At the very least, you want fair market value for your trade-in vehicle. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate the emotional value (i.e., only you know what a wonderful car it’s been for the past 10 years and 200,000 Km) from the economic value.
To avoid a shock when you get to the dealership and have your trade-in appraised, I suggest customers take 5 minutes to check out the trade-in value of their vehicle online. CanadianBlackBook.com in Canada or Kelley Blue Book in the US are good places to start. You can plug in the year, make, model, mileage, and equipment on your vehicle and quickly get a range of what is being paid (in your geographic area) for comparable vehicles (by dealers). I get a lot of customers who check prices on Autotrader or Kijiji but remember, these are retail prices for certified and re-conditioned (if bought at a dealership) vehicles, whereas your trade-in is an “As Is”, uncertified vehicle being sold wholesale.
If you arrive at the dealership with a reasonable idea of the wholesale and retail values for your vintage vehicle, you are better able to negotiate a fair price. If your vehicle is accident free and in good condition, you are in a position to hold out for a price at the higher end of the value range. If the used car manager feels your trade-in can be put on the lot without major reconditioning costs, he will often be persuaded to pay a little above “fair market value” for your trade in order to close the deal on the new vehicle.