trade-in vehicle with dealership

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for a Trade-In

If your car isn’t running the way it should, or if you have your eye on something shiny and new (to you!), then a trade-in is often your best bet. It is a big decision to trade in your current vehicle for a different one, but it is much simpler than a private sale. Trading your vehicle can also be a great way to lower your monthly payments on a different vehicle. 

Whether you are trading in your car or just selling to a dealership without purchasing another car there, pay attention to all the details. Getting a fair price for your old vehicle is important, but ultimately the dealer is the one who determines the value. 

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for a Trade-In

Before taking your vehicle to a dealership for a trade-in, the first step is to prepare your vehicle. Dealers will take their time to look at every aspect of your vehicle, inside and out. It’s their job to determine the value when you bring it in, so looks are very important in this case.

Here are a few tips to getting your vehicle prepped for a trade-in: 

Fix the Small Issues

You might feel silly paying to get the small things fixed when you’re just going to trade in your vehicle, but a small amount of money can make a big difference in its overall value. Check all the car’s lights, including interior bulbs and replace if needed. Check all fluid levels, such as coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid) and be sure to top them off. If your car has any small dings or scratches, there are DIY kits for repairing small imperfections. An oil change and tire alignment can help the vehicle run more smoothly.

Have the Important Paperwork

Gather all the important paperwork and documents for your vehicle. This includes the car’s title, service records, registration, and anything else a potential buyer may want to see. Cars that are well taken care of  with scheduled maintenance and well-kept records retain more of their value. If you do not have a physical record history, no worries – the dealership can pull one themselves! 

Have the Extras

Bring any extra sets of keys or accessories along with your vehicle. This may include:

  • Any additional floor mats if you swapped out the originals for new or all-weather mats.
  • Instruction manuals for the vehicle’s navigation or technology systems
  • Have the little accessories that accompany the vehicle. The dealer doesn’t give credit for those features if they are not with the vehicle at trade in. 

Do Your Own Inspection

Before taking your vehicle to the dealership, do your own inspection. Look for exterior dents and dings that can’t be buffed out with at-home products. Take your vehicle for a drive and pay attention to every little detail – any sound, rattle, or noise that seems out of place. If there are any issues with the way the car handles, any electrical problems, or even how the tires look, take note.

Wash and Detail

Clean the vehicle, inside and out. GIve it a thorough wash and a fresh coat of wax – some extra shine will give it a good first impression. On the interior, clean it from floor to ceiling. Take out all your personal belongings and vacuum it, steam the floor mats to remove any dirt, stains, and scents. If you do not want to clean it yourself, the price to pay for someone detailing your car may go a long way at the dealership. 

Do Your Homework

One of the biggest mistakes people make when going to trade in their car is not knowing what their current vehicle is worth. When you walk into a dealership, you should have a “price tag” in mind of what your vehicle is worth and how much you want for the trade in. This will provide a clear, honest transaction with the dealer. 

To do your homework, pretend you are a buyer and look up the vehicle you want to trade-in. Look at what other people are asking for your specific make and model, especially locally. This will give you a good understanding of the market and what you can most likely get for your trade-in. 

Understand The Dealer’s Perspective

Ultimately, the trade-in is left up to the dealer. Some people are confused as to why a dealer offers a lower trade-in price. However, there are factors that a dealer has to consider when looking at a trade-in and when determining the value. 

One of the major concerns is how quickly your trade-in will sell to a new buyer. Your vehicle will get inspected, walked around, and checked to see if the paint needs work, and to see if any damages have been done to it. Once they determine what repairs are necessary and the cost to get the vehicle in like-new condition, the dealer will offer a trade-in value for your vehicle.

To learn more about trading in your vehicle, contact the team at Trust Auto today.