Kelley Blue Book
Trade In Value

How To Maximize Your
Used Car Trade In Value

Kelley Blue Book Trade In Value is Kelley's estimation of what a consumer could expect to receive for their vehicle if they were to trade it in to a car dealer.

FYI: Keep in mind that Kelley Blue Book is simply a guide and your trade in value could be much lower or much higher than Kelley's value.

The Kelley Blue Book Trade In Value is the used car value that is most used by consumers, not as much by dealers, to get a rough, ballpark figure of what their trade in is worth.

If you are planning to trade a used car this information is extremely important to ensure you do not get low-balled and essentially hand the car dealer thousands of dollars "on a silver platter."

What You'll Find:

5 Tips To Maximize
Your Used Car Trade In Value

  1. Trade It In At Night!

    It'll be the end of what is always a long day in the car business and you might catch a used car manager (the appraiser) sleeping, so to speak. They might rush the inspection and/or just out right miss things that might deduct value.

    In addition, trading your car in at night will help to hide minor flaws like:

    • Dents
    • Dings
    • Scratches
    • Tire Wear
    • Fading Paint
    • Oil Leaks, etc.

  2. Detail The Car

    You don't need to spend a lot of money on a professional detail, but a good wash and interior wipe down will help to give a good first impression, i.e. shiny paint job, no stains, sparkling wheels, etc.

    The dealer may tell you that "dirt don't hurt," but I've found that cars that look like they have been well maintained and won't cost the dealer a lot of money to get through the shop, get the most money when traded.

    In addition to a good cleaning, if you have smoked in the car have it deodorized! The smell of cigarette smoke kills the used car trade in value. The only people that "might" buy it from the dealer would be smokers and even a lot of smokers don't want the smell in their new car.

  3. Fix Minor Cosmetic Issues

    Do not spend a bunch of money trying to prep a car to be traded in. There aren't many things that you can do to a car to increase the Blue Book Trade In Value, but there is always a high and a low number that a dealer is willing to buy a trade for and you are shooting for the high.

    Clean the stain off the drivers seat, glue the headliner so it doesn't sag, tie those loose wires under the dash back up and wipe that inch of dust up off the instrument cluster.

  4. Get New Tires

    This is about the only higher end repair I'd really recommend prior to trading a vehicle in simply because this is one of the first things a used car manager will look at and definitely one they will deduct for.

    I'm not recommending putting on $600 racing slicks, but get some $60 cheapies with some tread.

  5. Have Insurance Work Completed

    If your insurance company is going to replace your windshield, fix a dent, or any other kind of work get it done before hand.

    Sure you could tell the dealer that it can be done after it's traded, but that means more work for them and they're not going to do you any favors financially.

What Hurts the Used Car Trade in Value

The following list will not only influence the Kelley Blue Book Trade In Value, but more importantly influences how much a dealer will be willing to buy your used car trade in for.

There is the obvious list:

  • major body damage
  • doesn't run
  • engine smokes
  • runs really rough, etc.

And here are six more that
you may not have considered:

1. Over 100,000 Miles
Not only will high miles make it harder for the dealer to sell to a future customer, but 100,000 miles or more eliminates about 90% of the lenders that will lend money on the vehicle.

2. Over 8 Years Old
Almost identical reasons as above. Age is not quite as big a factor as miles, but still makes a lenders approval more difficult and essentially limits the amount of customers a dealer can sell the car to.

3. Cigarette Burns
Burn holes are very hard to repair back to new and will almost always be obvious.

4. Foul Odors
Odors from smoking in a vehicle or from things like blood or milk spills can have a big impact on the value of a vehicle. Although there is no deduction in Blue Book Trade In Value, it can severely affect a dealers value.

The smell of cigarette smoke may be temporarily masked with odor agents, but always seems to come back when the weather heats up.

I once had a friend that went on a fishing trip and fish blood had leaked out of the cooler...Very Bad!

Blood and milk will permeate the metal and are impossible smells to remove.

5. Balding Tires
As mentioned above, this is one of the first things considered and will definitely be deducted for.

6. Broken Windshields
Another one that is easily seen and will result in less money for your trade.

What Has No Effect on the Kelley Blue Book Trade in Value

I've found that many customers feel that since they put $xxx.xx amount of dollars into their trade in that they should get exactly, or close to it, the same $xxx.xx amount of dollars back when they trade it in.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Here are a few of the more common situations I run into on a fairly regular basis:

  • That $3,000 Engine You Just Replaced

    This not only does not increase the Kelley Blue Book Trade in Value, but will mean very little to the dealer as well.

    Since this does not increase the Blue Book Value, then lenders will not be willing to lend more for this and therefore, dealers don't see this as very valuable.

    I'd seriously consider not fixing a broken down car if the cost of the repair exceeds, or is even close to the value of the car when it is in a good working condition.

  • Expensive Aftermarket Add Ons

    Sure the $5,000 lift with the fancy wheels and tires looks good, but will not add more than $300 - $500 to the Kelley Blue Book Trade In Value.

    Kelley Blue Book does not add for lifts and the wheels and tires will receive nowhere near their real value.

    A dealer would probably be willing to put more money in a vehicle like this, but don't expect to get your money back, or even half of it for that matter.

  • Maintenance Records

    Sure it shows the dealer you took care of the car, but will translate into very little value monetarily and of course, has no Kelley Blue Book Value.

  • Extended Warranties

    This has no value to the dealer, because they want to sell their own when they resell the car. Cancel them and get whatever refund you have coming.

    Kelley Blue Book does not give a higher valuation for extended warranties, because there are too many variables involved.

Now that you've got the Kelley Blue Book Trade in Value mastered why don't you head over to the main KBB page and learn how to use the different used car values to figure the dealers used car cost...

Learn More About Used Car Values With the KBB Guide

Go from Blue Book Trade In Value to Insider Car Buying Tips home

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.