What do you do when you’re finally ready to part with your car and it’s time to decide whether to trade it in to a dealership or conduct a private sale?

Well, if you’re like most people, you’re probably going to start researching trade in, private party, and retail pricing on similar vehicles to the one you have. But wait, you realize that not every car fits that mold! You might have the rare V6 Turbo option and most people that year got the 4 cylinder model. Or, you added a ton of accessories after the fact, so your vehicle can’t be worth what the books all say because you invested $3400 in tonneau covers, window tint, custom wheels, lighting kits, towing receivers, and the like so obviously your vehicle will be worth more than the book value, right? Wrong!!!!! That $800 moonroof option you had to have when you bought it, only accounted for $50 in the total appraisal you received. Remember, not all trades will have the same mileage or physical condition.

Book values are compiled from a number of criteria and were originally conceived to align with a “fair market system” for insurance reasons originally. Since that time, consumers have pillaged vehicle evaluation sites quoting what they see printed as the true gospel value and are often mislead because of several factors.

To truly know what to expect, I suggest knowing your margins both high and low and be willing to compromise if you can get close to an agreement with the other party. If book value says your car should trade out for $12,367 & your dealer comes back with a few items for improving the condition to make it appealing to a future buyer they would sell to, then I’d suggest considering the offer that comes back very seriously if you’re not wanting to drive that old car anymore provided that it would come back anywhere in the vicinity of a fair market value to you. Even if the offer comes back at $11,000 or $1,367 less than you estimated based on someone else’s online research.

The bottom line is that there are several companies online that all boast claims of being the definitive authority in online appraisals, but that’s never what you get. What you have instead are several sites that generally have very similar figures calculated to represent trade value based on odometer readings, age, condition, and trim level. In other words, five different online sites will generally generate five different quotes as to what they say your vehicle should be worth.

If you are selling, be prepared to deal with people who will scrutinize your vehicle over what you’d consider small things and then be prepared to let them meet with you, test drive your car, negotiate, stall, and exchange documentation for the vehicle. (Note: If you are going to let someone test drive your car, be sure to get their driver’s license info and have your insurance in order in case there would be an accident while they are behind the wheel.) Don’t forget that when you deal with the public, you will often have to sacrifice time that you might want to otherwise have to yourself in order to negotiate your sale! Sometimes this is the defining factor in whether or not to trade to a dealer. And remember in some states, it is even beneficial to give up perceived private party sales for trade in value if you make it up in tax credit by be taxed on the difference in trade vs. sale price of your new vehicle instead of being taxed on the amount of the purchase vehicle solely.

If you are a saavy shopper, check out all the most popular sites first. Take notes when you visit based on the criteria I just outlined. Consider your vehicle history. (Note: Accidents in the vehicle history and Carfax reports with accidents listed will skew the data you’re researching, so be prepared for a dip in the offer if that is the case. Also, if you are trading a rebuilt or salvage vehicle, these sites won’t have data to support an evaluation.)

When you’re finally ready to visit a dealership in person, make sure you are dealing with a sales professional and not a typical “salesman”. You should be able to tell pretty quickly by the way that they carry themselves. Are you being treated with respect and courtesy? Is the salesperson inquiring on your likes, dislikes, usage needs, driving habits, and any changes that may be soon to happen like parental expectancy or change in job requirements or disabilities? Did this person highlight your key areas of interest in the walk around and demonstration? Did they open up the hood? (Note: 90% or higher won’t show you what’s under the hood unless you ask. A true professional will show you what’s under there for reasons of driving home the benefits of the safety systems, reliability, durability, and easiness of knowing what to possibly be aware of should you need to get under the hood for any reason, such as blown fuses, refilling the washer fluid tank, etc.)

If you ensure that you are dealing with a pro, they will thoroughly go over the vehicle they are attempting to sell to you and be equally as thorough in evaluating your trade for the highest and fairest possible value.

A truly great sales professional will make your time spent with them as enjoyable as they can and provide an exceptional delivery with follow up and service long after you leave the showroom.

Thanks for checking out this post. Please leave any thoughts on the subject in the comments below or email me at wmccormick@toyota.bertwolfe.com.

How To Properly Care For Your Vehicle

Take these tips to heart when taking care of your vehicle!
Take these tips to heart when taking care of your vehicle!

No matter what time of year it is, there is something that everyone has to maintain to keep up appearances and performance whether that be your home, your furnace, your boat, or your vehicle.

In this article, we’re going to focus on your vehicle.

What kind of condition is your vehicle in right now? Think about it. You might say,”It’s just been cleaned.” But is it really? How long has it been since you last looked under the hood? Did you know that a thorough detailing is recommended at least yearly?

It’s always best to see a trusted professional, but here’s a few tips to keep you running smooth for as long as you have your vehicle.

  1.  Keep factory recommended maintenance up to date! Vehicles are designed to have periodic health check ups just like us and preventative maintenance is vital to long lasting vehicular health. And, remember that time is also a factor, not just the mileage! If you’ve only driven 1,000 miles over 6 months, check the oil anyway because viscosity and sludge creep in over time and exposure to the elements.
  2. Keep it clean! Cleanliness is next to godliness and that’s why it’s recommended that people bathe daily. Your car should at least see a little TLC once a week! Try to get it steam cleaned regularly as well to keep the engine and underbody clean.
  3. Use a good wax! There are plenty on the market to try out, but maybe check with a detail pro to find out what they’d recommend. If you don’t like the thought of such frequent detailed care, I will suggest going to a dealer or detailer for a professional sealant application. There are companies that put warranties on these treatments and cover both the exterior as well as the interior.
  4. Park in the shade when possible! UV rays from the sun can drain the color out of your factory paint finish over time.
  5.  Don’t park under light poles whenever possible. They tend to have a bug zapper effect and the acids within the bugs can have a damaging effect on your paint as well. Especially when you park overnight and the morning sun has already started to re-fry the bug carcasses on your vehicle’s exterior. Trees are also going to fall into this category due to pollen and tree sap possibilities.
  6. Whenever possible, use a carport, garage, or car cover. 
  7. Always use microfiber cloths for the exterior because they won’t swirl the paint or scratch it. Clean in small and manageable areas thoroughly before rinsing to ensure a flawless finish. There are even specialty cloths now available for cleaning windows specifically.
  8. Avoid using a brush when washing. Try to hand wash with a microfiber mit instead. Brushes have a tendency to collect dirt and scratch the finish and leave swirl marks.
  9. Pay attention to what’s going in! If the oil cap recommends synthetic motor oil, don’t use conventional! If your fuel lid says to use 93 octane gas or better, put in the premium. If you don’t follow these directions, you can void your warranty or worse yet, seize your engine.
  10. Check your air pressure regularly. Make it a habit to walk around your vehicle before starting it up each time to ensure no visible deflation. And, you should also check your spare periodically for loss of air pressure and possible dry rot from lack of use.

So, these are just a few of the suggestions I’ll make for keeping things in great condition. Remember, coming from someone who works at a dealership, your vehicle will never be worth more than it is right here, right now, today. But, there’s also no reason not to preserve it the best you can so that you retain it’s value to the maximum should you ever decide to part ways with it. Following these guidelines is a great step in that direction.

Feel welcome to let me know what you think of this article by commenting in the fields below or emailing me at wmccormick@toyota.bertwolfe.com.

Thank you for taking time to read my thoughts!