Part II

You’ve already read 5 ways to maximize the value of your trade-in. You’ve learned that:

  • Cars with a clean accident record on CarFax hold their value better.
  • Vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission sell easier.
  • Well-equipped vehicles are more desirable for resale.
  • Cars with fewer mechanical issues get a better trade value.
  • Smoking harms your vehicle’s worth in a big way.

But there are many more tips to benefit from. You can retain the value of your trade-in by following these additional tips.

1. Have decent tires on your vehicle. Tires are an obvious expense when your trade-in is being appraised. A new set of tires on an average vehicle toes the line of a thousand dollars. This is an area the dealer will use to negotiate a lower trade-in value as it’s an expense they will have to incur.

Equipping your trade-in with decent tires doesn’t always mean NEW tires. A good, used set of tires can be installed to increase your trade value and used tires can often be found for $30-40 each. Just make sure they have at least half their tread remaining to optimize your return on investment.

2. Turn in two keys and the owner’s manual. Used cars always sell best when they have at least two keys and the owner’s manual. Car buyers want the peace of mind of two keys and a manual without the extra expense or hassle of obtaining them on their own. If you’ve lost a key or your manual, have it replaced before trading your car in. The money you spend on it will easily come back to you on your trade in.

3. Have a damage-free windshield. The most common damage on a vehicle is a cracked or chipped windshield. It’s normally a minor cost to pay an insurance deductible to have it replace or repaired when glass damage occurs, though when your car is traded in, the cost of repair is transferred to the dealer and it’s much more expensive than your insurance deductible.

Having your cracked or chipped windshield replaced before trading it in is an easy way to retain more value at a very low cost.

4. Take care of your interior. Especially when a vehicle is used for work, it’s all too easy to let the interior condition of your vehicle fall into disrepair. Upholstery is expensive to repair for anyone, dealerships included. That includes scratches and runs in the fabric or leather, not just rips, tears, and punctures.

If you are diligent to keep your interior in good condition, you will reap the rewards when it comes time to trade it in. Don’t leave heavy or sharp objects on your seats. Clean up spills when they occur. Condition your leather seats regularly.  Your care will make a massive difference when you trade your car in.

5. Buying Canadian makes a difference. There was a significant trend a few years ago where both private purchasers and dealerships were importing American vehicle in alarming numbers due to the economy. Now, when those vehicles are being traded in, they don’t receive the same value as their Canadian counterparts.

Not only are they often equipped differently – like models with leather seats WITHOUT heated seats – but they are clearly from across the border. Their gauges are in miles per hour, not kilometres. Their origin may not make a mechanical difference, though when you put similarly-equipped Canadian and American models side-by-side, the Canadian one will be chosen every time. The American car can’t command the same price.

6. Buy the extended warranty. Not only will you get the peace of mind of having coverage in the event of an unexpected failure, but many extended warranties are transferrable, like the Honda Plus Extended Warranty.

That means the new owner will have coverage against the unforeseeable expenses that come with buying a used car. It immediately adds significant value to your trade when you can offer that kind of protection to a buyer.

7. Detail your vehicle thoroughly. Particularly if you own a dog that sheds, a complete clean on the inside of your vehicle will pay dividends. Don’t make this a one-time event, however. If you have a dog that sheds or is particularly smelly, clean your interior on a regular basis so the smell doesn’t become permanent.

Like with smoking, allergies to pet dander flare up with the most minimal exposure in some people. You can expect that if your car smells like your dog when you go to trade it in for your new vehicle, the trade value will be less than it could be.

8. Equip your vehicle with rust protection. It’s where we live. Our climate requires salt be used to keep roads clear for optimal driving conditions. That salt can and will cause corrosion on exposed metal parts including your undercarriage and virtually everything under the hood.

Get rust protection, whether in the spray-on form of undercoating and rust protection or as an electronic rust-prevention device or module. It will keep your vehicle in the best possible shape while you own it and will command a little extra from the dealership when you trade it in. It also shows you care about your car.

9. Have your car serviced consistently. Have your regular maintenance performed, but even more important is having the same dealer or reputable mechanic perform your service and repairs every time. When only one shop is performing your repairs, they are able to keep regular tabs on issues that may require attention in the future. When you trade in your car, it proves consistency and attention that reassures the dealership you’ve looked after your car.

10. Keep complete records of service history. Keep all the receipts and records for your vehicle service in a folder that you can bring in to the dealer with you. When you can show that you’ve regularly maintained your vehicle (at the same place every time), the salesperson can be assured that the vehicle they are taking in on trade is in good condition. While there may still be minor issues, they know anything of importance has been addressed or noted.