How to obtain the best possible value for your trade in.

July 2, 2019

Get the highest or best price possible for your trade in vehicle.

Used car dealers look for cars that are lot ready. This means that they are ready to sell. Clean and well presented.

The things a new or used car dealer will look for are:

Regular service and maintenance.

Logbooks. Stamped at regular intervals.

Up to date and in line with manufactures specifications.

2 keys.

This is often overlooked.

Keys cost a lot to replace so ensure that you have 2 keys.

A clean tidy well presented car will get you better money than a dirty smelly car every time.

First impressions do count.


Maintenance of a car is expected.

A complete service history does add value, but lack of service history will devalue your trade far more significantly.

Buyers expect that you maintained your vehicle to manufacturer’s guidelines.


Very few trade-ins are in excellent condition.

Even good condition is not the norm.

Most customers rate their own cars either good or excellent.

What is good condition?

Have a look at the cars displayed in a dealership:

  • Clean, shiny, recently polished paint.
  • No dents or major scratches.
  • No interior odours.
  • Carpets and seats are clean with no stains.
  • No rips or tears in the cloth/leather.
  • Tires are new or have significant tread life left (more than 50%).
  • Service history is up to date and there are no mechanical issues.

Can you answer yes to all of the above?

If not, then your car is probably in “fair” condition.

Getting perspective.

Walk around your trade-in vehicle and pretend you are about to buy it for the first time.

Ask yourself what flaws you see and what would you want the dealer to fix before they were to sell it to you.

If you can realistically look at your trade-in this way, you’ll be better prepared at negotiation time.

Is your car a popular brand or model, will the car sell quickly?

Fuel economy can often be topical in the press. If there is a news cycle relating to fuel economy, use it to your advantage, if you have an economical car, sell into the demand or interest that is created around economical vehicles.

If your car is a gas guzzler wait until the news cycle moves on before trying to sell your car.

A clean car speaks volumes for how you have cared for your vehicle.

Most car valuers and appraisers view clean cars as generally the ones that have been well maintained mechanically.

Have your service records and logbook readily available.

Nothing makes your car’s next owner happier than a maintenance manual with all the service records stamped and dated.

A good service history is important to maximising your car’s resale or trade value.