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What's The Best Way To Handle A Trade-In On A Car With Mechanical Issues?

Illustration for article titled Whats The Best Way To Handle A Trade-In On A Car With Mechanical Issues?
Photo: VW

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and a professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing trading in a car with potential issues and whether to sell a car just to take advantage of today’s used-car market.

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First up, what is the best way to handle a trade-in on a car with known, but not obvious, mechanical issues?

“Almost 5 years ago I got a ’16 GTI autobahn with PP in Blue. Pretty cool, huh? My first car that wasn’t a 4 cyl Japanese make. I loved it. Both the performance and interior were the best i ever had. I spent too much, but that was OK.

3 days ago a tech at the dealer found metal shavings in the oil pan. I don’t know anything about under the hood, but that’s bad. I did all rec maintenance early, but I’m at 73k miles. The warranty is 60k. I’m SOL, right? My boss insists this is too big a failure for me to get nothing....but I’m SOL, right?

This was found while investigating a ticking coming from the engine. They completed the oil change and now my car runs fine. Am I facing any issues if I trade this into a different dealer while it’s still running well? The rep at the dealer said this wouldn’t come up in a trade-in inspection.”

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In regard to VW covering whatever issues are going on in the motor, generally speaking, unless you can prove the issue was present during the warranty period, there isn’t much you can do. As for a trade-in, that tech was correct, most dealers are not going to do a deep dive on the oil condition as part of a trade-in evaluation.

Next, up, is it worth selling a car in this current market even if you are attached to it?

“So I’m struggling with selling my truck to Carvana. I checked their value for me selling them my Colorado. I’ve been underwater on this since I bought it, and now I’ve got equity.

Am I insane to give up a perfectly good truck to take advantage of the higher values now with the expectation that they’ll be corrected in the future?

Obviously, I don’t have any current need for the truck... but it also means I have nothing to insure. I also have a problem with attachment to things.”

Unless this particular truck is really special to you, this may be a financial opportunity that is unlikely to present itself again any time soon. As you said, you don’t really need the truck. You can always buy another one if the mood strikes, but it seems to me that it is less likely you will regret selling the truck and coming out on top than you would regret not having a truck if the need arises.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

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DISCUSSION

So you are advocating that someone trade in (i.e. sell) a car that has a very serious known problem without disclosing that fact? It makes no difference if you are selling to a dealer or private party, that is dishonest and immoral.