How to Trade in Your Car When the Check Engine Light Is onby Tim Plaehn
A check engine light should not be a serious barrier to trading in a car. Some research before you go visit the dealership will allow you to trade in the car and receive the best value for the trade. Modern cars have an onboard engine control computer and other instruments that monitor the car's functions. These all work to ensure the car runs efficiently. If the computer senses something that prevents optimum operation, it will cause the check engine light to illuminate.
Determine the cause of the check engine light. Auto repair shops or auto parts stores can often use their equipment to plug into the engine control computer and determine what fault caused the check engine light. Many locations will perform the diagnosis for free; just ask first if there is a charge.
Get an estimate on the cost of the repair to fix the fault indicated by the check engine light. A reputable repair shop should give you a good faith estimate of the repair cost.
Use an online auto value website like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds to determine the trade in value of the car. The amount you receive from the dealership should be the trade in value, minus the repair costs.
Go to the car dealership to trade in the car. Your research into the value of the car and the cost to fix the check engine light should allow you to negotiate a fair value for the trade in. Suggest the dealer do their own verification of the cause of the check engine light.
- To trade the car in, go to a dealership of the same brand as the car. They have the equipment to check the engine malfunction and make the repair.
- Be upfront and honest about the check engine light, but stick to the value you expect to get for the car.
- If it turns out the check engine light can be remedied inexpensively, get it done and avoid the negotiation hassle at the dealership.
- Most dealerships will use the check engine light malfunction as an excuse to pay you less than the car may be worth. Be ready for a very low offer for the trade in. Your research will show the dealer you will not be taken advantage of.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.