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I am trying to convince husband to trade in suburban for a fuel efficient smaller vehicle. We only really need the big size occasionally - not enough to warrant it in my mind. We could rent a small trailer for the times we need more space (taking kids to college, etc). How does it work when you trade in for a less expensive car? Would i lose money? Our current monthly loan payments are around $1,100.00 and I'd want a prius.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Cherie Watters, President of Sales and Marketing at There is no problem to trade in a vehicle that is worth more that the car you are buying. What should happen is the dealership will issue a check back to you for the difference in the value of the trade car and the car you are currently buying. You do not have to lose the money and you can purchase a car that will cost you less.

Georgia Brown, Director of Education at National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) It sounds like you guys just need to do some research and comparison shopping. Your trade in value will depend on how much you owe on the suburban, if any, and it's "book" value. Check out or to see what your car's trade-in value is in your area. After you get all the necessary information and do some shopping, you will make a better decision. Sometimes just exploring the possibilities helps make you happy to keep what you have or finding the bargain of a lifetime! Good Luck!

Patricia J Roberts, Director Business Development  at, Inc. Regarding your question On the trade-in. There are so many variables involved such as "is the trade-in worth more than the new purchase?" To determine a trade in value, you could visit used car websites and enter the appropriate information about your vehicle to get an estimate of value. You could also go to the Toyota website and use their payment calculator to determine the cost of a prius with monthly payments. And of course one of the best ways is to visit a couple dealerships to get an idea of used-car trade-in value and new car purchase monthly payment. The determination of whether to keep your vehicle or purchase a new will be up to your family based on your current needs and current economic situation.

Chris Walsh, Owner at Consolidated Automotive Services of indiana Hi I can see why your husband is balking on the change. A Suburban to a Prius is a big change. You need to look at NADA guide for trade in value on the suburban. This is also based on mileage and condition. With gas prices as they are larger SUV's are not in real demand as they once were. But to the right buyer who needs one it is worth its weight in gold. Also you cannot pull a trailer with a Prius..I am not even sure there is a place to adapt a hitch even if you wanted to. Good luck

Jessie L Thatcher, F&I and Sales Specialist at Reynolds and Reynolds Company  (Retired) Thie first thing you need to do is call for your current payoff of your loan, then research the value of the vehicle taking into consideration mileage, condition and market value. This can be done on line at or Kelly Blue Book or you can take it to a dealer and ask for an appraisal (wholesale). Look at the ads in your area for this type of vehicle to get an idea of its value. Compare your payoff to your wholesale value. If it is higher any deficit will be added to any new car loan if you trade, if it is positive you can negotiate a refund of any overages. You can also sell your current vehicle privately and go into the new purchase with no pending loan or with cash in hand. Either way do your homework first, know where you stand and don't make any rash decisions.

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