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Palming off your trade-ins

Don’t make the mistake of getting yourself in some serious trouble in the name of making a quick buck.

Disposing of the trade-ins can be a challenge. If it’s not the type of vehicle you’d generally sell in your yard, the temptation to bend a few rules to quickly sell it may seem like a good idea at the time. Don’t make the mistake of getting yourself in some serious trouble in the name of making a quick buck.

We’ve got some advice on what is and what isn’t ok

When in a hurry to move a few units, some vehicle traders are tempted to list these through a personal Trade Me membership. This isn’t a viable loophole – if you’re a registered motor vehicle trader, you must declare your RMVT number on all your listings; whether it’s under a personal account, or a business account. Excluding this key detail is misleading to potential buyers.

The Fair Trading Act requires you make accurate representations about the condition of the vehicle at the time of the sale. As a professional trader you have a higher level of legal obligation than a private seller or a buyer.

While most people know what "as is where is" means, it’s not a compelling proposition when sight unseen online trading is involved. This is known as contracting out of the Consumer Guarantees Act and isn’t a good look for any professional trader.

The solution? Declare everything to avoid any legal repercussions and possibly losing your Trade Me membership. If you’ve noticed something running not-so-smoothly, tell the buyer this before they buy it. This means you’ve shifted the onus to the buyer, and they'll probably be delighted because they'll have bought exactly what they expected. On the off chance they aren't thrilled with their purchase, you'll have the option to take it back but also have the backing of both the law and Trade Me if you choose not to.

Here are a few things we’ve seen works really well for trade in sales:

  • Have you, or someone you trust, take the trade in for a drive.
  • Take photos of all cosmetic flaws so your buyer is able to make an informed decision right from the get go.
  • Offer a “peace of mind” return period, not necessarily a long one, but long enough to come across a pre-existing problem you both might’ve missed.
  • Encourage buyers to inspect the vehicle themselves before committing to the sale.
  • Find a reliable wrecker and cut your losses when needed.
  • Team up with a mechanic or use your workshop to bring new life to an old car, and earn a higher sale price.


Short term gain means long term pain and no one wants any unnecessary issues cropping up – especially with vehicles that are more hassle than they’re worth. So declare, fix, or scrap, but know that short cuts end in tears for all parties involved.