Thinking About Trading In Your Vehicle? Get in the Know.

Thinking About Trading In Your Vehicle? Get in the Know.

June 20, 2024    Financing & Leasing

If you’re dreaming of that new car smell but a brand new vehicle isn’t in your budget right now, maybe it’s time to think about a trade-in!

What is a trade-in? The process is actually quite simple. You bring in your used vehicle, a dealership evaluates what it’s worth and then you’re offered a sum of money to put toward a newer vehicle.

Keep reading to learn all about the trade-in process (even if your car is financed or leased) and how to maximize the outcome for you.

Let’s get you ready to upgrade your ride!


If you decide to trade in your vehicle with Birchwood, you’re choosing an easy process that will lead you to cash in your hand – or a new vehicle for a great price. If you’re ready to trade in, we can help you get started with Birchwood’s Sell or Trade Process:

Get an instant estimate

If you want an estimation of your vehicle value, you can use Birchwood’s Value Your Trade tool or the Canadian Black Book. Fill in the quick forms to get an estimate of the cash offer you may receive for your vehicle or towards a new vehicle.

Get an online quote

Birchwood also offers the option to submit photos of your vehicle and provide a few details to receive a qualified offer on your vehicle.

Visit in person

You can also meet with a dealership near you for an in-person inspection and receive a guaranteed offer.

When you come in for your appointment, we’ll have a look at your vehicle to determine its trade-in value. Here are some of the common things we’ll look for:

  • Vehicle make, model, year and popularity
  • Trim packages, extra features, add-ons
  • Kilometres driven
  • Accident, maintenance and repair history
  • Wear and tear on the interior, exterior and under the hood
  • Competitive prices for similar models in the area

Contact our team and choose the best location for you to visit.

Get an offer

Once we’ve evaluated your vehicle’s trade-in value, we’ll present you with an official offer for your used vehicle. This offer is based on its value and any costs it might take to get it reconditioned to be sale-ready.

If you’ve accepted the offer, you can use the earnings towards an upgraded vehicle in our inventory!


How do I trade in a vehicle that’s financed?

If you’re still paying off your car, you can still trade it in! When you’re trading in a financed vehicle, the value of your car becomes credit towards your loan. There’s a chance this credit will cover the remainder of your loan but if it doesn’t, your loan will roll over (minus the amount you were given for your used vehicle). You’ll then have one singular loan for your upgraded vehicle.

If your vehicle still has remaining finance payments, Birchwood will process the necessary paperwork for you to pay off your vehicle and pay any related fees. The remaining equity is yours to cash in.

How do I trade in a vehicle that’s leased?

You can absolutely trade in a leased vehicle! We’ll walk you through how it works so you can decide if it’s the best option for you.

When you lease a vehicle, you are essentially paying for the depreciation of the vehicle for the amount of time you’re driving it. You don’t own the vehicle and you either have to give it back or purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease term. If you want to trade in your lease, we’ll have to determine if the vehicle has any equity. The vehicle equity at the end of the lease term is called residual value and it’s the amount someone could purchase the car for at the end of the lease term. So, how can you trade in a leased vehicle? Here are a few scenarios.

Your lease contract has ended and you want to trade the vehicle in for a new one. In this scenario, you’d have to find out the trade-in value of your vehicle and compare it to the residual value determined in your lease contract. If the trade-in value is higher, you would have some equity that can be put toward your new purchase (or lease).

You’re nearing the end of your lease and want to trade the vehicle for a new one. If your lease isn’t quite up, the best-case scenario is the dealership pays off your old lease balance and buys the car from the lease company. If the dealership pays off the lease and takes the car for their lot, you could be given trade-in credit to put towards a newer vehicle. However, you run the risk that the cost of the lease contract is higher than the trade-in value, in which case you could end up owing more money on your new purchase.

If you want to trade in a lease, we recommend trading in when it’s complete or nearing the end, rather than earlier on in the lease contract where you may end up with high negative equity and no trade credit.

How do I trade in a vehicle that’s been paid off?

If you’re trading in a vehicle that’s fully paid off, you’re going to get the best bang for your buck! When your vehicle is appraised and given a value, you can use that credit as a down payment towards your upgraded vehicle. That down payment will mean fewer car payments in the long run, saving you money over time.

What if my car needs repairs?

Birchwood takes a wide variety of vehicles; as long as your vehicle is not in an otherwise excluded category, we can still give you an instant offer.


Like everything else in the car-buying process, trade-in value is up for negotiation. The better shape your car is in, the better price the dealer will offer. Here are some tips for maximizing your trade-in.

  • Clean the interior and exterior. This simple step is often overlooked. If you really want your car to shine (literally), give it a nice wash through-and-through before visiting the dealer.
  • Stay up-to-date with maintenance. Make sure you service your vehicle regularly and keep the records. You’ll likely get more value for your trade if your car has been well-maintained over the years.
  • Make any necessary repairs. If your vehicle has a noticeable mechanical or cosmetic issue, get it taken care of now as it could result in a higher trade-in value later.
  • Bring important documents. Grab a folder and bring all your vehicle documents including registration, service records and routine maintenance. This will show the dealer you’ve tended to the vehicle and will hopefully get you a higher trade-in value.
  • Don’t forget the accessories and extras. If your vehicle came with two keys, a movie system and remotes or a special sound system, make sure all of these added elements are brought to the dealership.
  • Know your vehicle’s estimated value. If you head to the lot with a general idea of your car’s value, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate. Do some research ahead of time to ensure you come prepared.


If a trade-in is in the cards for you, you’ve now got all the tools to make an informed decision that you’ll feel confident about. Our team would be happy to find a vehicle in our inventory that’s right for you! Contact us today to get the process started.

Chelsea Kroeker
Written by

Free Buyers' Guide

Download our New to Canada Guide

Download Now
Free Buyers' Guide