Can You Trade In A Rusty Car?

People decide to change their cars for different reasons.

They may want one with better technology, one that drives faster, looks better, or meets their social status.

Of course, it’s okay if you don’t want to drive your rusty car anymore.

Rust does not only deface your car; it devalues your car. But can you trade it in?

On average, you can trade in a rusty car because no matter how bad a condition it is, a car dealership will accept it. However, the value you can trade in your rusty car is what you can’t guarantee, depending on the level of rust.

Car dealerships don’t really care about the dents, bends, rust, or damage on the car; they know how to make it work to their benefit.

However, the amount you get from the trade-in depends on different factors, often the car state.

This is why some people try to fix their car before trading it in. But is that the best thing to do? 

Read through this article before trading your car in.

Can You Trade In A Rusty Car?

Treating rust when it appears on your car seems like the normal thing to do.

However, rust can keep coming back, and if it persists after treating it repeatedly, it can get frustrating.

But rather than have the car rot in the garage, people opt for car trade-ins.

On average, you can trade in a rusty car if you don’t want to ride it anymore, and here are what some car dealerships say about trading in your rusty car:

Car dealershipsCan you trade in a rusty car?
J.D. PowerYes, car dealerships accept cars in any condition
Ride-TimeYes, Ride-Time values all cars fairly and accurately
WapCarYes, you can trade in a rusty car
MotorBiscuitYou can trade in a rusty car
Toyota of WhittierYou can trade in a rusty car and check the value of the trade
Cash Cars BuyersYes, you can trade in a rusty car, and the car dealership will either repair the car, wholesale, or auction it.

From these responses, you can say that trading in a rusty car is pretty much possible.

However, you should expect some things while trading in rusty cars.

First, you should expect they will try to buy your car at the least amount they can after examining it.

This is why you should know your car’s worth before a trade-in, so you don’t sell way below it.

To get a fair value for your car, here are some things you should know:

  • Understand your car’s condition or rating. Is the car fair, good, very good, or excellent?
  • Ensure you clean your car before a trade-in
  • Repair minor rust on the car before a trade-in
  • The higher the car mileage, the lower the value
  • Know your car’s value before trading it in

What Effects Does Rust Have On Trade-In Value?

It is not news that a car’s value depreciates with time, and evidence of this “time” is noticeable through rust.

Additionally, there are different rust stages, which may affect your car’s trade-in value.

Will your rusted car sell for a high price or not?

In total, rust affects a car’s trade-in value, and here’s what some car dealerships have to say; 

Car dealershipsThe effect rust has on the trade-in value
J.D. PowerRust affects how fast the car will sell and who buys the car. 
U Pull & Save Used Auto PartsMinor rust doesn’t affect the car’s trade-in value much, but serious rust can cause a drop in your car’s value.
Junk Car MastersRust makes your car’s trade-in value take a hit. If the rust impacts the mechanical workings of the car, the car’s trade-in value tanks.
Cash Cars BuyersRust affects the value of your car, but you should find out your car’s worth before a trade-in. Then your car factors in the rust damage to know your car’s trade-in value.

Rust affects how much your car will sell and who will buy it from you.

In fact, the level of rust also matters when determining your car’s trade-in value.

For example, surface rust is an easier fix and isn’t exactly damaging to the car, making it valuable to an extent.

That means the person buying it from you won’t spend much on repair of the affected area.

However, it’s better if you fix the surface rust, so you can sell at a higher value.

Asides from that, other things that determine the value of your car include:

  • The car’s mileage
  • The car type
  • How much the car is worth
  • The car’s material
  • The car’s age

Should I Repair Body Damage Before Trading In A Car?

No one is willing to sell at a loss, and while your car might have some body damage, you would still want to sell it at a good value.

This is why some people consider whether to repair body damage on their cars before trading them in.

But will repairing the damage make things better?

On average, you should repair your car’s body damage before trading it in if the damage is minimal and something you can fix on your own in no time and won’t cost you much.

Many people won’t buy cars with visible body damage.

In fact, before people buy a car, they will take their time to inspect it, know the service and accident history, and check the tears and wears on the tire.

Whether you should repair damages or not depends on the severity because, in the end, you may have it fixed and still get below the value you bargained for.

You may eventually end up with more expenses than you plan to save.

If you intend to sell directly to an individual, you may need to fix the damage, no matter how small or large.

You may or may not eventually get your desired value for the car, and of course, the amount you will get from the trade-in depends on the type of car and the car’s state.

But, of course, you’ll get more out of the trade-in if you sell the car privately than to a dealership.

However, you shouldn’t bother with repairs if you’re trading the car at a dealership.

In the end, it may not matter. However, before you do so, check at different car dealerships to get a favorable trade out of your damaged car.

A car dealership will take your car without you fixing the damage and even if it needs to be towed to their location.

Of course, that is after considering how much it will take to recondition the car. 

Nevertheless, if there are minor scratches or dents that you think you can fix easily with a small amount of money, you should repair the damage.

It will help you get more value for your car in the trade-in. 

Final Thoughts

Trading in your rusty car isn’t a problem; people sometimes trade damaged cars. You can trade in your rusty car, but you should be ready for some disappointing deals.

Just for that rust, dealers will pay lower than the car is worth.

Therefore, you should try to fix minor rust on cars before trading them in.

If it requires heavy repairs, you’re better off trading it in. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Rust affects your car’s trade-in value, 
  • Check at multiple dealerships before trading in your car,
  • Fix minor rust before trading-in your car,
  • Neglect any heavy damage on cars because it might cost more than save you money in a trade-in,
  • There’s a better chance of getting more value for your car if you trade it privately rather than at a dealership.


Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge