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Calculate trade-ins by deducting the dealer's maintenance costs. Regardless of the condition of your car, many dealers will charge a reconditioning fee of $500 or more.
The reconditioning fee will cover the cost of a safety check, car detail, smog check certification and other maintenance fees. If a car dealer makes a deal to trade-in your car, be sure to ask the following questions:
- Is the trade-in offer before or after reconditioning?
- Can you rollover the outstanding debt of your trade-in to your new car purchase? (Remember to refinance the rolled over loan to avoid a long term loan where you will pay more for the new car than its value).
- What is the wholesale and retail value of the trade?
- If you are under warranty with your trade in, ask the salesperson if he can recommend a new car with an incentive amount that covers your debt. This tactic will help you offset trade-in debt while eliminating the effects of a "rollover.”
- To ensure that you are getting the best deal, request a breakdown of each fee and credit associated with your trade in purchase of a new car.