Dear Driving for Dollars,
I just bought a new car and I must have gone temporarily insane because it is not the car for me. Maybe I was having a midlife crisis, I don’t know, but I hate it. I would like to trade it in and get something else. I made a really big mistake and I realize I will not get what I paid, but I would obviously like to recoup as much as possible. Is there any hope of getting a reasonable trade-in or should I just sell it on my own? I own it outright. It has 5,000 miles on it and a small ding.
— Colleen

Dear Colleen,
Even though the car is almost new, you are still going to take a big hit since most of a new car’s depreciation happens the moment you drive it off the lot. To recoup the most, sell it yourself in a private party sale. That will almost always net you a bigger amount than trading it. If you do trade it in, do all the research on the value of your current car as well as the new one you are considering before visiting the dealer. You can find that information on a third-party, car-pricing website. At the dealer, negotiate the price of the new car first, without mentioning your trade-in. Then, negotiate your trade-in after the new car price has been agreed upon. This will help you get the best deal overall.

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