How to Prepare Your Car Before a Trade-In So You Get the Best Price

If you want to get the best price for your trade-in, you need to spend some time getting your car ready to sell. Dealers look for certain things that indicate a car has been well-maintained when they’re pricing trade-ins. If those signs aren’t present when you bring your car onto the lot, you can expect to receive a low-ball offer.

The following tips will help to get your car in good shape before trading it in. Take care of each of these things before taking your vehicle to a dealership.

Car Wash

Wash the Car

First impressions matter. This especially applies to your car when you’re trying to trade it in. Before you head to the dealership, wash the car. It may also help to give it a good wax. Even though it’s easy for the dealer to take care of this very minor detail, it may cost you if you don’t do it beforehand. Put yourself in the mindset of a buyer. A dirty car sends the signal to the purchaser that the previous owner did not take care of it. A sparkling clean vehicle creates the impression that it has been taken care of.

Detail the Interior

You’ll also want to detail the interior. This removes any dirt, grime and odors that may detract from your car’s attractiveness. If anyone has ever smoked in the car, be sure to remove the smell of cigarette smoke. There are sprays that are designed to help with this smell, but having the seats thoroughly shampooed is necessary if you don’t want the odor to return. Give extra attention to any stains. Replace things like floor mats if you can’t get them to look clean again. These minor expenses can help command a higher trade-in price.

Repair Any Damages

Repair any damage that is visible on the body of your vehicle. Taking care of minor repairs can mean getting the most money for your trade-in. Assess the vehicle for chipped paint, scratches, dents, and other flaws that can lessen your car’s value. Have any window damage repaired at a glass shop. Replace any mirrors that may be cracked or broken. While a trade-in deal doesn’t feel the same as a sale, that’s exactly what it is. Prepare your car in the same way you would if you were selling it to an individual.

Remove Personal Items

If you’ve done any customization that you don’t plan to include in the sale, remove these items before driving to the dealership. Then, replace them or remove any signs that they were present. This may require buying a replacement item, such as an inexpensive stereo. However, the expense will pay off because a dealer will offer much less for a vehicle that is missing essential extras.

Replace the Tires

You may also want to replace your tires before you make the trade. If your tires are excessively worn, a cheap used replacement set can be a major improvement. Brand new tires can be expensive, but the dealer will offer you less money if new tires are going to be needed for resale. Make sure to clean your tires to make them look shiny before heading to the dealership.

Bring Maintenance Records

If you’ve kept your car well-maintained and have records that reflect that, bring them to the dealership with you. Records that show your car has been kept on a recommended service schedule are especially useful. Also, bring any records that relate to repairs. This shows that you have addressed any issues that may concern the buyer.

Getting the most money for your trade-in can mean getting lower car payments or a nicer car. Be sure to attend to every last detail. You want to person who is assessing your vehicle to be impressed with how well it has been maintained. Before you take your car in, look at it with a critical eye.

Ask yourself if you would be impressed with it. If not, take care of any details that jump out at you. They’ll almost certainly jump out at the dealer, too. You want to get the best possible offer to put toward your new car purchase. Addressing these things can help you get the most money for your trade-in.

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