The Ultimate Guide to Trading In a Car with Problems

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No one has ever said, “I wish I could deal with more car problems.” Yet, it’s a fact that cars will eventually have issues. They don’t stay new forever. You could experience mechanical problems.

Those are the concerns that can be quite expensive. We’re talking about issues like a blown engine, a head gasket leak, or a differential that’s not working as it should.


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You might encounter transmission problems. Even if your engine is running right as rain, your car won’t drive as it should. It might not go into forward or reverse gear, or it might be leaking transmission fluid faster than you can pour it in.

Did You Know

Trading in a non-running car or a car with a blown engine will typically yield very little value. You actually might be able to sell your car online for more profit.

CarBrain specializes in evaluating damaged cars and giving you the true value of your vehicle. Get an instant offer online now to see how much you can sell your problem car for.

Electrical issues are some of the worst. These little electrical gremlins mess with your car. What was once a reliable vehicle can’t be trusted. It might shut off on you for no reason, or your windows, door locks, or air conditioning could quit. It’s a pain in the neck.

Trading in a car with body damageOr, your car could have body damage. Your teen driver might’ve been playing bumper cars by accident, or there’s unexplained dents and dings after parking in your office parking spot for a few years. A fender bender could mean your car looks like it’s been through a warzone but it’s still drivable.

Have you ever wished your troublesome car would just go away? You don’t want to deal with it. There isn’t enough time on your calendar or money in your account to figure out what to do with it. But it’s not easy to sell the way it is. And it’s not an insurance write-off.

Can you trade in a car that doesn’t run? Can you trade in a broken car? Can you trade in a junk car? Or what if it’s just old and not worth very much?

Trading In a Car with Problems

Trading In a Car with ProblemsCars all have problems eventually. It’s the extent of the problems that makes you decide to get rid of it. And when you’re thinking about trading in a car with problems, there’s something you should be aware of: the dealer knows. You aren’t hiding anything when your car is appraised for a trade in.

Any dealer will do an assessment on your trade in to determine what it’s worth. If you’re trading in a car with known problems, it’s best to be upfront about it. If the dealership thinks you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes, you’re going to get even less for your trade than if you tell them what the problems are.

Most dealerships deal take cars on trade, even if they have problems. Although, some will only take certain types of cars while others don’t want to deal with trade in vehicles with extensive issues.

Trading In a Car with Mechanical Problems

Mechanical issues are things that prevent the car from physically working as it should. They are problems like loose, bent, or worn suspension or steering parts, failing wheel bearings, exhaust that’s rusted through, or bad oil leaks.

Trading in a car with mechanical problemsTrading in a car with mechanical components is usually not a huge problem. Most dealerships will consider taking your car on trade. But beware, you’re probably not going to get the most value for it. Because the dealer needs to fix it or sell it as is AND make money, your appraised value will be lower than you expect.

Can you trade in a car that doesn’t work? Sure, it’s possible with some dealers. You’ll need to have your car towed to the dealer. At that point, you just know that you’re not getting much for it on trade.

Trading In a Car with Engine Problems

Trading In a Car with Engine ProblemsOne of the most expensive repairs on a car is an engine repair. Who knows how much it’s going to cost until the repair is already in progress? Trading in a car with engine problems is possible, but you won’t get much for it. That’s the case when the Check Engine light is on, the engine runs rough, or it leaks badly.

If you want to trade in a car with a blown engine, you should brace yourself. The dealer is going to take the cost of a new engine off your trade-in value, and you’ll be left with very little. It’s possible, but you might want to explore other options instead.

Trade In a Car that Doesn’t Run

Your engine might be fine but your engine doesn’t run. Wondering what to do with a car that doesn’t run? You could trade it into the dealership and buy a different car.

If you trade in a car that doesn’t run, the dealership will lowball the value. They need to account for the cost to repair the car, whatever that might be. It could be electrical like a crankshaft position sensor. It could be fuel-related like a faulty fuel pump. It could be as simple as a dead battery. But unless your car is running, the dealership will account for the worst-case scenario, and the trade in value will reflect it.

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Can You Trade In a Car with Transmission Problems?

Your car starts and runs but it doesn’t drive? It could be a transmission problem. Can you trade in a car with transmission problems? In many cases, you can. Dealerships are often equipped to fix the problem, but it’s going to cost you on your trade valuation.

Because your car doesn’t drive - or at least, doesn’t drive well - the dealer can’t be sure of the rest of your car’s condition. They’ll play it safe and pay you a penance for your car with transmission problems.

Trading In a Car with Body Damage

Your car is bashed up, like it’s been in a pinball machine. Scratches and dents, perhaps accident damage - you need to know what to expect for a damaged car trade in value.

Honestly, how your car looks makes a big difference with your trade valuation. It might run and drive just fine but trading in a car with body damage will hurt where it counts most - the wallet.

Can I Trade In a Damaged Car?

Can I Trade In a Damaged Car?

For most dealers, trade-ins need to be reconditioned anyway. As long as the damage isn’t extensive like missing bumpers and shredded fenders, they’ll take your car on trade. Because body repairs are expensive, trading in a damaged car won’t be kind on your trade value.

But if your car has been deemed salvage or is an insurance write-off, you might not be able to trade it in. Dealerships don’t really want to trade in a junk car because there’s no one that wants to buy it from them!

What if I Want to Trade In an Old Car?

If you have normal car problems due to old age, it’s easier to trade in your car. Those kinds of problems are electrical problems, door locks that don’t work, power windows that don’t roll down, or minor leaks here and there.

But for most old cars, dealerships don’t recondition and resell them. Older cars are usually sold to a broker or wholesaler who finds a use for them on their own. You’ll get pennies on the dollar when you sell an old car, and it’s most likely less than you’d like.

Should I Trade In or Sell a Car?

Should I Trade In or Sell a Car?Selling a car on your own might seem like a good idea. You might get more money for it. But if you’re asking, “should I trade in my car or sell it myself,” the answer isn’t as clear as you’d hope.

Selling a car with problems privately has its own challenges. People often overlook ‘mechanic’s special’ ads or want to lowball you on their offer. Tire-kickers waste your time, but you always have to be around in case someone wants to buy your problem car.

Most times, if the decision is between trade in or sell a car, trading it in is the better way to go...unless you’ve heard about CarBrain.

Why Choose CarBrain

Instead of trading your car to the dealership for a fraction of what it’s worth, you can trade car for cash. With CarBrain, you’ll get a fair offer for your car in as-is condition. It’s less stressful than trading it into the dealership and it’s fast. You can even trade in junk cars for cash!

Just request a guaranteed offer online. Within minutes, you’ll receive a guaranteed offer for your less-than-perfect car. If you accept the offer, CarBrain will pay you the real cash value for your car and pick it up from you at no cost. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s free to use CarBrain! Get your guaranteed offer for your vehicle now.

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