If you drive up to a car dealership in the vehicle you intend to trade you are setting yourself up to be taken, unless you have done your research first. One of the first things a salesperson will want to know is whether you are trading or not. The reason for this is so they will know what they have to work with as they are showing you vehicles.
This is especially dangerous if you are looking at a used vehicle since there is generally no price displayed so they can name whatever price they want. In order to be sure you aren't being taken on a trade in you should do a couple of things first. If you go to Kelly Blue Book online and honestly input the information on your vehicle you will get a fairly good representation for what it is worth. The dealer will give you somewhere between loan and trade in value depending on what kind of vehicle you have.
The other thing to do is to take your car around to several dealers and tell them you want to sell it outright and get them to give you a price they would buy it for. This will usually be a bit lower than what you could actually get on a trade in but this in combination with the internet research will keep you from getting totally robbed. The other thing to take into consideration in deciding whether or not to trade is the tax implications. In most states there is a sales tax on vehicles which can be substantial. If your trade in is a fairly new model it may be more beneficial to trade due to the tax benefit (You are only taxed on the difference). If you have an older vehicle you may get more money by selling it outright.
In either case, you will usually get more money by selling the vehicle yourself. You have to see what you can get and weigh the benefits of selling it yourself versus the benefit of the tax savings. Have your vehicle detailed.
It will usually cost you around $100 or so to have your vehicle professionally detailed but it can get you several hundred more dollars in trade in or resell value. As a former car appraiser and buyer myself I can tell you, the cleanliness and appearance of a car is very influential in the price given for it. I have appraised cars that I wouldn't even sit in because they were so filthy and yet once we cleaned them we made a fortune on them because they were worth far more than I paid. I will say it again; get your vehicle professionally detailed.
Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida with his 16 year old son. For patented quality car care products for your vehicle go to http://www.carcarewizards.com