Prepping Your Car for a Trade-In

June 10th, 2021 by

When evaluating a trade-in that you bring in as a credit on your new car purchase, we’re only supposed to judge the make, model, and condition in determining its value. But our appraisers are just as human as anyone else. They can be influenced by a car that’s been prepped to look good at our dealership. Here are a few tips for making that happen.

Get It Clean

Making a car shine as if it were new makes it more attractive to potential buyers. It also rewards us with less work to get ready for sale. Give your car a good cleaning, beginning with the interior.

Remove anything that does not belong there, such as school supplies, old toys, and air fresheners. Then vacuum the interior thoroughly, paying particular attention to the nooks and crannies between the seats and the carpeting where dirt may have been gathering for years. Don’t forget to wipe the interiors of the windshield and the windows.

You can then proceed with the exterior, by either taking it to a car wash or do it yourself at home. Be sure to take care of the underbody and the tires, which may have gathered dirt, grime, and chemicals used to improve traction in the winter. For the best results, take your vehicle to an auto detailer who can make sure that every component looks good.

Test and Fix

Take your car on a test drive on local streets and highways, and make a note of any problems. Perhaps you’re hearing strange noise or an unusual smell is wafting through the climate control system. Check the lights and other exterior functions by having a friend sit in the driver’s seat while you walk around the vehicle. If you discover any small problems, such as a burned-out light bulb or an underinflated tire, it might be worth your while to get it fixed before bringing it in. However, if you experience major problems, such as loud transmission noises or grinding of the brakes, just tell us about them. Our certified automotive technicians can fix these issues before we put your trading up for sale.

Bring the Docs

Gather all the necessary documents, such as the car’s title, registration, service records, and anything that you think will be useful in judging the value of the car. If we have proof that you have been maintaining your vehicle rigorously for as long as you’ve owned it, it increases our confidence that there’s nothing wrong with it. This will translate to a higher trade-in price.

Don’t forget to include as many of the original booklets, documents, or accessories that came with a vehicle, such as an owner’s manual, instructions for using the multimedia system, or all the Smart Key fobs. Otherwise, you may be penalized for any items that were once original to the car but are now missing.

One thing you do not need is the vehicle history report because we know how to get that ourselves.

Determine the Value

After you’ve discovered all the car’s problems, corrected them, and made the vehicle look like you, find out what it’s worth. You’ll then be better able to determine whether what we’re offering you is a fair price.

Many sites are available that will do this for you. However, be sure to distinguish between the high blue book value, which is what a retail buyer will offer you versus the wholesale value, which is the highest price that any dealer, including ourselves, can give you.

You can get an estimate of value using our convenient online form, which asks for such basic info such as make, model, and mileage, and that asks a series of questions to determine condition. One of our staff will then contact you to give you a preliminary trade-in value.

If you want to know how the trade-in value could affect your price, check out our online Payment Calculator. You can enter the vehicle price, interest rate, loan term, down payment, and trade-in value to estimate your monthly payment. You can adjust the value of your trade-in or other factors such as the loan term or interest rate, to bring the monthly payment in line with your budget.

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