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For most car buyers, before buying a new car we have an old one to get rid of. And, if we sell it or trade it in, we want to make sure we get the most we can for it. While there isn’t a clear answer to whether people average a higher value from privately selling their car or doing it as a trade-in at a dealership, there are certain things that will help your car maintain a higher value.
Present it in Optimal Shape
While this fact may seem like common knowledge, it can definitely make an impact and many owners wait until they are ready to sell or trade to take care of their car.
Even before you consider trading your car, you should keep your vehicle in good shape. Regular washings, interior details and good maintenance (with records) helps keep the value of your car higher than if you wait until the last minute to spruce it up.
Before you show it off, give the interior a good cleaning. Though it wouldn’t hurt, this doesn’t mean you need to get it detailed. Remove all of the junk, vacuum it and wipe down the surfaces. If your upholstery has stains, try to clean them out with carpet cleaner.
When it comes to the exterior, dents that are over the size of a quarter and paint chipping will lead to lower values in the car, but you don’t necessarily need to get them fixed. Dealerships have the ability to repair them inexpensively, and if you are privately selling it, buyers may offer you less money, but that could be less than the cost for you to fix it. If you want to get the dents fixed, try negotiating with the dent repair company.
Don’t forget about the engine compartment. If this area looks clean and well maintained, it will appear the same for the person who is looking to purchase your car or evaluate it as a trade. There are several choices for engine cleaners available at your local auto parts store or large retailer. Be careful to read the directions, there are certain parts of your engine you do not want to flood with water.
Also, be sure your tires are in good shape and inflated properly. This can be one of the first things someone looks at to judge the overall appearance. It can also be a key indicator as to how well the rest of the car was maintained.
Bottom line is that you should always take good care of you car because you will always get to a point where you will need to sell or trade it. It’s much easier to keep something up with some basic maintenance then it is to try to play catch-up and do it all at the end. Heck, if you end up spending just a little at the end to bring your car up to par, you might have enough to take care of those shopping carts dings!