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The Trade-In Process (Part 1)

For this post, I decided it was important for me to do some research on the subject considering that this is one in which I can see dealers handling the process differently. I was not necessarily surprised to see a lot of misinformation, but I was surprised to see some of the tactics that some dealers use (or have used) in the trade process. Since there is a lot of information to be discussed about this process I have decided to break this topic into separate posts so that I am neither too brief on the subject nor too long winded on it. For today, I am simply going to give you a snapshot of how the trade process should. Then, I will tell you a few things to absolutely not put up with that I found during my research.

The first thing that happens when you bring in your trade is that we will get all of the information off of the vehicle so that we can appraise it accurately. First, we will get the make, model, trim level (please, please, please refer to my blog post “What’s In A Name” about this subject), mileage, and VIN (vehicle identification number) of the vehicle. I will also typically do a quick walk-around of the vehicle myself to both make sure the appraiser sees any visual damage on the vehicle and also to make sure that he notes all of the additional options your vehicle has that adds to the value (large dealerships will usually have someone whose main job is to do the appraisals whereas our Sales Manager does all of ours).

Next, we will use the VIN number to run a vehicle report history. This history tells us multiple things about your vehicle including number of owners, number of accidents, and an odometer check making sure there has been no rollback on mileage. There is other information available such as if there were any hail damage reports, water damage reports, or, more importantly whether there is a salvage title on the vehicle.

As you might expect, an odometer rollback is never a good thing. This means that it is now and forever impossible to tell exactly how many miles a vehicle has on it. This can make a vehicle very hard to sell and therefore will likely decrease the vehicles value. Number of accidents is not as important as the severity of an accident, but if the number is high it can impact value. The importance of the number of owners depends on the age of the vehicle. If the vehicle has 4 owners and is fifteen years old, that is pretty normal, but if a vehicle is only five years old and has 4 owners that can be a sign of trouble. Not to mention that one of the first questions people ask is how many owners a vehicle has. For vehicles that are five years and newer people typically only want to hear that the vehicle has one owner; maybe two.

While the salesperson is running these reports and making sure you are comfortable, the appraiser will be out driving your vehicle. Before they go out they will do a quick walk-around of the vehicle looking for any damage to the vehicle and looking at tire wear. After that, they will make the same trip on every drive taking your vehicle through rough roads to listen for something like bad shocks. Then they will take it on the highway to listen for sounds that a rougher and louder road might cover up like tire noise.

While they are out they will also check to make sure everything works such as the air conditioning, radio, automatic windows, etc. This may seem like ways for the dealer to de-value your vehicle, but it is more so that they will know what they will have to fix. Try thinking about it like this: If you were going to a reputable dealership to buy a pre-owned car would you not expect the air, radio, and windows to work? The dealership will have to fix these little problems which will obviously cost them money.

After all of this, the appraiser will take this information and use several resources to determine the value of your vehicle so that they can make you a trade offer. I will discuss this trade evaluation process in the next blog post so that you know exactly how they will come up with your value and I will give you some tips on how to be ready for this step in the car buying process.

I will end this post with two things I read about in my research of the trade process you should absolutely not put up with. Walk out if these things happen to you at a dealership:

1. DO NOT let the salesperson or the appraiser do a walk-around of the vehicle and invite you to be with them for the purpose of pointing out every ding, dent, or minor blemish to your vehicle. They are merely trying to reduce the value of the vehicle in your eyes. This is just flat-out disrespectful. With the internet age and impact of social media, I think this tactic has likely gone by the wayside since they don’t want people openly sharing this distasteful treatment.

2. DO NOT let a dealership lose or hide your keys. I cannot believe I even had to type that, but apparently some dealerships will purposely lose your keys (I heard of one that openly threw the keys on the roof!) so that you will be at the dealership longer and they can keep negotiating with you  and wear you down. Again, I imagine that this has disappeared in the social media age, but the fact that I read it on several current articles absoutely floored me.

Please leave me a comment if either of these things have happened to you.

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