Advice needed: low trade-in offers



I have a 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with approximately 72,500 miles on it. I am looking at trading it in for a 2007 Honda Fit. I have taken the car to a couple of local Honda dealerships for trade-in value appraisals and have received offers ranging from $2500 to $4500. Online research (Kelly?s, Edmund?s, etc.) tells me that my car, taking into account its current condition (it needs new tires and a little bit of touch up paint) is worth approximately $5000-5500 and is selling retail at $7500-9000. Are these dealerships taking advantage of me with low offers? Is there anything I can do to get a higher offer? Should I try to sell the car myself? Please help! Thanks!


Keep in mind that trading in an automobile involves two sales transactions: 1) you buy a car from the dealer; and 2) the dealer buys a car from you. Now the dealer want to sell you a car for as much as he can get you to pay. On the other hand, he wants to pay as little as possible for your car.

Most likely, the dealer will take your car to the auto auction and a used car dealer will buy the car and do any necessary work to make it presentable. The $4500 offer may not be too far out of line considering that the dealer has to replace the tires and do some detail work in order to sell the car.

You may be able to sell the car yourself at a better figure. However, the need for new tires and some touch up work my turn off a potential prospect.


Your car is auction fodder for a Honda dealer. I would either attempt to sell it yourself or simply hang onto it if possible and skip the new car. Domestic cars as you have found have very poor resale. This makes them bad deals new however incredible deals used.


He’s correct on all issues.


[b]You have to remember that Kelly’s, Edmond’s, etc, are consumer price guidelines. These don’t reflect the real National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) price guidelines that all dealers use to come up with the value of a used vehicle. So what you see on these web sites for used car pricing is nowhere near the NADA price guidelines that the dealers use.



if you have a Carmax in your area go to them to get a price on selling the car to them, they are usually higher then the dealer and of course, they hope you will buy a car from them but it does not matter on their offer, it gives you a good idea of what the car is worth.


Even NADA rates it at $6700 for an LS with no options in clean condition. If you take off $1000 for tires and paint, it’s still a lot more than the Honda dealer’s are offering. The dealers might be giving you the Fit at a low price, like invoice, and then try to make it up on the trade in. Try negotiating the Fit without a trade-in and see what they offer. There’s just a $100 discount of average off the MSRP. If your at invoce ($600 under MSRP) then that’s part of the low trade value.

Do consider selling the car yourself. Be aware that it takes work and could cost a bit to sell. You need to advertise, maybe in local papers. If your state has inspections for used cars, you’d do well to get the inspection certificate first. The new owner just needs to register it and start driving. This way you control the cost of repairs and don’t give the new owner a price break for the risk of an uninspected car.


You can sell it yourself, which is a hassle. You can also see if any of your local used car lots are interested in selling it on consignment, you may end up with a better deal.


My opinion is that it’s always better to sell a vehicle than trade it in. Trading it in just puts you in the middle of a confusing numbers game with the loser being you.

Those Blue Book figures, KB, etc are guidelines only and are usually overstated; by a bunch. Don’t expect to get 9 grand for a 6 year old Monte Carlo.

The real car values are in the books, printed and on-line, that the dealer subscribes to and you cannot access.


Go to your local credit union and get an estimate of your car’s value…remember this is just an estimate. Next go to car soup dot com and ebay while you’re at it and determine what your car is selling for…try to check in areas of the country other than yours.

If you wish to invest your time/money in selling this car get it looking good and buy new tires, try a local online sales posting first. Failing that go for ebay. In almost all cases you’re better off selling it yourself.


Go here:

You will need to change the zip code to get a more accurate price.

Print this and take it to your dealer who is offering such a low trade in value and ask why there is such a diffrence in what they offer and what is being showed. If they don’t have a good reason (which I can’t think of any) then walk away. No I would run!

Most banks that I deal with use the NADA Guide to figure out car values. It is usually lower than Kelly Blue Book or KBB. If you have a dealer that uses KBB to price their car then tries to use a NADA book to value your trade in car then I would run from these places also. But as mentioned earlier I would try to sell your car yourself.


Trading a car in is the worse financial transaction you can make. Dealers play numbers games to make it LOOK like they are giving you a fair deal. You’re best bet is to sell it privately.

Actually you’re best bet (if the Malibu is running good) is to keep it until it dies.


Remember, your car is not worth what various online guides say it’s worth. Rather it’s worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.

As of now you’ve only sought out one class of buyers (Honda dealers), where dealers in general have no incentive to pay you a lot for your car.