Get top dollar for your trade-in

Trading in a vehicle at the time of purchase is attractive for a number of reasons, but going in prepared is the best way to maximise your old car’s value.

Why trade in?

To begin, when you trade-in your vehicle, you don’t need to worry about advertising the car to prospective buyers. You don’t need to write an ad, post it in a newspaper or online, or pay for the ad once it is posted.

You don’t have to deal with a host of prospective buyers, fielding inquiries, setting appointments, showing the vehicle or taking test-drives. Advertisement

You also don’t have to worry about the transaction itself. Taking deposits, giving bank details or accepting cheques which could bounce. Delivering proof of sale paperwork to the Transport Authority within the time limit, finalising insurance and finance… Private sale can be a real headache.

Equally, selling a vehicle privately will often-times net you more money for your wheels than trading it in to a dealer. Remember, the dealer will value your car somewhere around 10-20 per cent below what he thinks he can get for it on his lot, so it stands to reason if you sell privately that 10-20 per cent goes into your pocket.

But let’s assume you’ve decided to trade-in. In most cases, all that’s required from you is your signature on the paperwork.

How to maximise your car’s value

If you’re trading-in your old car, don’t get too excited with how much the dealer is prepared to pay for your old car – it’s the changeover price you’re interested in. That is, the final figure you have to pay to get out of the old and into the new.

The first step to realising the lowest possible changeover price is the prepare your trade-in. Prepare your car as you would to sell it, because that’s exactly what you are doing.

Clean your car thoroughly inside and out. Don’t leave rubbish lying around, and wipe down every surface. Give the car a good wash and polish – or better yet, pay a car detailer to do it for you.

A clean car tells the dealer it has been looked after. A dirty car tells the dealer the owner didn’t care for the car, and there may be a myriad of problems lurking just beneath the surface. Which scenario do you think is likely to result in a higher trade-in?

You should also consider making any repairs your car may need before trading it in. This one’s a balancing act, because you need to consider the cost of the repairs against the potential value added to your car.

As a general rule of thumb, do everything necessary to make your car roadworthy. This means good tyres, engine in full working order, all electrics working and no cracks in any glass.

Thirdly, don’t forget to gather all your car’s papers together. Hopefully you’ve kept a service logbook and all receipts for work done, accessories added, and repairs to your vehicle. Everything from tyre rotations and fluid top-ups to engine rebuilds and body panel replacements.

You’re basically looking to demonstrate to the dealer that this vehicle has been a loved member of the family and is in as good condition as can be expected.

And finally, get an independent evaluation of your car’s value. Don’t believe the first price the first dealer gives you because it may not be representative of your vehicle’s market value.