In a world run by dollar signs, it can be difficult to trust your own cousin let alone the sales team at your local car dealership. So, when the time comes to sell your vehicle at a dealership and make an upgrade, you may be left wondering, “Is this salesperson offering the most money for my trade-in?” Oftentimes the answer is “no,” as most people aren’t taking the proper steps to secure an above-market quote on their trade-in. Here are ten secret tips to ensure you are getting the most cash from an auto dealer when trading your car in South Florida (or anywhere, really).

1. Research Current Resale Values

It’s imperative – we repeat: imperative – that you know your vehicle’s resale value before bringing it into a dealer. Review your vehicle’s Blue Book® Value, Black Book value, or seek an anonymous trade-in appraisal quote from your local dealership. Understanding the low- and high-end values for your car is the first and most important trade-in rule of all.

2. Never Tell Dealers How Much Your Car’s Worth

Even If you’ve crunched the numbers and identified the exact value of your vehicle, don’t be the first to say that number aloud. Treat that trade-in value like it’s “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” (Voldemort).

Instead, let the salesperson start the negotiations with a number. From there, you may be able to figure out if they’re trying to rip you off, which in turn gives you the advantage going into negotiations. It pays to be knowledgeable and patient.

3. Clean & Detail

Some dealers will say you don’t need to clean a trade-in before bringing it in for an appraisal. This is just another tactic dealers use to keep trade-in values low and profits high. Definitely clean your car, inside and out, before getting it physically evaluated at the dealership. If you don’t you risk losing hundreds or thousands of dollars.

4. Fix Dents & Scratches

A clean car makes a great first impression, but a car free of dents is where the money’s at. Dealers will oftentimes knock dollars off a trade-in if they notice auto body repairs are needed. Even though the cost for their auto technicians to make these repairs is negligible, dealers will go by the pricing book when assessing a trade-in.

5. Document Repairs

Keep all receipts of auto repairs, service, or maintenance performed on your vehicle. Bring those documents to your trade-in assessment appointment. Dealers will be more likely to give you more money for a trade-in if they can trust the owner, and having a list of services can reduce the time they put into the evaluation.

6. Ditch the Aftermarket Accessories

Rear spoilers make sense in a Fast and the Furious film, but when you’re trying to sell your car at a dealership, those aftermarket add-ons may lower your trade-in value. Personalized vehicles are a difficult product for dealers to sell, and removing those aftermarket parts takes extra labor time. It’s in your best interest to replace any of these custom car accessories with stock parts prior to visiting your dealership.

7. Get Numerous Online Trade-In Appraisals

As you seek to find a new home for your car, you’ll find that trade-in values fluctuate from dealer to dealer. This is due to countless factors, including region-specific popularity of your vehicle’s model or body style, dealership inventory, previous sales data, and general supply and demand.

To get the best trade-in offer for your car, you should request quotes from dealerships within 50-100 miles of your location. For instance, if you want to trade in a car in Miami, be sure to contact South Florida car dealers in places like Florida City, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, and all the way up to Stuart and Ft. Pierce, FL.

8. Trade In Separately

A good rule of thumb when trading in your vehicle at a dealership is to mention your trade after negotiating the price of the vehicle you intend to purchase. This is a common negotiation tactic of buyers, as salespeople will usually attempt to lump trade-in values into the “bottom-line” sales price of the new vehicle. Obviously, you’d rather start with that “bottom-line” price before even subtracting the value of your trade-in. 

9. ABC – Always Be Selling

When you trade a car at a dealership, roles are reversed and you get to be the salesperson! Earn your Academy Award by acting the part. Be assertive with your terms and expectations. Sell your vehicle’s positives and downplay its negatives. Don’t give them a reason to lowball you on an appraisal; and if they do, just walk away from the table like Rick Moranis did with his acting career.

10. Choose the Right Time & Season

Although this is more of an advanced vehicle trade-in tip, it’s also an important one: don’t expect top dollar for your vehicle if the season isn’t right or the market isn’t humming.

For example, a used Honda Civic might get you top dollar in Miami, but dealers in places like rainy Seattle or Juneau, Alaska, will be reluctant to pay that same price.

Similarly, in regions that see four distinct seasons—as opposed to the two here in South Florida—shoppers will inevitably be drawn to the vehicles that work better in those seasonal conditions; SUVs like the Honda Pilot will get you more trade-in cash during the winter months, while vehicles like the Honda Odyssey will sell better right before summer break.

This works in reverse, too; attempt to buy vehicles that are less in demand to maximize your trade-in cash. It’s all about supply and demand!


Hopefully, with these tips in your noggin, you’ll be better prepared to get the most money back for your trade-in. If you need any additional assistance or would like to trade a vehicle in at one of our South Florida Honda dealerships, simply reach out to your nearest sales team or request an online quote. With locations up and down the coast of South Florida, we make it simple to buy, sell, and trade in vehicles, large and small.