Auto Industry Insider: How To Boost Your Car’s Trade-In Value

If your car has seen better days, but you want to sell it on and make a little money, there are some things you can do to get it into better condition and boost the value back up a little. Some of these tips will cost you nothing, whereas others may need some investment. Whether you want to do up your car yourself or to sell it, you can help it to hold its value with these easy tips.

Clean It

Like anything in life, first impressions matter when you’re trying to sell a car. A grubby, dirty car is far less likely to sell than one that is clean and shiny. A clean car will be able to get a higher price. Spend some time cleaning the car, whether you it yourself, give the kids some pocket money to do it, or take it to a car valet.

Don’t forget the inside either. Clear out the boot of any junk, tidy the glove box and give the upholstery a vacuum. Clear out the side compartments too and get rid of any rubbish in the car.

If you have a dog, try not to let in the car unless you have too. When you do put the dog in the car, make sure cover the seats, and clean the car properly afterwards. Lingering dog smell won’t encourage a buyer.

If the paint job has seen better days, polish the car with wax to return some of its former shine. It can also make the color look less faded and closer to whatever it was originally.

Have Any Minor Dents Repaired

Damage can put off a potential buyer, as they’ll immediately have to consider what the repairs will cost them if they buy, which drops the price they’ll be willing to spend. If there are minor issues that won’t cost you much to put right, have them repaired. This could include sorting out any dents or dings, or buffing out scratches on the paint work.

Consider Car Detailing

If your car is in need of some more serious TLC, you should consider car detailing. A good car detailing service will be a top to bottom cleaning of the car, with specialised tools and techniques. As well as a clean inside and out, a car detailer will also handle minor cosmetic damage like scratches in the paintwork. Water spots, dull paint, stains on the upholstery, mould and smells will all be dealt with, leaving your car looking as good as new.

Get Paperwork In Order

A serious buyer of a used car will need to know that it has been properly looked after under your ownership. To help see this history, make sure you have the service book, and that it is properly filled in by any garage that does work on the car. Keep any invoices for any work you have done, as well your MOT certificates. Being able to show the car has well maintained will mean you have a better chance of getting a higher price for the car.

Have It Serviced

Save your buyer from having to worry about getting the car serviced after they buy it. Take the car to be serviced and make sure the MOT is up to date before you sell the car. You’ll be able to and have fixed any issues that could drag the value down. Ticking the box of a recent service can help your car stand out in an oversaturated market.

Find Everything That Originally Came With The Car

Have you taken anything out of the car? Make sure you’ve put back anything that originally came with the car that you’ve removed and stashed somewhere else. This could mean things like the parcel shelf, the spare tire, or any tool kit that was in the car when you bought it. Add any extra keys too. With everything on hand, you reduce the reasons a buyer can decide to buy from someone else who doesn’t have everything from the car.

Smarten It Up

If you’re making any upgrades or changes to the car, make sure they’re done properly. Buy original parts, such as alloy wheels, instead of cheap versions. Ensuring you have quality parts means that the value of the car stays up, and the buyer isn’t put off by shoddy work.

Keep The Mileage Low

Mileage is a key factor in the value of a used car. Even if your car looks very new and is in excellent condition, a high mileage will drive down the value a lot. If you’re planning on selling your car on, try not to push up the mileage too much. Try and stay below any large round figures, as these don’t look good to a buyer.

Stay On Top Of The Maintenance

Your car should have a schedule for maintenance printed in the back of the owner’s manual. Make sure you stay on top of that schedule, so you know the car is kept in good condition. Don’t put off any repairs that need doing, whether they are mechanical or cosmetic, before they become bigger problems.

Park The Car Under Shelter

Where the car is parked makes a lot of difference to the amount of maintenance you have to do to the car. Sunlight and the weather can age your car more quickly and cause some damage. When you can, park the car under shelter, preferably in a garage or carport. Don’t park under trees, in case of falling twigs and brands causing damage.

Drive Safely

A history of collision damage won’t do the value of your car any favors. Don’t try and cover it up, as any dealer will be able to spot any body work that you’ve needed to have done. Every car is likely to have the occasional dent or scratch, but try to keep them to a minimum.

If your car is involved in an accident, make sure that any repair work you have done is done by an expert, using factory parts only. Keep the receipts, so you can accurately what work was done and that the work was done properly. Don’t be tempted to be evasive, as it looks like you’re heading much worse damage than you actually are.

Sell At The Right Time

If you’re selling at the right time, you can get a better price. Check the listings near you for used cars. If prices look low, or there isn’t much demand, hold off on selling. The price of fuel can make a difference to the price you get for the car too, so wait until fuel prices drop.

By the same logic, don’t take your car to a dealer at a busy time of day. If they have more time to look over your car, you can probably get a much better price than if the dealer has had to look it over quickly.

Replace Damaged Components

Before making any plans for big repairs, speak to your mechanic about the cost. You need to be sure the cost of the repairs won’t outweigh the trade in value of your car. Some repairs are usually worth the outlay. Broken lights are generally cheap to replace, but make a lot of difference to a prospective buyer.

If the windshield is cracked, this is cheaper to repair than the dropped price a buyer would offer if they know the windshield was cracked. A crack is also far less of a problem than the much larger damage a broken windshield can cause. You could also look into replacing any worn-out tires for a reasonable price.

Contact Several Dealers

If you’re going to sell the car through a dealer, call around several dealerships to make sure you’re getting the best offer. Pick the dealer who offers you the best price. Be prepared to convince a dealer of what your car is worth. Go in prepared with information about your car’s history, and check the value of the car online so you know if you’re being short-changed.

Take Good Pictures

If you’re going to sell the car yourself, you need good pictures of the car to show it off. Take plenty of pictures of the car, from several angles. Include pictures of the inside, and make sure you include a picture of any damage, so a buyer can clearly see it before deciding if they want to come and look at the car in person. Take the pictures in daylight, and make sure they’re all crisp and clear.

List the car in the local paper with one good picture. You can use the other pictures for any online listings. Local Facebook pages can be a great place to sell a used car. When you list the car, include lots of details to help a buyer make an informed decision. Include the age, mileage and any information about recent services or MOTs. If you sell online, be prepared to answer any questions about the car, and give lots of details.