Negotiation tips for trading in your car

Negotiation tips for trading in your car

If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of trading in your car  versus selling it yourself and decided that the former option is a more convenient choice, good for you. You can still get a great deal if you make it as attractive a sell as possible, do your homework, and if you know which tactics to use to get the best price. Follow these tips on negotiating your way to getting a good deal. 

Step 1: Get your car sale ready

  •  Keep all your receipts and service records as this will show a dealer how well you’ve cared for the car.
  •  Spruce up the interior and exterior: Shampoo the carpets and have the engine professionally cleaned.
  •  Visit a dent specialist for small imperfections. Any cosmetic damage to your car can mean a low trade-in value. Get more tips here: 5 ways to increase the value of your car before selling

 Step 2: Gather information

  • Follow news and trends: For example, when petrol prices go up, there is more of a demand or fuel-efficient cars so the value of 4x4s might go down.Use common sense – a convertible will be more sought-after in summer and a 4x4 more desirable in winter.
  • Know your car’s value: You can do this by keeping an eye on websites such as, getting an independent evaluation.
  • Visit a few dealerships: Request a few estimates and keep copies of your quotes to use as a bargaining chip.
  • Know what you can afford: If you want to trade in your car for another car, use this rule of thumb. Budget the same amount in fuel, car insurance and maintenance as for your monthly instalment. In other words, if your instalment is R4000/month, budget for R8000/month.

Step 3:  Sitting down with a dealer

  • Start your conversation by letting the salesperson know that you've done some research. Say, for example, “I see on Autotrader that this Toyota goes for about R120 000.”
  • Always nail down the price for a new car before discussing the price of your trade-in. Of course dealers prefer to negotiate both prices at the same time, giving them the opportunity play the deals off each other. For example, if you insist on a great deal for the new car, they'll try to knock down your trade-in price. Or if you want more for your trade-in, they might try to charge you more for the new car. Be firm – you’re under no obligation to tell the dealer that you have another car to trade in.  
  • It’s a good idea to buy from a car dealership towards the end of the calendar month. Car dealers have sales targets to meet every month. If you do decide to trade in and buy at the same dealership, go towards the end of the month and you’ll have more bargaining power as they try harder to make the sale. 
  • Another option is to consider buying and selling a car at the end of the year when dealerships receive their new inventory, making them eager to get rid of the previous year’s models and, hopefully, keen to offer you more for your trade-in to encourage a sale.
  • Be prepared to walk away – but keep following up. Tell the salesperson that you’ll sign the paperwork the minute they agree to your target price, give them your contact details and leave. Then phone them the next day and week to remind them that you are still keen. If you’re lucky, you’ll eventually catch them at a moment when they need to make sales targets or when they just want to get the car off the floor, and will agree to your price.

If you want to ensure you are adequately covered, request a quote, speak to your broker or call us on 0860 444 444. Visit our car advice page for more useful tips.

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