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How to get the most money for your trade-in

HOUSTON – When it’s time to buy a new car, you can usually plan on getting something for your old vehicle. You could just trade it in at the dealership where you purchase your new car, but if you don’t shop around for a couple of offers, you probably won’t get as much as you could.

To find out just how much offers vary, we took a 2015 Audi A4 AWD to three separate businesses to find out how much they would give us for the car. This is what we found:

LocationOffer
NADA Kelly Blue Book Value$13,200
Carmax$13,000
Texas Direct Auto$14,500
Dealer$14,000 (but later matched Texas Direct)

NADA Kelly Blue Book Value

First, go to NADA Kelly Blue Book to find out what your car is worth. When we did this, the site told us we could expect about $13,200 for the 2015 Audi A4 as a trade-in.

Make sure you don’t end up on the Kelly Blue Book site that makes you an offer for the car or you will get phone calls and emails from local Auto Nation dealerships that partner with Kelly Blue Book asking you to bring your vehicle in.

Carmax

Did you know Carmax will buy your car even if you don’t buy one from them? If you’d like to get an offer, just type in the year, make, model and mileage of your vehicle on the company’s “Sell my car” section of its website. In seconds, the site lets you know if Carmax is interested in your vehicle. If they are, you can set up a day and time to take your vehicle to a Carmax near you for inspection.

When a KPRC 2 employee drove his car over, he checked in and waited about 45 minutes before a Carmax employee offered him $13,000. You can accept the offer on the spot, leave your vehicle and get a check before you leave or you can wait. The offer is good for up to seven days.

Texas Direct Auto

Texas Direct Auto, also known as Vroom, has an easy to use website that lets you fill in information about the vehicle you want to sell. You will get an offer emailed within 24 hours. If you accept, Texas Direct even offers to come and pick the vehicle up so you don’t have to drive it to a dealer. You can accept the offer right away or wait up to 10 days to decide.

Vroom offered our employee $14,500 for his car.

Take it to a Dealership

Armed with the information you have already gathered, you can now take your trade-in to a dealership where you plan to purchase your vehicle. When they tell you how much they will give you for your trade-in, you will already know if you can do better. One local dealership offered our KPRC 2 employee $14,000. When he told them he already had an offer for $14,500, the dealer agreed to match it.

Shopping around got an extra $1,500 for our employee to put towards his new vehicle. You can also sell your vehicle outright to another individual. In this scenario, you can likely make the most money, but there are a few more hassles. You want to make sure you are meeting with potential buyers in a safe place and you take security precautions to keep you and your property safe.