How to Prepare Your Car for a Trade-In

June 27th, 2022 by

Preparing Your Car for a Trade-In: The Ultimate Guide

Like most things in life, the more you put into something, the more you’ll get out of it. The same applies to getting your car ready to use as a trade-in on your next vehicle — you want it to look as close to perfect as possible.

With used cars selling for record high levels along with worldwide inventory shortages, dealers are offering top dollar for trade-in vehicles. However, there are certain things that you can easily do to prepare your car for trade-in to get the most bang for your buck. Continue reading to learn six steps you can take to get your car ready for a trade-in.

What is a Trade-In?

A trade-in car is simply a vehicle that you offer to a dealership in exchange for credit towards the purchase of a new vehicle. The amount offered for a trade-in can greatly vary depending on the make, model, year, and condition of the vehicle.

Learn More: How to Trade-In a Car with an Existing Loan

How Does it Work?

Once you decide that you want to trade-in your vehicle, a representative from your chosen dealership will inspect the car, test drive it, and prepare an offer. Additionally, they may also run a vehicle history report — which will detail your car’s past damage, maintenance, and recalls. There are two main things a vehicle appraiser will be looking at when determining the value of your vehicle:

  • Vehicle age: The worth of a vehicle generally declines with age, this is called depreciation. If your vehicle is an older model, it has likely already depreciated a fair amount and will give you less of a return on your investment.
  • Mileage: A vehicle’s trade-in value tends to decrease the more it’s driven. Typically, value estimates are based on users driving their vehicles ten to 12 thousand miles per year. So, if you’re well over that estimate, your car’s resale value could be affected.

6 Ways You Can Prepare Your Car for Trade-In

There are several steps that you can take to ensure that you get the best deal when you bring it in for a trade. These important steps include:

1. Deep Clean it Inside and Out

They say appearances are everything, right? When it comes time to trade-in your vehicle, you’re going to want to make sure that it’s visually appealing and cleaned inside and out in order to secure the best deal. For the exterior, you should give it a good wash and a fresh coat of wax to make it shine. On the inside, you should get rid of all of your personal belongings, remove trash, and vacuum to get rid of all the unwanted dirt, dust, and food crumbs.

Though your car doesn’t have to be in pristine condition to get an offer, it does make a better impression and can increase your chances of getting a higher offer.

2. Address Small Issues and Repairs

If there are issues that are minor enough to fix yourself, now is the time to do so. While you may need the expertise of a mechanic for bigger issues, you can address things like paint touch-ups or new light bulbs easily. Each small problem that is fixed can add value back to your vehicle when it comes time to trade.

3. Gather All of Your Important Documents

Without the correct documentation, you won’t be able to trade-in your car. Things like the title of your car, vehicle maintenance reports, and your registration are all examples of important documents that you should remove from your vehicle before you trade it in. Removing these documents before you get to the dealership will ensure that you aren’t leaving anything important behind.

4. Remove Personal Items

Personal items such as car seats, cargo storage bins, bike racks, and window stickers should be removed from the vehicle prior to trading it in. These items may not necessarily decrease the value of your car, but you definitely don’t want to forget them when you leave your old car behind at the dealership.

5. Conduct a Personal Inspection

Conducting a personal inspection can help you address cosmetic issues you may not have noticed before. When performing your personal inspection, you should take a look around the exterior to determine if there are any dents or scratches that need repair before bringing it in. Additionally, you should test drive your car and pay close attention to anything that is out of the ordinary — and make notes of any odd noises, or feelings you encountered on your drive.

6. Determine Your Car’s Estimated Value

There are many different ways that you can determine your car’s estimated value. However, the best way to determine the value of your car is to use dealer-provided online services. You will simply need to input all of your vehicle’s required information and it should give you a rough estimate of the value of your trade-in. Doing this can give you a ballpark idea of how much you should be getting in return for your trade so you can be prepared to negotiate.

Value Your Trade at Battleground Kia

Many factors contribute to the value of your trade-in vehicle. However, by completing these six easy steps, you can ensure that you get the most bang for your buck when it comes time to sign on the dotted line. If you, or someone you know is wanting to trade-in their vehicle for a shiny new one, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up a time to bring your car into Battleground Kia!

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