May 26, 2015

Is It a Good Idea to Hide Your Trade In?

There are lots of strategies you can use to get a good deal on a used car in Oklahoma. It’s always a good idea to negotiate when you’re buying a car, and most dealers and salespeople will work with you to get a better price. However, one of the most widely-spread pieces of advice when it comes to buying cars can actually be a bad move in the long run.

If you’ve ever bought a car before, you’ve probably heard that you should wait to tell the dealership that you want to trade in your car until the last possible minute. According to these “experts,” you can get a better deal by negotiating the lowest possible price first and then dropping in the trade-in after the negotiations. For instance, this article in the L.A. Times argues that you should negotiate your trade-in separately from your car purchase, and preferably second.

At first glance, this advice seems solid. In theory, if you negotiate both prices separately the dealer can’t use the one price to influence the other, and you’ll get a better deal overall. However, in practice this advice is at best outdated, and at worst it can lead to you getting a worse deal and having a more stressful and confrontational experience.

The Problem With Hiding a Trade-In

Why is it a bad idea to hide your trade in from the dealer until you negotiate your price? Here are a few ways this strategy can have negative effects on your car purchase:

It Takes Longer – At our Oklahoma City used car dealership, we strive to make the car buying experience simple and painless, and most dealers try to do the same. However, waiting to tell the salesperson about your trade-in is guaranteed to make your sale take longer. Why?

Trade-ins need to be evaluated before the dealership can give you a value. This evaluation takes time – it’s not an instant process. If you wait until after you’ve negotiated the price for the car you want to buy, you’ll then have to wait again while the price for your trade-in is calculated. On the other hand, if you tell the dealership about your trade-in up front, you can choose a car and start working on the price at the same time the mechanics are giving your trade-in a thorough evaluation.

It Lowers the Value of your Trade-In – One of the biggest reasons you should never hide your trade-in from the dealer is because doing so can actually lower the amount of money you get for trading it to them. By negotiating prices separately, you can effectively remove value from your trade.

The reason for this is that every car on a dealer’s lot costs them money, and they make up that money by selling the cars to buyers. This might seem obvious, but many car shoppers forget that most dealers have very thin margins on new and used cars. There’s only so much wiggle room in the price before the dealer loses money. If you manage to negotiate a car down to the dealer’s rock-bottom price without your trade-in, you won’t have much negotiating power left when it comes to trading in your car.

It Makes You Look Untrustworthy – If you walk into an Oklahoma car dealership with the intent of trading your car in, but you don’t tell them about the trade until well into the negotiations, it makes you look like you’re willing to lie to get a better deal. Most car salespeople prefer to work with customers who are forthcoming and helpful, and you’ll almost always be better off by negotiating your trade up-front. Dealers will appreciate that you’re focused on getting a good deal without wasting time, and they’ll work harder to get you in and out the door happy.

The Right Way to Trade In a Car in Oklahoma

So what’s the best strategy for trading in your car? Simple – just keep in mind that your trade is only a part of your overall deal, and negotiate based on that fact. Don’t focus just on getting the most money possible for your trade-in – instead, consider things like the length of your loan, the interest rate and monthly payments, and any perks or bonuses you can include. Focusing on the entire deal rather than just one part of it will get you more in the long run.

It can also help to visit an Oklahoma City car dealer that works hard for you regardless of your circumstances. At The KEY in Oklahoma City, we work with buyers who have hit rough financial patches and need some help to get back on the road. Our friendly salespeople are ready to help you find your next car or trade up from your current vehicle, so come visit our used car lot today!


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