After you've checked these resources, you'll be armed with the high-end and low-end sale values for your car. When the dealer asks what you want for your car, hit them with the high end of a realistic price, says Reed.
2. Make sure the time is right. Convertibles don't sell well during Seattle's gray, winter months, but four-wheel drive vehicles do, Emerson says. Likewise, if you owe more on your car trade-in than you think you'll get from a dealer, you're in a very weak bargaining position, according to Reed.
"Follow the news and trends," says Mark Scott, spokesman for Autotrader.com in Atlanta. "When gas prices go up, people demand more fuel-efficient cars and the values of trucks and SUVs go down."
3. Spruce up the car. Give the car the equivalent of "curb appeal" so the potential buyer's initial reaction is positive.
Emerson, who was a car saleswoman for 13 years, says you should rid the car of any pet or smoke odors. If needed, take it to a dealer or a detail shop and ask for an ozone generator to remove unpleasant smells.
"Remove all your personal items, wash it and vacuum the inside," says Reed. "There should be nothing to stand in the way of the car dealer visualizing your car on his lot."
4. Show your records. If you've kept all the maintenance records on your car, take them with you and ask the dealer if you can get more for your car because of them, says Scott.