What paperwork do I need to trade in my car?
Trading in your car for a new one can take some time depending on the dealership or car shopping service you use. Having the correct paperwork handy can help make this process go smoothly. Prevent making extra trips to track down the information by having these documents in hand: proof of car insurance, the trade-in vehicle's title and registration, the vehicle's trade-in value, and your driver's license.
In addition, having the car's maintenance records and service receipts can demonstrate that you've done preventative maintenance, potentially increasing the trade-in amount. If you still have a loan on the trade-in vehicle, have the loan account number handy too.
Besides the essential documentation, you'll need to have all the trade-in vehicle's keys, remotes, and the owner's manual. Remove any pages in the owner's manual that contain your personal information.
Your car's maintenance records and service receipts can demonstrate that you've done preventative maintenance, potentially increasing the trade-in amount.
How do I get the trade-in value?
Start by researching your current vehicle's value by using an online pricing guide from well-regarded sources such as Edmunds® and Kelley Blue Book (KBB®). Once you have an estimated trade-in value, get quotes from local dealerships or online car shopping services like Progressive's Car Shopping service. If getting an appraisal from a dealership, bring a copy of the estimated trade-in value with you. Compare quotes as you get them to narrow down where you'll trade in your car.
During the trade-in paperwork signing process, read all the documents carefully to ensure no errors. Ask about anything you don't understand. Getting any issues corrected at this point takes less time than trying to change a signed contract later.
Do you need the title to trade in your car?
If you own the car, meaning there's no loan remaining on it, you'll need to bring the vehicle's certificate of title to the dealership for a trade-in. Selling a vehicle without any proof that you own it is illegal in most places. To replace a lost car title, contact your state's department of motor vehicles or the location where you bought the car. You might need to pay a small title replacement fee.
What if my car loan isn't paid off yet?
Experts recommend contacting your lender before doing a trade-in to ask about their preferred transfer process. Typically, the dealership or company buying your trade-in can help you with the financing paperwork. Depending on how much you still owe, the dealer might pay the remaining balance and get the certificate of title from your lender.
If your vehicle has a higher value than the amount still owed on your loan, the difference between those totals, known as positive equity, can be applied as a credit to the down payment on a new car.