Bad car deals, Is it just common to get ripped on a trade in?

I know I may be busting open a can of worms on this one, but does any one ever really beat the car dealer? Getting 10k on your trade and then them relisting it at 18.5k Seems a bit drastic a mark up to me.

You can look at car sites, like edmunds, get trade in value, private seller value and dealer price. Dealer may drop ir $1500, they have to house it, bring it up to date and warranty it, hopefully. Do the best you can do and let it go. The what ifs can ruin your life.

It should be common sense that selling a car to someone who wants to drive it is going to fetch a lot more money than selling a car to a business which refurbishes and resells cars. Therefore, if you have a car which is worth $19k to an end-user, but only $10k as a trade-in, then you should consider selling it yourself for the private-party price, which is probably closer to $15k for this hypothetical car.

There are estimated reconditioning costs considered when taking in a used vehicle. Typically, $2500 to $3000 for recon. $250 for detail and $500 to $1000 for dent repair, wheel repair and bumper repair. The in-and-out prices seem reasonable.


You are more likely to get a better bottom line if you know what your car would sell for and what the cost of the new car is. Bottom line the total price is the bottom line regardless of what they say they gave you for the trade. I wanted a car and spent 6 months trying to get a better deal and finally concluded I should have just taken the deal I had six months before.

OTOH no one ever admits to getting a bad deal. At least I have never heard anyone admit it.

Now think of this. If you had ten friends or neighbors that wanted you to take their cars and sell them for you, after a while what kind of a commission would you require to do that? Especially if you had to foot the money to pay your friends and neighbors for their cars while they sat in your driveway?

If you were satisfied with the price they gave you on the trade, the price they resell it for is none of your business. The dealer is not a charity, they have lots of overhead. They may also offer a warranty on the car. I’ll bet you did not give the dealer a warranty.


This is why you get offers from a few dealers for your old car.


The simple answer is; Almost never.
The dealer is a pro, you are an amateur. They are buying from you wholesale, and selling retail. The trade price was high enough to get you to say OK, and the sales price is as high as they can get… which right now, is pretty high!

I have a buddy who never trades but sells his own cars. He always ends up detailing the cars, fixing the things wrong and replacing worn out stuff. He also endures a parade of tire-kickers that waste his time and annoy him. He always gets more than trade-in for his trouble.

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I found Carmax as a way to get a genuine offer. When I could not get a private party to beat the offer, I sold it to Carmax.
In these days of inflated car prices, I would definitely list it myself for a private sale.


If that’s the case why would you trade in for $10K instead of selling for $18K?

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Trading in a car involves two transactions. You are buying a car from the dealer and the dealer is buying a car from you.
Twice in trying to trade in a car, I have gotten a lower price by not trading in a car. In 1973, I had a worn out 1965 Rambler. I found a 1971 Ford Maverick Grabber at a Dodge dealer. The price was $2495. When I asked the price if I traded in the Rambler, the price was $2200, but if I would take the Rambler home, I could have the Maverick for $2000. I bought the Maverick and sold the Rambler for $250. In the fall of 1995, I found a really nice 1993’Oldsmobile 88 for $14, 995. The dealer was willing to trade for my 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass for $14,500. However, I could buy the Oldsmobile 88 straight out for $14,200. I bought the Oldsmobile 88 and in 2011, I sold the Oldsmobile Cutlass for $500. I used the Cutlass as a town car for 11 years

Keep in mind that they might end up selling it for less than $18,500, although I know that’s less likely right now.

I agree with the comment that in the future you should see what CarMax offers, as they seem to have a reputation of offering a reasonably fair price.

Don’t forget that in some states there’s a sales tax advantage to trading in your car at the time of purchasing a new car, which you give up if you sell the car separately yourself.

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Yes, that plus less hassle and not having to buy a new set of license plates.

As others have said… just because the car is listed for $18k doesn’t mean it will sell for $18k. In fact, you’ll never know what “your” car will sell for.

Worry about something else. Enjoy your new car.


When I bought my current car, the dealer offered me $5,000.00 for my trade-in. Got an offer from CarMax for $7,500.00. This might be an alternative (unless you think you can sell it privately for the same amounts as the dealer will; but that that overprice I’m pretty sure the dealer will end up selling it for a somewhat lesser amount).

This isn’t anything new. Back in 2016 when I bought my current Mustang and traded in my old one. They put my trade in on lot priced at over twice what they gave me for it. The things that were objections (reasons for not giving me top dollar for my trade) suddenly became features per the new window sticker (aftermarket supercharger, suspension/brake mods, etc.). They also said that they would have to put new tires on it, if they wanted to sell it (the tires were showing 4/32’s IIRC, so they were very close to needing replacement), but of course it still had the same worn tires that I had traded it in with. They didn’t even detail it or anything, I looked it over while it was sitting on the lot, and there was still a bit of dried up sealant that I had missed from two weeks prior when I was cleaning it up prior to trade in.

This par for the course in the car business. Car dealers typically make more money on used cars than they do new cars.


Yes, they either screw you somewhat on the trade or they don’t come off of the price of the car you’re buying as much as they could have if they’d given you less for your trade.

I was offered $2500 on my 98 Dodge Ram as a trade in on another (used) truck years ago. I wound up selling the same truck (somewhat accidentally to be honest, long story) 2 years and 20k miles later with worn out tires and a recently stuck open thermostat (which I did mention to the buyer) for $5500. Markets were not like they are today, the truck had lost book value over those 2 years.

Kinda ticked me off at the time that they only offered “a quarter” as the salesman said. When I drove their truck, it had a check engine light on. The salesman said “show me a used truck that doesn’t have a check engine light”. Ummm, the one I drove here that’s only worth “a quarter”…go look at that one. No CEL on it!

You cannot “beat” the dealer. He does not have to sell you a car. Dealers mak much more money selling your trade in than they do selling you a new car because anyone with a computer can find out what the dealer paid for a new car.

When buying a new car, I let them value my old car, but then ask for a clean deal price for the new one and they always express disappointment when I decide to not trade in the old one.

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The OP accepted the offer for his old truck and purchased a used truck, nothing to do with new vehicle prices.

Ok, how do I find that info? I have a computer! Or are you just referring to MSRP?