Auto trade in amounts on line. Accurate?

How close to accurate are the on line automobile sites ( Edmonds, NADA, Kelly) in regards to trade in amounts on a used car?
I’m gathering ammunition before I hit the dealership, and I don’t want to take a bath on the trade in amount. I averaged the numbers on all three sites, and came up with twelve grand. Do I stick to my guns on that figure? Or, do I succumb to their lies?

It’s data compiled in aggregate form from dealer-reported averages, so you should be able to stick to your guns unless they have a really, really compelling reason to make you think your trade in is worth less.

I really think it’d be valuable if those sites reported median trade in prices, too, so you have a better idea of where you fall.

I wouldn’t be too concerned with the actual figure that you read on-line for your trade-in, just keep it in mind. The game with buying a car is basically being well-informed on the total financial transaction. First, find the invoice price for your car – what the dealer paid for your car. Some sites (the ones you mentioned) make this pretty easy while factoring in any options. Once you get the total cost that the dealer paid for the car, write it down. Next, try to get an understanding of how popular the vehicle you’re buying is. What about the color? Options? In other words, how much is this vehicle in demand? In the unlikely event that dealerships are selling the vehicle over MSRP, it’s in high demand. In this case, ignore what I said about invoice costs… but again, this is unlikely – especially now; new models come out next month; dealerships are unloading their inventory.

Now, say your trade-in is $10,000. The invoice price is $25,000. Your target cost for the car is $15k. The dealership can afford it, you know this based on your research. Get as close to that number as possible and be firm. Get a couple of delalerships involved. Get them competing against each other. Don’t focus only on your trade-in price. It’s a small part of the total cost.

I have traded in three cars in the last 5 years. In each case, the trade-in amount I was given was within $200 ($5-9000 trade-in values) of the “fair condition” value from, using the correct options and mileage. Obviously, that is just my experience and ymmv. One was at Carmax in Baltimore and the other two were at a local Chevy dealer.