Trading in a used car or truck at Toronto’s Quixl Auto or any other trusted used-auto dealer throughout the Greater Toronto Area represents the last, best opportunity to squeeze some final value from a vehicle. What could be more apropos than leveraging the vehicle you’ve diligently cared after for years into making a newer used car or truck more affordable? It’s the ultimate win-win scenario. In lieu of the various uncertainties when selling a used car to a private buyer, the dealer and driver reach a straightforward pricing agreement. The dealership gains another vehicle to be sold at a profit and in return, the buyer knocks what could be a substantial value clean off the cost of another vehicle from the lot. In the long run, both sides come out ahead from an efficient, uncomplicated transaction. Here comes more great news: there are ways, before you even visit the dealership, to improve the odds that you receive a sweet offer. Many owners wouldn’t necessarily think of these little details as being that influential. The good news is, they won’t cost you a dime.


What you know before you even engage a dealer in trade talks can certainly help you.

Enter into your talks with a solidly researched concept of what your used car is actually worth for sale in your area. You may possess a ride that’s particularly hard to come by where you live. The dealer may lay eyes on it and see a locally rare vehicle that won’t sit on the lot long. Invest some time in knowing what the dealmaker knows.

Just be prepared for some mild disappointment.

Take the Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com values for your vehicle’s make, model and year to heart as foundations for your ballpark hopes. By all means, know what the market says. Just don’t anticipate getting that exact value on a trade. Any vehicle that a dealership adopts has to be sold at a profit. In the meantime, a little cleaning and basic detailing before presenting it for a trade just might net you an extra few hundred dollars on your offer.


Just for the sake of redundancy: the dealer will probably not offer you the Kelley Blue Book value. Don’t take it personally.

The dealer will look to turn somewhere between a 2 per cent and 4 per cent profit on any vehicle (quite possibly including the very one that you might be eyeing on the lot), recoup any sunk costs of refurbishing it and do it quickly.

Visible signs of paint work and damage will accordingly ding your offer. If you know that the vehicle has some odd noises or quirks that show up again and again while driving, assume that someone whose livelihood is rooted in assessing vehicles will notice them.

In addition to all of these above considerations, there are the x-factors of realistic demand for a vehicle. A used-car dealer in a rural area will probably experience more demand for a used mid-priced 4X4 in great condition than a Pontiac or Honda compact in with roughly the same mileage and in roughly the same shape. Just the same, a metropolitan dealer just might have a harder time moving a massive SUV with a fuel-chugging V-8 than a reliable sedan or compact that gets unreal city mileage.


It might be a bit of an end-run, but a bigger trade-in could be worth seeking financing elsewhere. Bear with us a moment.

Pushing for a higher trade-in value might get you what you want, but at the cost of the dealer jacking up other fees in order to compensate. Here, intimately understanding one’s credit score could come in handy. Weighing a lofty, sterling credit history and the right going auto-loan rates at the time could signal a better deal through combining the dealer’s trade-in with third-party financing.

Whatever you do, don’t fall for the bait if a dealer offers to adopt your vehicle’s negative equity and tack it onto your financing. You’ll be better off holding off replacing your vehicle and paying down the balance, even if it means taking a hit on a later trade-in deal.


Nothing at all stipulates that you deal only with the first dealer that makes you a trade-in offer.

Inventories can and will differ from one used-auto lot to the next. One lot may already be occupied by your used car’s identical twin but the next may have just offloaded its cousin. Get offers from a handful of dealers with an interest in your make and model, then proceed accordingly.

The homework you should’ve done by now anyway will give a fair indication whether or not you’ve gathered any reasonable offers. If you haven’t, don’t underestimate private sales.

Selling a used vehicle privately comes with its own uncertainties. Weeding out serious interests apart from casual browsers can take valuable time. There may be tax and maintenance-negotiation considerations along the way. Ultimately, unless a party pays cash up front, any buyer can even expect some tense waiting until the buyer’s check clears.

On the upside, the flexibility of options may be worth it. While a trade-in agreement limits your options to vehicles on the immediate lot, a completed sale leaves you with cash in hand that you can spend wherever and however you choose.

Eye the options, do the math and trade or sell based entirely on what’s best for you.

Copyright © 2006-2013, All rights reserved.