Calculate car's value prior to trade-in

Dear Terry,
I want to purchase another car because the one I have now has given me more trouble than I care to continue supporting. However, I'm still making payments on it. What steps do I need to take to get it paid off in order to purchase a dependable vehicle?
-- Jeanette Kindle

Dear Jeanette,
You should call your lender to get a payoff and then check a site like or to see what the car might be worth. You can check the trade-in value and the potential value of selling to a private party. If the value is greater than the loan amount, you're in good shape. If you owe more than it's worth, calculate when you'll have paid enough to make it worthwhile trading. You can generate an amortization schedule for your loan using Bankrate's " Monthly auto loan payment calculator."

Here are this week's reader questions:
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