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20 Oct 2009 | Text by Benjamin G. Kline | Category: Car Selling Advice

Buying that new car shouldn’t take a huge toll on your pocket. Let us show you how you can still get your new set of wheels without losing an arm (or other body parts) on the old one.

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So, you’ve been eyeing that new ride at the showroom for awhile now. You’ve read about it, test driven it and introduced it to your Chief Financial Officer (aka Wife) who has nodded her approval. What’s left to do but sign on the sales agreement? Then you hit the brakes when the salesperson gives you his ‘best’ offer for your old car. You think to yourself that your old faithful can fetch a better price than that. You might just be right.

In this article, we will explore the ways to get a better trade-in value for your old car without shady dealings with secondhand car dealers or falling victim to unscrupulous car salesmen.

Last December when the economy started crumbling, repercussions were felt throughout the world’s different industries. One of the hardest hit was the car trade. Consumers were afraid to invest in a new set of wheels fearing the sudden loss of their jobs due to severe cost cutting by large corporations. Nobody was buying cars and car malls all over Singapore that are usually packed on weekends were doing convincing impressions of a ghostown.

Due to the lack of demand for secondhand cars, dealers were offering ridiculously low prices for trade-in cars which led to a self-perpetuating problem. Consumers were unable to let go of their old cars without suffering a huge financial loss and thus unwilling to purchase new cars. LTA’s recent efforts to resuscitate the used car market by reducing the number of COEs available has helped raise used car sales slightly. Thus improving trade-in prices for motorists but is it enough?

Undercover

To find out which showrooms offers the best trade-in amount, this journalist visited several showrooms posing as a potential customer shopping for a new set of wheels for Mum. Were the theatrics necessary? Well as much as it grates on my conscience to pose as a potential customer (having been a car salesman myself), it was necessary to ensure the best trade-in price that any man on the street would get and not an inflated quotation for a motoring journalist.

The car being used for this test is a pristine three year old Toyota Altis 1.6-litre with about 40,000km on the odometer. A brand new one would fetch about $67,000 but let’s see what we can get for our used car.

To ensure I covered as wide a demographic as possible, I visited showrooms for luxury models as well as mainstream ones. After going through several rounds of sales talk, the salesperson gave me the trade-in value for my Toyota.

Here are the values I got from the different dealers:

Who? What car? How much? Overtrade? Overtrade amount? Handover date
BMW 318i $33,000
-$35,000
No Nil Dec '09
Mercedes Benz C180 Blue-
efficiency
$37,000 Yes $3,000 Jan '10
Honda Civic 1.8-litre $36,000 No Nil Dec '09
Chevrolet Cruze 2.0-litre $30,000 No Nil Jan '10
Nissan Sylphy 2.0-Litre $37,000 No Nil Dec '09
Quotz - $40,000 No Nil Nov '09
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