The art of the trade-in

If a customer wants to purchase a car, they can lower the price of their new car by trading in their old car.

It’s a simple exchange that’s made difficult because everyone believes themselves to be an expert, especially in areas in which they have absolutely zero knowledge or experience. Coincidentally, every customer I had was an expert in valuing the price of used cars.

“This car is worth $15,000 at the least,” says a customer about his 1997 Buick LeSabre with 120,000 miles on it and stained, cloth seats that look like the aftermath of a murder.

“Listen, you’re not being fair. This car has low mileage. It’s worth at least $12,000,” says another customer whose 2012 Toyota Camry is in mint condition if you look past the massive crater in the right-front side of the car.

“I know I could resell this for more than what you’re offering,” says a guy who’s about to see his entire world get crapped on by reality.


i used this truck for 10 years and it’s never let me down!!! its in mine condition and has its original air bgs, breaks and seatbelts. only 98-thousand miles on it. needs new air filter. also needs an oil change and transmission fluid.


My favorite line always began with “Well, Kelly Blue Book says…”

Kelly Blue Book is a vehicle valuation company that gives you an idea of what a car is worth based on a variety of factors like make, model, mileage and damage. It’s a basic estimation but people quoted it like the law and ALWAYS quoted the “Great Condition” price.

“Kelly Blue Book says $15,000! My car is spotless and runs like a dream.”

“Your car screeches like a banshee when it shifts gears and it’s covered in scratches.”

“There are no scratches on my car.”

“Sir, I’m looking right at them. I can point them out to you.”

“No, that’s probably hair.”

“I’m rubbing the spots. It’s not hair. Those are scratches. It looks like you drove over a bunch of cats and they tried to climb up the bumper as you drug them for miles.”

“Fine………..$14,500. But I’m serious! That’s the lowest I’m going!”

Trading in a car is not difficult if you come into the deal with a sense of reality and a basic understanding of how a business works. A dealership is not a charity. It’s better than charity because the dealership actually gives you money for your trade-in, which usually goes towards lowering the price of the new car.

People wanted $18,000 for their trash bag on wheels but didn’t think a brand-new luxury SUV is worth more than $14,000.

That’s the kind of bartering I dealt with as a salesman.

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