairs 

If your vehicle has a minor scratch, dent, or repair, it would be recommended to fix it yourself. Dealers go through a re-conditioning process when they bring a vehicle in on trade, so anything you can do to mitigate that cost would be ideal for you. This will ultimately increase the value of your vehicle and the amount you will get for it on trade. If the repair is beyond the scope of your capabilities, bring it to a trained service professional. 


6. Clean Your Vehicle 

This one is simple and often overlooked. A clean vehicle, both on the inside and outside, will most likely bring the trade value up compared to a dirty car in need of extensive cleaning. This goes back to the reconditioning process. In addition, it may show a greater level of care and attention to the vehicle, which in turn means one with no issues or maintenance needed. 


7. Make an Appointment with a Dealer Sales Consultant Talking with Client

Once you have made the necessary preparations, make an appointment with a dealership that you have been in contact with and that you trust. Of course, selling your vehicle outright to a third party is an option. But if you have decided that going through a dealership is the best way to go, make an appointment. There, the dealer will walk you through the appraisal process along with the new vehicle purchase process. You have the right to negotiate on the trade-in value. Based on your prior research and knowledge, you can have an informed conversation with the dealer to get the best value. 


8. Bring all Necessary Items and Paperwork 

Before you head to the dealership, make sure you have everything you need for a smooth experience. Bring the paperwork mentioned above, like the title, lien release, and maintenance records. If you have someone listed on your title aside from yourself, make sure they are present so that they can sign the title. Also, bring a valid photo ID card for all title holders and proof of insurance for yourself. Aside from those personal documents, ensure you have all items related to the vehicle. This includes all sets of keys, remotes, and the owner’s manual. If you are missing any of these items, it may lower the value of your trade. 


9. Take Everything of Value Out of Your Trade 

Once all the paperwork is signed, you are set to take the items out of your trade and transfer them into your new vehicle. The garage door opener is always a forgotten item, so be sure to remember that! Sunglasses, water bottles, CDs, chargers, snow scrapers, and items hanging from your rearview mirror should be looked for as well. The last thing you want is a lost item and have to go back to the dealership. A thorough inspection of the car should ensure you have everything you want from your trade. 


10. Enjoy Your New Vehicle 

Now that the hard part is over, relax and enjoy your new ride – you deserve it! That said, we hope it was not a difficult process. We hope that these 10 steps will ensure that your trade-in process goes smoothly and efficiently. 


Although the thought of trading in your vehicle can seem overwhelming, our goal at Jeff Belzer’s is to walk you through the step-by-step process to inform and empower you. From researching your vehicle’s value to gathering quotes and paperwork to driving away in your new car, we want it to be a smooth and simple process. Visit us in Lakeville, New Prague, or Roseville or complete our online KBB Instant Cash Offer tool for an estimated value on your trade. Our extensive new inventory of Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram as well as our used inventory will be sure to have the perfect vehicle you are looking for. We look forward to helping you along your trade-in and buying journey! 


Sales Consultant and Client Shaking Hands



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