Home   ›  DoneDeal Insight

A Good Trade-In Price? by Michael Sheridan

Trading in your old car to buy a new one can be a mystifying and often frustrating experience. Why is it that some dealerships can offer a higher trade-in value for your old car while others seem determined to insult you? Firstly, it’s nothing personal, although you might feel like it is! There are a number of factors that affect the value of your trade-in. It may seem like the dark arts but when you think about it logically, the whole process is easier to understand.

When you decide to trade-in and get a new car it is a very exciting time. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the act of buying your new pride and joy that you can forget the fact you are actually doing two transactions - buying and selling.

Dealers have to turn profit somewhere or we’d have no dealerships. If they take in a trade-in, they can either stock it themselves or sell it on to the ‘Trade’, often because it is too old, or the dealer doesn’t want the customer to see it on sale for a higher price than the trade-in given. There are costs involved to the dealership in terms of time and money spent to prepare it, stock it, advertise it, and sell it.

Car buyers can feel insulted when the price offered for their trade-in. Dealers likewise have to deal with upset customers who as a rule overestimate the value of their car. This estimate is most likely based on seeing the asking price of similar cars advertised, and there can be some emotional attachment to factor in also. It really doesn’t matter how loved or well cared for the trade-in car was – it is simply a depreciating asset. In just a couple of hours, a full valet can turn a tatty trade-in into a showroom star. While it is important to bring your car to the dealership in pristine condition, in truth it won’t make a massive difference to the trade-in price offered.

The mistake people make when they receive a relatively low trade-in offer is to take it personally. Online pricing research of similar cars will find out what people are looking for but not the actual value of the car. The trade-in value offered at dealerships will always be lower than what the car can retail for. Buyers have to allow the dealer some margin for profit. However, if you insist on a higher trade-in price you might get it, but you will find there will be less shifting on the new car’s price as a result.

Dealerships have trade guidebooks that list used cars’ realistic values. You may have heard the phrase ‘book value’, the figures quoted for every make and model of car are based on the model year, fuel type, mileage, manual/auto, condition, depreciation/popularity, etc. Combined it delivers a price the dealer should offer. This actual price offered may vary slightly from dealer to dealer and there are reasons for that.

The perfect alignment of stars is when a customer brings in a car that is popular and saleable to trade in against a car the dealer has in stock. The opposite scenario will see neither customer or dealer overly happy. If a dealer frowns at your trade-in, make sure you know why that is. Usually, it is because the trade-in is not very saleable – think of a lurid pink Jeep Cherokee or similar. The dealer could also be chancing their arm with good old school sales technique. For example, if you were trading-in a silver Corolla, Golf or Tucson in good condition, you can laugh off any low offer and haggle hard. These three are just some of the most bankable and popular cars on the market and will easily be sold on in a heartbeat.

There is so much truth in the old saying “the day you buy is the day you sell” as popular cars in conservative colours with reasonable specifications are easy to turnover and the lifeblood of used car sales. By selecting wisely when buying new, you will have a car that dealerships will welcome warmly anytime as a trade-in. If you buy with your heart that pink Cherokee or a lemon or ‘orphans’ as the trade calls unloved, unpopular cars, you will be politely told where to go come trade-in time.

Remember a dealership will always want to sell its current stock and you will always get the best trade-in deal against the cars you can see with your own eyes. Good salespeople will want you to come back time and time again to buy your subsequent cars and will do their utmost to make a deal happen. Be realistic in the value you put on your trade-in and remember to haggle on the new car’s price too as if you were paying with cash. It’s worth noting also that dealerships make profit on any finance they sell you too - so there is wriggle room there also.

Ultimately the only figure that matters is the cost to change from your old car to new. If you aren’t happy with the deal, say so and be prepared to drive away. In a day or two, you can expect a call back from the salesperson with a better offer – it is after all the classic sales dance!

This article is an independent review by Journalist Michael Sheridan. Michael Sheridan has been a Car of the Year Judge for 20 years, more recently a judge for Van of the Year.

DoneDeal's car valuation tool can give you a valuation based on current market rates- check it out here.

About DoneDeal

DoneDeal hosts the widest selection of cars for sale in Ireland, with 78,000 on sale today. The vast majority of those, over 60,000, are from over 1,000 trusted local dealerships that offer certainty in your purchase through warranties History checks.

One car ad is placed every minute on DoneDeal, with about 600,000 cars advertised a year. DoneDeal is Ireland's No.1 Motor Website with over 70 million car searches taking place annually. To check out DoneDeal’s range of cars from all of Ireland’s trusted car dealerships, see here.

DoneDeal's central mission is to empower Irish consumers by removing all uncertainty when it comes to purchasing a car. The result has been the development of products and services that empower the Irish consumer, e.g., free basic history check on verified cars, in-depth history checks, warranty, and finance options. Buy Premium cars confidently with DoneDeal.


Featured Car Reviews

Our Products



Find Greenlight owner verified cars to purchase with confidence!

Manufacturer Approved.png

Manufacturer Approved

Find cars that have been quality checked and approved by their manufacturer.



Find Cars with warranties on DoneDeal - so that you can have peace of mind after purchase.

Car Finance.png

Car Finance

Apply for finance, directly from the car listing on DoneDeal, for Quick and easy finance approval.

Connect With Us

instagram-donedeal icon.png
youtube-donedeal icon.png

You might also like

Grey Box-Dark.jpg



Read More


Grey Box-Dark.jpg



Read More


Motor Insights

Farming Insights


BMW are back with a new all electric SUV in the revamped clever iX3.

30 Nov 2021

Audi Q2

The all new Audi Q2 compact crossover is now available!

29 Nov 2021

Peugeot 208

Thinking of buying a new car? Why not consider the traditional hatchback in the shape of a new Peugeot 208.

29 Nov 2021

February Tractor Registrations continue good start to the year

The latest figures issued by the Farm Tractor & Machinery Trade Association in relation to registrations of tractors and other types of...

22 Mar 2021

Agri shoppers spend over 12 minutes on DoneDeal's Agri section, every time they visit.

DoneDeal is where Farmer's do business. Over 350,000 people visit our Farming section every month, spending 12 minutes on an average...

29 Jan 2021

Monitor your herds mood as you move stock indoors for the Winter. Here's what to keep an eye out for

It is better to rely on animal behaviour principles instead of sheer force to restrain and control animals during handling.

11 Nov 2020


Find on DoneDeal


New Car Showroom

Browse for New Cars with our enriched search experience.

Find On DoneDeal-Trusted Dealer Cars.jpg

Trusted Dealer Vehicles

Find vehicles sold by trusted

dealers in Ireland.

Find On DoneDeal-Electric Cars.jpg

Find Electric Cars

Discover a wide range of

Electric Cars on DoneDeal.