How to Trade in a Car That Is Not Paid Off?

Signing Finance Documents for Car


If you’re like many Chapel Hill drivers, at some point you might want to learn how to trade in a car that is not paid off. This is actually quite common when looking to upgrade your Durham ride. Although trading in a car that is already paid off is quite an easy process, there are a few extra steps you need to take when learning how to trade in a car you still owe on. Let’s learn more about trading in your vehicle with Hendrick Cadillac Southpoint today! For more information, feel free to contact us anytime!



Do You Have Positive or Negative Equity? 

The first step in learning how to trade in a car that is not paid off is to decide whether you have positive or negative equity:

  • Positive equity: your car is worth more than what you still owe
  • Negative equity: your car is worth less than what you still owe 

A trustworthy tool for determining whether you have positive or negative equity is Kelley Blue Book®, which will help you calculate how much you’ll get for a trade-in. You can also use the trade-in calculator from Hendrick Cadillac Southpoint for a fast and accurate estimate. If your offer is less than what you owe, you have negative equity; if it’s more than what you owe, you have positive equity.

It’s better to have positive equity, as the entire trade-in process will be very straightforward. You can easily trade in your current vehicle and have some money left over to put towards your new ride. If you do have negative equity, you have to evaluate whether trading in before the car is paid off is a good idea for your financial situation.

Trading in a Car with Negative Equity

If you want to trade in your car with negative equity, there are a few different ways you can do this:

  • Make up the difference you still owe after accounting for the trade-in price. This is the most straightforward option, and it will allow you to turn your financial situation around. This is a great choice if you have some extra cash lying around. 
  • Another option is to transfer the amount you still owe over to a new loan. This is the most popular option when shoppers have negative equity. It’s important to note however, that transferring this amount over to your new loan will increase your monthly payment, and you’ll still be paying for a vehicle you do not own. In short, this will require you to pay off the difference while also starting to pay off your new vehicle; however, if you are financing a less expensive vehicle this time around, this can end up being a good option.

Schedule An Appraisal With Hendrick Cadillac Southpoint Today!

Now that you know how to trade in a car that is not paid off, come stop by Hendrick Cadillac Southpoint to schedule your appraisal. While you’re here, meet with our finance center to discuss financing options, and if you plan on buying a new car, come check out the new vehicle specials we have available near Cary!

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Hendrick Vehicle Disclaimer:
$699.00 Dealer Administrative Fee not included in advertised price.

Advertised prices EXCLUDE options added by the dealer and displayed on the vehicle’s window sticker addendum. Please contact dealer for additional details.


All prices exclude all taxes, tag, title, registration fees and government fees. Out of state buyers are responsible for all taxes and government fees and title/registration fees in the state where the vehicle will be registered. All prices include all manufacturer to dealer incentives, which the dealer retains unless otherwise specifically provided. Dealer not responsible for errors and omissions; all offers subject to change without notice; please confirm listings with dealer.
All vehicles may not be physically located at this dealership but may be available for delivery through this location. Transportation charges may apply. Please contact the dealership for more specific information. All vehicles are subject to prior sale.

Additional Disclaimers:
Well-qualified customers who purchase a new, used, or certified preowned vehicle, 5 model years or newer with less than 72K miles between January 2, 2023 and February 6, 2023 and finance through a participating dealer and lender have an option to defer monthly payments for 90 days from contract date. Finance charges begin to accrue on the date you sign the Retail Installment Sale Contract at the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the contract. May not be combined with other preferred lender financing offers. 72 months maximum term limit. Non-commercial transactions only. Equal monthly payments only. Dealer participation required. Not available to Pennsylvania residents, see your dealer for details. Must take retail delivery by February 6, 2023.


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