Are we getting shafted with this trade in?

Hi again, I appreciate everyone’s input from my earlier question… thank you all !

So we are in negotiations for the subaru Outback and we have an agreed upon price that seems to be the lowest quote I am getting. After doing some research on consumer reports, edmunds, etc. and taking into account the 2000 cash back and invoice amounts listed (not sure how accurate these really are), it seems like we are getting a decent deal. I am certainly not trying to keep them from not making any profit…but I do want the best deal I can get. I have emailed numerous dealerships and so far no one can beat it and one dealership told me i better run and get it at the other dealership for the price we got before it is gone…so hopefully the deal is decent.

Anyway… regarding the trade… we are trying to trade our golf GLS which is automatic with 118,000 miles. It runs great with no mechanical problems, even the dealership said they thought it ran great when they evaluated it. The only issue is a small dent on the drivers side door. It is more of a deep scratch from a car brushing against it. Someone pulling out of a parking space at my husbands office did this and we couldn’t find out who did it… we never fixed it. The dealership actually said it wasn’t a big deal, shockingly, because we thought they would really try to use that as the reason to negotiate our price down. They actually said it would cost only a couple hundred to fix it.

Anyway…they initially offered 2,500 for the car… and we went back to them and said we expected a minimum of 3,000. Bad idea I guess I should said something higher to finally get to 3,000. Well the most they say they will give us now is 2,750 (meeting us half way supposedly).

I am frustrated because Kelly blue book… said 2800 would be if it was in “fair” condition and i think it listed 3500 for good condition. Nada yellow guide said 3350 for a rough trade in. $4175 for an average trade in. 4850 for clean trade… with the retail being 6300.

When I go to, I am seeing similar cars with asking prices in the 5-6k range.

We didn’t want to try and sell it ourselves due to the hassle and the dent… but we also don’t want to give it away. It runs well, but probably will need some expensive maintenance soon.

I know how dealers try to make their money back when you get the car price to where you want it by negotiating the trade lower.

Do people really think the KBB really displays typical trade in values? Why are the nada guides higher?

Would we be foolish to let the car go for 2750? We are kind of bummed out about this.

Thanks again

I am be the wrong person to answer, here, because I nearly always sell my cars rather than confuse the new car deal with a trade in.

The issue is, if you believe you can sell your car in the condition you describe (with dent) for more then $2750, then that is the course of action you should take. The risk is selling for less than $2750. So, how much of a risk taker are you? How many ads do you want to arrange for and place? How many phone calls do you want to handle, and how many broken appointments to see the car are you willing to cope with?

I could successfully sell all my used cars for more than the best trade value, which is why I choose that course of action.

Those price guides are just that; a guide only. The dealers also work off another NADA guide and this is one that you are not privy to. It’s a dealers only guide.

I don’t know what year your vehicle is but it is well over the magic 6 figure mileage mark, has a dent, and according to you, “will need some expensive maintenance soon”. That comment leads me to think the car has not been well-maintained and odds are the dealer knows this too.
This means that your vehicle is simply a well used car to be sent off to auction or consigned to a back lot somewhere.
Odds are the car would be considered “fair” condition.

I’m of the opinion that one should generally try to sell their car in advance and avoid trading it in. The numbers game is murky enough without throwing a trade-in value into the mix.

Hi thanks for the info… I think my husband has had most of the maintenance up until recently, just sometimes a little later then we should I would guess. So there could be a little deferred maintenance on a few things, but not stuff we altogether did not plan to do. It really does run well… I think the expensive stuff to come is brakes, exhaust, tires…etc.

It is a 2001…

For a car that’s probably going to auction, 2750 isn’t too bad (for a dealer). I bought a 2006 Sienna and was going to use a 98 Windstar for trade. The Windstar had 98k miles and was in very good condition. Windstars were being listed by used car dealers for 5.5 to 6.5k. The dealer wasn’t really interested in the Windstar and offered 2k for it. They made it plain it was going straight to auction. I didn’t take offense and decided to sell it privately.

It took a few months to sell but I got a reasonable price for it and the buyer got a bargain. If the dealer had offered 3k or so for it, I would have taken the offer to avoid the aggravation of a private sale.

If you like the Subaru and the price is right, don’t agonize over a couple of hundred dollars. Or you can just walk away and look at another car.

Good luck,


Take some digital pics of the car and list it on Craigslist. I sold a car that way and it was an easy process. You should be able to get from $3,500 to 4,000 for the car and at that it is a good deal for the buyer too.

Document all the service records and selling it should be very quick and easy.

thanks, we tried this recently and got no interest. We listed it for 5,000 which might be why…but we figured people might try to haggle.

I am feeling a little pressure right now because the cash back deal with subaru ends on the 31st… and I am not feeling positive.

Anyone know whether subaru frequently offers these cash back deals?

The values in Edmunds, NADA, KBB vary and sometimes seem on the high side. I sold my car for less than KBB, but more than trade in value by about $1,200. Your price of $5,000 was too high, for that price you needed to fix the door and make sure all the tires were new etc.

If the dealer gives you $2,750 for the car that is the starting point for them. Any more money they put into conditioning the car for sale adds to the price. If they send it to wholesale they might even get less than the amount they give you.

If you can’t get the new car and take a few weeks to sell the old one then you are stuck doing the trade in. The dealer’s price isn’t great, but it is fair considering the risk they are taking on what they can sell the car for or get for it at an auction.

thanks, you are right, we started too high. In retrospect I wish we sold it for 4000 or even 3500 privately a few weeks ago.

I am so torn. We need a car that is bigger, because my mazda protege and my husband’s golf just are not providing enough room any longer. I love the old subaru foresters, because they are smaller and I think I would be comfortable driving the smaller car… but for the price difference of a recent low mile used vs. a new forester it almost doesn’t seem worth it. It kills me because i really like the old foresters better. I am afraid to drive the new one, it seems like a boat. So the outback seems like a compromise. It is probably just as long and wide though.

I am so torn here…I am also worried about how much this new outback is going to cost.

thanks for your help!

I really liked the old forester, but am afraid it will provide no more room in the backseat for my son’s car seat. It looked tiny in the back, no better probably than my mazda. I enjoyed driving the one i test drove. I just can’t buy the new one, it is just to huge for me (that is why we moved on to considering the outback…which in reality is probably not that much smaller). Also I have this issue with feeling like there is not enough of a price difference to warrant buying a used vs. a new… and the fear of buying someone else’s problems…this keeps me from wanting to buy a used forester.

I am sure the outback will feel equally huge to me as well.

This is awful, how does anyone ever decide what to buy???

Cost per mile to own and operate. It’s the only thing that matters. We are in a deep recession. You are getting a great deal on the Subaru (if you like Subaru’s). But don’t expect to get top dollar for your VW for the same reasons. MAYBE you could get $3500-$4000 for it and maybe you can’t. I’m surprised the dealer would even take the Golf on trade.

Not sure if you realize but the Outback/legacy is being replaced with a full design soon(2010’) that is a bit larger but priced the same at sticker with small gain in fuel efficiency. So the incentives will remain the same on 09’s if not better until they are all sold.

I have to suggest that the question is not what any book says, but it is what you and the buyer of your car say.   "True Value" is the value of any object based on a willing buyer and willing seller both free to buy or sell and not under any external force agree to.  

Buying guide numbers may be helpful for getting the dialogue started, but they will never be the true answer because such sales are the source of the numbers in those book, not the other way around. 

Don't bother looking to see what price someone has put on a similar car since that car does not have a willing buyer at that price or it will not still be on the lot. 

You need to be a willing seller so you need to consider what the car is worth to YOU and not anyone else.  That is the minimum you should sell for.

I’m curious about how Andrew got pricing information on the 2010 Outback/Legacy.

I recently inquired at the dealership, and my longtime saleswoman stated that they had no information as of yet regarding pricing. She speculated that the prices might remain similar, but that in order to accomplish this, the manufacturer would play games by “decontenting” the cars in order to make some currently standard equipment optional.

Andrew–Where did you get your pricing information?