Trading In Your Car or Truck
Taking the proper steps to ready your vehicle for trade in can make you thousands of dollars. Put your vehicles best tire forward by doing the following things before driving into a dealer parking lot.
Replace Your Tires
If your tires are bald or low, replace them. If a dealer knows they will have to replace tires, they will deduct that from the price they offer you. A set of tires can easily cost anywhere from 400 dollars to 900 dollars.
Of course, it goes without saying that new tires cost a fortune. It seems counter productive to buy new tires on a vehicle you are going to sell. Well, don’t. Buy used tires for about a quarter of the cost of new tires. The dealer will not know they are used and you can save a fortune.
Check Your Fluids
Low fluid levels raise a red flag so make sure that you check your fluids and make sure they are all up to level. This includes your power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant and engine oil.
While you are at it, check the quality of your fluid. It may be time to change your engine oil if it is very dirty and dark or burnt smelling transmission fluid could indicate a transmission with issues. Transmission rebuilds can cost 2000 dollars or even more. Change fluids if needed.
Clear Check Engine Lights
If your check engine light is on, that is a huge red flag. Take your car to an auto parts store and run the check engine code. It could be something simple and easy to fix or it could be a code that just needs to be cleared.
If you go to the dealer with a check engine light on, they will lead you to believe that something serious is wrong and use it as a tool to drive down your price.
Wash Your Car
Just running your vehicle through the automatic car wash will not do. It needs a good hand wash to remove every drop of soil. If possible, do it yourself and be sure to get everywhere. Don’t forget the door jambs and under the trunk lid. Your cars paint should look showroom clean.
Once you are done with the basic car wash, you need to take it to the extreme. A wax is good but first you should deep clean the paint. Purchase a clay cleaner such as “clay magic”. It makes it easy to clean the paint by simply spraying a solution on the paint and then rubbing the clay over it. It might sound silly but it works wonders at lifting out deep down contaminants and soil.
Finish it off with a good wax job to make that car shine. Be sure to wax it in the shade and avoid getting wax on plastic trim as it can sometimes temporarily discolor it.
Cars with good paint jobs will sell faster and the dealer is far more likely to give you more money for a vehicle they can sell faster.
Apply Touch Up Paint
If you have some minor chips, a bit of touch up paint can do wonders. Most touch up paint is around ten dollars and will help disguise those little imperfections.
Dealership used car managers know how to spot every imperfection in your vehicle but they are not perfect. Make the chips and little dings harder to see and they might just miss a few of them.
Shine Your Wheels
With all of this effort spent cleaning your exterior, don’t forget about those wheels. Most wheels will take a little work to get perfect which means hand cleaning.
Make sure that you get some rags or soft brushes and get into every space of your wheel. When you are done, hand apply some armor all or silicon protectant on the tires.
Clean Yellow Headlights
The headlights on older cars tend to scratch and get yellow over time. This is simply oxidation and is easily fixed with an inexpensive kit. A dealer won’t do this, they will just figure that the lights are shot and deduct the cost of brand new ones from their offer.
Instead, take the time to clean your headlights with a kit from Turtle Wax or a similar company. It will cost you about $6 and thirty minutes of your time.
Detail Your Interior
Start with a good vacuuming but that is not enough. You also need to clean and apply some protectant to the dash and vinyl or plastic trim.
Next, take some time to clean the carpet and upholstery. If you have leather or vinyl seats, choose a good leather cleaner. If you have cloth seats, an aerosol foam cleaner will do wonders. You can use this same cleaner to clean the carpet.
Finally, if you smoke, stop smoking in your car now. Few things will hurt the value of your car than a smoke smell. Try an ozone spray like Ozium sprayed in the vents to get rid of the odor.
Preparing Yourself For The Trade
Once you have prepared your car for the trade in, you need to prepare yourself. If you desperately need top dollar for your vehicle, you need to be prepared to play the dealer game.
The first thing that you must do is check the value of your trade in. Be honest about the condition and look at places like Kelly Blue Book and NADA. Also, check dealer lots to see what they are asking for used vehicles similar to yours. Take about 20 percent off retail and that is about what you can expect for your vehicle.
Next, prepare yourself to haggle. The value of your trade is just one factor that you will be negotiating on a new car purchase. If your dealer is prepared to give you 10000 dollars for your trade, expect them to offer you 8000 dollars. They are hoping you will bite on the lower price but they also want to leave room for negotiation.