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The automotive industry is competitive, and car buyers such as yourself are more knowledgeable and researched than ever. There are print ads in magazines and in the newspaper, car ads on television, car ‘cameos’ in TV shows, and plastered all over the internet.

Car manufacturers and dealers — including Honda — love to tell you about their innovative cars, trucks, and SUVs and boast about their lowest pricing and best incentives. What they often neglect to tell you is how you can benefit even more on your new car purchase with something you already have:

Your trade-in.

Whether you currently drive a Honda or some other make, you’ll most likely be looking to trade it in to us when you buy your new (or new-to-you) vehicle. Frankly, that’s part of the car-buying experience that ruffles the most feathers. You want the most value for your car and the dealership doesn’t want to overpay, yet wants you to buy your new car from them. This is a delicate balancing act…but there doesn’t have to be.

Whether you are bringing your car to the dealership to trade it in or planning your current car purchase with the intention to trade up in a short time, there are ways to maximize the true value of your vehicle.

1. Keep a clean, accident-free car history. This may be easier said than done, though its results are tested and true. Vehicles that have a clean CarProof history command a higher resale value.

It’s quite simple, actually. Picture yourself presented with two identical vehicles to choose from. One has a clean history and the other has an accident on record, though minor. Which one would you choose? It will be the accident-free car every time.

That doesn’t mean having an accident on record makes your vehicle worthless but it can affect the trade-in value of your car. Dealers have to resell your trade and are obligated to inform buyers of any accident history so you shouldn’t expect the same value as if your car has a clean CarProof report.

The easiest way to maintain a clean CarProof history is to drive responsibly. Don’t take unnecessary risks driving in inclement weather, and be aware of your surroundings. You can’t control how others drive but you can minimize the potential for accidents with some caution on your part.

2. Get an automatic transmission. Unless your vehicle is a high-performance model or a specialty vehicle of some sort, an automatic transmission commands the higher resale value. A report by Edmunds.com explains that manual transmissions account for only four percent of vehicle sales. Though they may be less expensive to purchase initially, manual transmissions don’t have as large a market for buyers, meaning less appeal for a dealership to have it on their used car lot.

3. Always buy with the intention on resale. There are always several option packages and colour choices when you buy a car and it can be really tough to choose the right one for your immediate needs. You should always buy a vehicle so that it fits your current lifestyle, but consider its future appeal when you do.

If you don’t require air conditioning to be comfortable when you’re driving, you’ll still want to get a new car with air conditioning. Cars without A/C are a hard sell and their trade value reflects their lack of market appeal. The same goes for trim packages. The higher the trim package, generally the higher the trade value. More luxurious and well-appointed vehicles are naturally more appealing to buyers so you can expect a higher trade-in value as a result.

Bold, bright colours are by far less popular than more neutral colours and it can be quite a challenge to find a buyer for your yellow, bright green, or powder-blue car. Stick with standard colour choices for the best trade value.

The key point here is to consider your vehicle’s future appeal to prospective buyers when you are purchasing your new car.

4. Keep your vehicle in good working order. Though it goes without saying, if there are mechanical problems with your car the trade-in value will be affected. In particular, obvious issues like an illuminated Check Engine light, clunky, rattling suspension, and a poorly-shifting transmission will immediately set off alarms in your vehicle appraiser’s head at the dealership.

Your car doesn’t have to be in absolutely perfect shape (though it helps). It’s expected that your trade-in will require some type of repair or maintenance before it can be resold. After all, it is a used vehicle! When your car is appraised for a trade-in, it’s being checked for appeal and expensive issues that could cut deep into the dealership’s potential profit.

5. Don’t smoke in your vehicle. One of the simplest ways to destroy your car’s resale value is to smoke inside it. Whether cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or ‘alternative’ substances, the smell is incredibly difficult to remove and people with sensitivities or allergies to smoke can react to even trace amounts.

It’s costly for the dealership to try to remove the smoke smell and even then it doesn’t always come out like new. Buyers are less likely to buy a smoker’s car in excellent condition than one slightly worse for wear but clean and smoke-free.

Stay tuned for more tips on maximizing the value of your trade-in.