Yes, when buying a car or truck, your trade in vehicle can serve as your down payment. However, there are factors to consider in that decision.
1. Dealers accept trade ins and cash down payments.
The amount of total down payment you’ll need is governed by two things:
- The amount that the bank requires in order to provide you with a loan. Your credit score is the driving factor.
- The amount of monthly payment that fits your budget.
2. Is your trade in loan paid off?
- If your trade in loan is paid off, the dealer will appraise your trade in and give you the price they’re willing to pay for your vehicle (actual cash value or ACV). You can use that amount as a down payment, or, in some circumstances, you can take part of it in cash back to pay for other important things in your life.
- If your trade in loan is not paid off, the dealer will get in touch with your bank for the pay off amount and compare it with the price they are giving your for your trade in (ACV).
- A positive difference (you owe less on your loan than your trade in’s ACV) means you can use the amount for your down payment.
- A negative difference (sometimes called “negative equity” – you owe more on your loan than your trade in’s ACV) gets a bit more complicated and #3 below explains more.
3. Does your trade in have negative equity?
Equity is the difference between your trade in’s actual cash value (ACV) and the amount you owe on the loan. For example, if your vehicle’s ACV is $5,000 and you owe $3,000, you have $2,000 in equity that can be used as a down payment toward the new car purchase.
If your trade in’s ACV is $3,000 and your loan pay off is $5,000, you have negative equity.
When faced with negative equity in a trade-in, you’ll need to weigh all of your options. There are three main courses of action you can take:
- Pay off the difference – This is ideal if your negative equity amount isn’t too high and you have the cash. Not everyone is in a position to do this.
- Roll it over – “Roll over” the negative equity into the new loan. Not all lenders are willing to do this, so make sure you ask if this is an option. The downside to rolling over negative equity is that you’ll be increasing the amount of your new loan, which will increase the monthly payment. However, in many cases, when it’s amortized over the full term of the loan, it is affordable.
- Wait it out – The last option is to wait until there’s no negative equity. Waiting until your trade-in is paid off or the loan reaches a point where there is equity could make your next car purchase easier – but it’s not a guarantee. Trade in values fluctuate and now may be the best time to buy.
The only way to know for sure on trading in your car or truck as a down payment…
…is to visit a trusted Denver dealer who’s got many years of experience providing seasoned advice and helping people get the best car loan.