So, you’ve decided to join the EV world and make a Tesla your next ride. But, before this happens, you’ve got to trade in your current set of wheels. With this in mind, we’ll review what’s involved with trading in your car to Tesla, some trade-in alternatives, and a few tips on maximizing your car’s value.
The Tesla Trade-In Process
As with the buying process, Tesla makes car trade-ins easy. While you can get a trade-in value at a Tesla store or gallery, the quickest way is to go the trade-in calculator on its website. Enter the VIN, answer a few basic questions, and Tesla will spit out what your car is worth. Also, you’ll need to set up a Tesla account (if you don’t already have one) before the amount is revealed.
At your Tesla delivery appointment, bring in your car, and a Tesla staff person will look over the vehicle. Assuming everything matches up with the information you provided online, then you’ll soon be on the way with your new Tesla.
Important Details About the Tesla Trade-in Process
While trading in your car to Tesla is straightforward, there are some essentials to be aware of.
- Tesla will accept most gas-powered or electric vehicles for trade. The vehicle must be in operating condition and have a clean title.
- Non-Tesla vehicles will be sold at a wholesale auction, while the company may resell Tesla cars through its used car program.
- Tesla will accept a trade-in with a loan balance. Any equity will be applied to your Tesla purchase, while any negative balance will need to be paid off or added to the Tesla loan or lease.
- Only one trade-in vehicle is accepted for each Tesla purchase.
Is A Tesla Trade-In A Good Deal?
The quick answer is, maybe. Tesla’s trade-in offer is non-negotiable, just like the sales process. So, you may get a competitive offer, or you may not. At one time, Tesla would match purchase offers from CarMax, but this is no longer the case.
Using a 2018 Toyota Camry LE in excellent condition with 15,000 miles for an example, Tesla made an online offer of $18,300 for the car. Is this a good deal? Read on to see.
What Other Trade-In Options Should I Consider?
Fortunately, we’re living in technology-driven times, so finding alternative offers for your car are only a few clicks away. Given the current craziness of the used car market, companies like CarMax are eager to get their hands on vehicles. Topmarq offers a unique service that enables you to receive multiple offers to buy your car with a single submission. You’ll get quotes from car dealers such as CarMax, Carvana, Vroom, and AutoNation.
How Does a Tesla Trade-In Offer Compare?
It’s impossible to make a blanket statement that one company’s trade-in or buy offer is better than another’s. Numerous variables go into this formula, including the car’s make and model, its condition, and the demand for a particular vehicle. For example, Carvana may need Honda Accords in its inventory while AutoNation can’t give them away.
Let’s get back to that Toyota Camry trade-in pricing from Tesla at $18,300. How do other offers stack up? The differences are substantial. Kelly Blue Book’s $19,851 price seems like a nice improvement. But then we get two near-identical offers from CarMax ($20,800) and Carvana ($20,832)—which top Tesla’s pricing. Yet, it gets even better with Vroom and a $21,363 offer. In this case, trading in your car to Tesla would leave more than $3,000 on the table.
Of course, Vroom won’t come out on top all the time, nor will Tesla always be at the bottom. This disparity in pricing confirms the importance of getting multiple offers before swapping wheels.
How Can I Maximize the Value of My Trade-in?
It’s all about getting the most money for your car. Following a few steps can boost your car’s value and preserve the amount of an online offer. Selling privately is also always an option that will likely yield the highest value, but involves a bit more work.
Be honest and accurate when entering your car’s description in an online car buying site. Otherwise, you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise during the hand-off process. You may think your “baby” is perfect, but those dings and scratches say otherwise. It may also be helpful to get the opinion of a friend or neighbor.
Time Your Trade-In
When possible, use timing to your advantage. Right now, most cars are enjoying inflated values (but that also means deals on new cars are more scarce or non-existent if you’re buying a no-haggle Tesla). However, eventually, pricing will get back to normal, so timing becomes important. This means trying to sell or trade your car in when there’s greater demand. So, an SUV will have more appeal in the fall or winter, while spring and summer is the best time to offload a convertible.
Check the Car’s History
Like you should check your credit report before applying for a loan, inspecting your car’s recorded history is also important. Although rare, errors here can affect your vehicle’s value. And, car buying firms will pick up on any negative information and reduce the offer. Spending a few bucks for a CARFAX or AutoCheck report can mean more dollars in your pocket.
Fix What You Can
During the hand-off (at a Tesla delivery appointment or when the car buying firm picks up the vehicle), your car will be closely inspected for any deviations from how you described things. Loose trim, non-functioning systems, or broken interior components should be fixed, if possible. Ideally, any recall repairs (which the manufacturer pays for) should be performed, too.
If you approach selling as if you were going to buy the car, you may be able to get some high value saves from minor fixes.
Clean It Up
Your car doesn’t need complete professional detailing, but a wash and wax can only help. Try to do this cleanup yourself, so you’ll have an opportunity to inspect the car as you move along the exterior. Freshening up the interior is important, too.
Of particular focus is that seats are as clean as possible, and there are no smoke or food odors. Getting rid of that layer of dashboard dust or center console coffee stains are little things that can make a big difference. Remember, just because you have an offer doesn’t mean it’s a 100% sure thing.