How Does the Car Dealership Appraisal Process Work?

November 30, 2018 1:51 pm

Car value on your trade-in is assessed via a car dealership appraisal. This process is relatively quick. For the vast majority of trade-ins, it should only take about 15 to 30 minutes.

Typically, you should hammer out the purchase price of the vehicle you’re buying before you talk about trade-in value for the one you’re letting go. Different dealerships will have different processes. They’ll often have a designated appraiser. They may do their work while you talk about the car you’re purchasing, but you can also be there for their appraisal if that’s more comfortable for you. Here’s how the process usually goes:

1. Hand over a set of your car keys to the appraiser. Make sure these are not your only set of keys.

2. They’ll ask you a few questions about the car’s history. Be honest. These are experts in recognizing and researching history and prior damage.

3. They’ll do a silent walk-around to begin assessing the car. This includes looking at every scratch, dent, or sign of damage or wear. Don’t stress out too much. Not every scratch will count against the car’s value, but they need to record these details nonetheless.

4. During this process, they’ll check the fluids and stickers. They’ll also check every button inside the car to make sure it works properly.

5. The appraiser will take your car on a brief drive. Most of these drives should last around 3 to 5 miles. Depending on anything that comes up during this drive, it may be slightly shorter or longer. It will usually include a stretch of local driving, and a stretch of highway driving. This allows them to see how the car handles in different situations. They’ll check performance for idling, acceleration, brakes, etc.

6. They’ll check in with their manager at least once during the car dealership appraisal process, and they will also check the market value of your trade-in, according to its condition.

7. The appraiser will then let the manager you’re working with know the value of your car. This may match your assessment or diverge from it. This is also something you can negotiate, but keep it realistic. Ask and they’ll go through why they assessed a certain Actual Cash Value for your trade-in.

Remember when you bring your trade-in to the dealership, it should be cleaned out of personal belongings. A good cleaning also helps the car make a good first impression, and helps the appraiser feel more comfortable in it.

If you have questions about your trade-in car value, give us a call or stop by!

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