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How You Should Go About Trading in A Car With Problems

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.

Trading in a car with body damage

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.

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.

Or, your car could have body damage. Your teen driver might’ve been playing bumper cars by accident, or there are 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.

So - What Should You Do At This Point?

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.

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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.

Trading In a Car with Problems

Cars all have problems eventually. It’s the extent of the problems that make 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 the damaged car'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 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 collision damage.

Trading In a Car With Mechanical Problems

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 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. If you want to know more about cars with blown engines, we have an extremely detailed guide on blown engines, their signs, symptoms, and what you can do.

One 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.


Want To Trade In a Car That Doesn’t Run?

Trading In a Car with Engine Problems

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 in to 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 totaled 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 a bad transmission? 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 Broken Car Is Hard

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 that needs work will hurt where it counts most: the wallet.

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! So what should you do with a damaged car if trading in a car that needs repair isn't ideal? If you’re wondering who buys cars that don’t run, we’ve got the answer.  

Can I Trade In a Damaged Car?

Trading In Old Cars Isn’t Easy Either

If you have normal car problems due to old age, it’s easier to trade in your car, van, truck or SUV. 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.

Old car problems are something most people don't enjoy dealing with. And when you have a bad engine on your car, it's definitely much harder to sell for cash. If you want to know more about blown engine cars, and what makes and models have notorious engine problems, we created an in-depth guide on blown engines, signs, and symptoms.

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 trading in or selling a car, trading it in is the better way to go...unless you’ve heard about CarBrain.

Get The Trade-In Value Of Your Car With Issues Now

Should I Trade In or Sell a Car?

Instead of trading your car to the dealership for a fraction of what it’s worth, you can trade the 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 in to the dealership and it’s fast.

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!


Sell Your Car Quickly

Can You Trade In A Car That Has Issues?

Yes, you can trade in a car with issues. Keep in mind that most dealerships won't specialize in less-than-perfect vehicles, and a vehicle with issues may not be in high demand.

Can You Trade In A Car With The Check Engine Light On?

It is possible to trade in a vehicle with the check engine light on. However, many dealerships will insist on trying to determine why the engine light is on before they make an offer on the car. If they discover a serious issue with the engine, you could receive much less for your vehicle than you were hoping for.

Can You Trade In A Hail-Damaged Car?

Yes! If you have a hail-damaged car, you can trade it in as long as you can find a dealership willing to accept a damaged vehicle. Most hail damage is cosmetic, so it won't necessarily affect the performance of the vehicle.

However, if dealerships do give you a hard time about the damage to your car, you can always use a service like CarBrain. We purchase less-than-perfect cars in any condition, even if they have severe hail damage.

Is It Illegal To Trade In A Car With Problems?

It is not illegal to trade in a car with problems. However, when you trade in the vehicle you must fully describe what the problems are with the car.

Will A Dealership Buy A Car That Doesn’t Run?

Yes, it's possible, but the likelihood depends on why the car can't run and the dealership's individual policies. You can request quotes, but chances are a less-than-perfect car buyer like CarBrain will be able to make a better offer on your vehicle than a dealership would have.

Should I Repair My Car Before Trading It In?

In most cases, it does not make financial sense to fix your car before selling it or trading it in. The cost of repairing is almost guaranteed to exceed the value you'll get from selling the car post-repairs. Instead, find a buyer who can accept it in its current condition and save the money you would have spent repairing it.