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Is condition worth ANYTHING on a trade-in?

I’m planning to trade in my 2001 Mercedes C240. I don’t want the hassle of selling it privately. It has 178,500 miles on it and anyone that knows cars knows that model turned out to be a bottomless money pit. However, mine has a like-new interior, the tires have more than half their wear, the spare has never been on the ground, the A/C & sound system work fine, and it had a front brake job 2 months ago. I figure that the bits and pieces are worth more than the car as a whole. Apparently and Yahoo Autos think so too because their trade-in estimate software returns a figure of $2700-3800. But the best offer I’ve had to trade (for a new Acura or Audi) is $800-1000. The dealers tell me that they sell them to wholesalers who are only interested in the mileage. Is this true? And is there any way I can get the value of all the bits & pieces? Could I sell it to a wholesaler directly and eliminate the middlman?

No one who isn’t going to own the car really cares about any of what you think gives it value. Mileage is probably the major thing.

I’d guess that the only way you’ll get near that internet trade-in value is by trying to sell privately.

There’s an auto auction near me where anyone can bring their car to sell. You might find one of these and end up doing better than the $800-1000. Your car will end up at auction anyway which is where the dealer is coming from.

"It has 178,500 miles on it . . . "
. . . Ouch !

Most sellers of cars would consider this vehicle to be used up. No doubt that most (all ?) new car dealers would wholesale this car and never put it on the lot.

A high miles car that is in above average condition/maintenance and for which the owner has service history records could be sold for more than what would be realized in a trade-in. Trade-ins are misleading, anyway. You aren’t really getting what they offer as a trade-in value.

"I don’t want the hassle of selling it privately."
Don’t want the hassle ? Then take a loss and trade it in . . .
. . . or find an independent car sales lot (or 2 or 3) that buys clean cars outright or find one that will sell on consignment.


When you trade in a car, there are two transactions: 1) you buy a car from the dealer; 2) the dealer buys a car from you. The dealer is less than enthusiastic about buying your car. You admitted that it is a money pit and used car buyers don’t want a money pit. A 2001 Toyota Corolla would appeal to more used car buyers than your Mercedes. Secondly, your Mercedes is too old to have a loan value. Thus, the prospective buyer must arrange his/her own financing.
This has always been the deal with luxury cars. Back in the early 1960s, a 4 year old VW Beetle and a 4 year old Cadillac in similar condition with about the same number of miles on the odometer would fetch about the same price, even though the Cadillac cost three times as much new. Used car buyers, particularly those that can only afford older cars are looking for basic transportation, not luxury.

The Edmunds discount for high mileage is $1000. That tells you it is undesirable to a dealer, especially a new car dealer, and even more so to any new car dealer but Mercedes Benz. I suggest that you try selling it to a used car dealer that specializes in imports. Look around for a lot with used Mercedes products on it and ask the owner if he is interested in your car. This cuts out all the middle-men. It will take a bit of work on your part, but maybe a lot less than selling to a private party. If they have little to no work to do and sell it for $5000, they just might give you $3000 for it. Once you have your deal set, then go buy your Acura.

It’s me, the originator of this thread. Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. I’ve tracked down an auto auction place and a place that just buys cars (presumably for auction purposes) and will talk to them tomorrow. New angle… does anyone have info on selling to a used parts dealer pr salvage yard?

If the engine runs well and the transmission and drivetrain are o.k., I wouldn’t scrap the car for parts at this point. If you could sell the car for $2000 and the person who bought the car would make it go another 30,000 miles, everyone should be happy.

If a couple of thousand dollars is a deal breaker, maybe you should hold on to your Mercedes.

But if you fear that it will become a money pit, $2000 isn’t going to get you much repair work.

That place that buys in order to auction it will not give you more than the Acura dealer. He’s going to do exactly what any new car dealer would, and that’s auction it. He’s going to low-ball you because he is taking a risk that the car might not sell for much. I hope I’m wrong, and that you get a satisfactory price. If so, just call me buzzkill.

That is a pretty low value for an '01 MB. But, you have a lot of miles on it. You really aren’t going to do substantially better on a trade in. You can sell it yourself, ebay or craigslists, and get about $1,500 more.

If you live near Minneapolis-St. Paul, I’ll give you $1200 for it.

Sorry Goldwing, I live in New Jersey.

I really don’t want to know who buys it because it’s already a money pit. I think Mercedes put about $8,000 worth of work into it while it was still under warranty and I’ve put at least that much into it since. I know one Mercedes service adviser who left for Lexus after 18 years with Mercedes because he was “tired of thinking up excuses to give C-Class owners.” And it’s not just the money, I’ve lost at least a month out of my life sitting in the waiting rooms of 7 dealerships in 6 states. The 2001-2005 C-Classes really trashed MB’s 100-year reputation for quality. On the other hand, the physical car (as opposed to the mechanical car) is great. I hate to see those pristine leather seats and the high-end sound system go cheap.

Thanks again to all who’ve responded.

In my very humble opinion and years of trading and selling cars, mileage and body condition mean the most and detailing the car and getting it as good looking as possible and selling it privately yourself has worked best. Hopefully the potential buyers don’t read much .

Is condition worth ANYTHING on a trade-in?

Being better than average will get you nothing at a dealer. They buy cars based on prices listed in a guide. Private sales are where emotion rules and superficial looks matter.