Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Should I fix the brakes before trading in my car?

Hi, I have a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country Mini Van. We are planning to buy a new van or car this weekend, but are wondering if we should fix the brakes before trading in or selling at Carmax or something. The car is in okay shape,there is some rust on the body, and the engine is a little noisy, and probably needs something. We aren’t sure whether the cost of getting new rotors and pads (I’m guessing $600) is worth it or if we should trade it in as is. Full disclosure, the brakes are pretty squeaky, so the need for pads and rotors is pretty apparent. Thanks so much!

In my opinion, you would not get $600 more trade in value out of it if you fixed them. Rust, noisy engine will still be there. Kiss it goodbye and thank it for serving you well.

I agree, spend no more money, except maybe on a wash and vacuum. I would either trade or sell to a dealer. With those problems I’d rather not sell it to an individual.

The only time I would do this would be if I could do it my self, and the discs were ok, so I’d just put on a set of pads for under $100. Doesn’t sound like that’s the situation.

There is no reason to replace the brakes on a vehicle that may be going to the salvage yard. Rust, hail damage, high miles and engine noise, a dealer would probably choose not to recondition this one for retail sale.

With all that going on, do you think it has any value at all? Will the dealer give us anythingfor it?

Whatever he’s giving you is actually ‘on paper’ - most dealers will ‘allow’ $500 to $1000 off calling it a trade, where a good negotiator can get that amount off without a trade.
I was buying a used Caddy once from a Caddy dealer, and asked what he would give me for a very worn out trade. He looked at it and said he wasn’t interested; didn’t want it on his lot, didn’t want to bother taking it to auction, just plain didn’t want it. I said my magic number was really low. He finally took another $500 off if I DIDN’T trade it in. So I drove it across town to the junkyard and got $500 for it and a ride back.

Just trade as it is. You will never know exactly what you were given for the vehicle, all that matters is that you will have replaced it and the amount you now have to spend is acceptable to you.

I said this many times, don’t tell any one the money details because your relatives, co-workers and friends will all say you paid too much.


We can’t tell you what you will get for the van. Take it in today and ask what they will pay for it. That is basically the trade-in value. You can sell it to them tomorrow when you pick up your new(er) vehicle. I’m sure the estimate today will be good tomorrow.

Thanks everyone.