Can You Trade in Two Cars for One?

Car dealers are open to all kinds of negotiations when it comes to selling vehicles, including two-car trades. To get the maximum trade-in value, research what your cars are worth prior to going to the dealership and entering negotiations.

Benefits of a Two Car Trade-In

Trading in two vehicles for a car purchase is a good idea if don't need both cars and you want to increase the amount that goes toward your down payment. This means you will end up financing less than you would be if you traded in only one of the cars. To get the most out of this transaction, negotiate the individual prices of each trade-in before you start talking about the price of the new vehicle you're planning to buy.

Warning

Don't get roped into the dealership tactic of asking you what kind of monthly payment you want on your new vehicle before discussing the value of your trade-in cars. You don't want to give dealers the opportunity to work the numbers in their favor and potentially decrease what they're giving you for your trades.

Tip

Check sources like Edmunds.com or Kelley Blue Book to get competitive rates based on your cars’ make, model, mileage and condition. You may be better off selling your vehicles privately and using the proceeds for a down payment on a new car.

Negotiate in Advance

Consider negotiating your trade-in in advance of going into the dealership. For best results, get more than one trade-in estimate to increase your negotiating power. Many dealerships let you conduct tentative negotiations with an online sales manager via email before you set foot on a showroom floor. This saves you the hassle of bringing in both vehicles before you know if you'll get what they're worth.

Tip

  • If you have maintenance records, provide copies to let the dealer know your vehicles have been well-maintained.
  • You might think that detailing your cars and making repairs before attempting a trade-in will net you more money, but don't waste too much time or resources on this. Clean your cars and make them presentable, but avoid costly repairs or additions like new tires, which aren't likely to be worth the return on your investment.

Warning

A dealer will still want to check out your trade-ins in person before making a final value estimation, but doing a bit of advanced haggling can at least give you a ball park idea of what you can get.

Use Caution With Upside Down Trades

Resist the urge to trade in one or more vehicles that still carry a loan balance or are upside down, meaning you owe more on a vehicle than it is worth. If you take this approach, and attempt to roll the overage into a new car loan, you'll be financing vehicles you don't even own anymore over a long period of time. If you do take this approach, make sure you get written confirmation from the dealer that the outstanding balance on the other vehicles will be paid off as part of the purchase agreement.

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