Your car just isn’t worth what you think it is. Apologies for being blunt, but that’s just the way it is.
When I look back on my very first car, a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, I think of it fondly. I mostly reminisce about the quirks- the rust bubble on the driver door that looked like a bullet hole, the speedometer that only went to 75 miles per hour- that fun stuff. I don’t tend to think about fuel lines that were rusted through, the leaky brake lines, or the blown rear shocks. I loved that car. Part of me still does.
It’s still running to this day, by the way.
I look back and realize it wasn’t worth a lot. But I loved that car. It took a lot for me to part with it. It wasn’t the money, it was the emotion. A kid and his first car- that’s a strong bond.
This profession has allowed me to alleviate myself of those emotions when it comes to getting rid of a vehicle. No longer do I feel that strong emotional connection to the car I’m driving. When I first started in sales and would do an initial appraisal, I’d get tons of reasons from clients as to why his/her vehicle was worth so much, even though when I looked at it, I wondered how much the tow to auction would cost. It never really made any sense to me until I started thinking about that 1987 Oldsmobile I owned.
Your car is not worth what you think it is. You have to think objectively when you decide to trade in your vehicle. Reputable dealers aren’t looking to screw anybody- that’s just not how it works. There are a lot of things that go into an appraisal on the end of the dealership. Past performance of vehicles in the market, book values, finance rates, any required maintenance, potential body work- these are just some of the different things we have to evaluate.
I encourage you to use sites like KBB.com and AutoTrader.com for an idea of your vehicle’s trade-in value before you ever hit the lot. But please, be realistic. That car you’re driving hasn’t been considered “Excellent Condition” in the last five years. Be strong, lose the emotion, and you’ll be able to negotiate a fair trade-in value on your vehicle.