A guide to vehicle trade-ins

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A guide to vehicle trade-ins with (Image: Supplied)
A guide to vehicle trade-ins with (Image: Supplied)

by Celeste Hewett

Looking to trade-in your car? Here’s what you need to know

When buying a new or pre-owned vehicle, the option of trading in your current vehicle is available. With this comes other considerations. Is it better to sell your car privately? How are trade-ins valued? What does trading-in your car really mean? Where does one start the process?

Here’s what you need to know about trading-in your car, from the real car people;, supported by Motus Toyota (previously Imperial Toyota): 

What does it really mean to trade in your car?

Simply put, this would mean that you offer your current vehicle to the reputable dealership you wish to purchase a new vehicle from, in exchange for a credit towards the car you will be purchasing.

How does my trade-in car get assessed and valued?

When taking the vehicle to the dealer to be assessed it is important that you provide as much information as you can. 

Determine the current book value, as this may give you an idea of what it is worth but do remember that this will only be an approximate value and the final price offered will be dependent on various criteria. 

Some important details you should provide:

  • Vehicle make and model, the exact variant
  • Is the vehicle still financed and how much do you owe?
  • Full-service history – it is a good idea to keep all service and maintenance receipts for this reason
  • Any existing warranty, service, and maintenance plans still in place – if there is any time remaining on your service plan, maintenance plan or warranty, this will help add to the value of your vehicle
  • The spare key and other items that came with the car – pin numbers for the audio systems, Bluetooth device and details referring to immobilisers and alarm systems

The dealership wants to know how loved the vehicle is, so it is a very good option to make sure your car is clean. A clean and well looked after car will appeal to a higher reselling value.

Other things the valuator takes into consideration are:

  • Popularity of car make and model
  • Year of first registration
  • Mileage, ideally should not be more than an average of 25 000km per year
  • Vehicle condition
  • Any additional accessories or non-standard specifications
  • The exterior colour of the car may also play a role – TIP: white cars have the best resale value and lowest insurance premiums due to their visibility on the road

If your car has been in a major accident, it is best to get a reputable panel beater to repair the damage before you sell your car. Any sign of a major accident will decrease the value of your vehicle. 

The dealer network, has a unique electronic valuation system, allowing them to put a report together which includes the verification of the make and model of the car. They also establish the correct value and can offer you the best price, thanks to their dealer network which covers all the major car makes and models.

How long does the process take?

The dealer will be able to give you an indication of the trade in value straight after evaluation. The rest of the vetting and verification, to give you a complete report and solid offer, should not take longer than a few hours.

What are the disadvantages and advantages of trading in your car?


Many people have the misconception that you will get more money if you sell your car privately only to find out that a dealer would have offered them more. Each deal offer is unique.


  • Ease of service – the dealer will handle everything that needs to be done from settling the outstanding balance with the bank to ensuring the vehicle is taken out of your name, to delivering your new vehicle
  • It is fast and convenient – you will not need to worry about the task of advertising the car, meeting with potential buyers, and transferring ownership
  • It is safer – you will not be at risk of being scammed between processes

As a rule of thumb, it works out cheaper to let your dealer recondition the car after trading it in.  What you would lose on the trade-in value will be marginal in comparison to trying to repair the car yourself before you trade it in.  

If you would like to get your car valued as a trade-in, why not book a test drive, or enquire on your new dream car on and get your current car valued at the same time!

Visit for more info and tips, or join the conversation on Facebook and YouTube.

This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by

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