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10 Ways to Improve Your Trade-In Value


If you’re in the market for a new car, chances are you also plan on trading in your old one. Although you might get a higher price selling your vehicle privately, there are several advantages to trading it in at the dealership. The main reason being that it’s much more convenient. You don’t have to worry about advertising, and you don’t have to set up test-drive meetings with strangers. Also, you’ll never go through the annoying experience of having a buyer back out of a deal at the last-minute. One thing you can worry about, though, is getting a good trade-in value for your car.

Trading in your vehicle can be a daunting process if you’re unprepared. Unfortunately, it’s a sad truth that some (not all) car salesmen aren’t stand-up people. They’ll attempt to make the most profit by offering you much less than what your vehicle is worth. You can’t really blame them for it, it’s just the nature of their job. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do all you can to avoid it. The best way to get yourself the best possible deal on your trade-in is to conduct the proper research. That way, you can walk into the dealership with the facts to help you negotiate the terms of the trade.

In addition to research, there are several other ways you can boost your vehicle’s trade-in value. Below, you’ll find the most essential tips and tricks that’ll help you get the most out of your ride. Read on and discover what you need to do!


First thing’s first, you must know what criteria dealerships consider when determining your vehicle’s worth. Key factors considered are the make and model, year, mileage, condition, and overall desirability of your car.


Typically, the newer a vehicle is, the higher the offer will be. Newer models are usually more attractive to used-car shoppers, so a dealership will pay more for those, anticipating a quick sale. But this isn’t always the case. Vehicles of a year old or less will be competing with the latest of the same models. As well, the manufacturer may be offering special incentives for the newest model. As a result, consumers are likely to opt for the latest model instead of yours. The dealer knows this, and will thus be less likely to offer you the price you want. They don’t want buy a vehicle that’ll sit on the lot for a long time. What they want is to get it off your hands and sell it quickly for a fast profit.

Make & model

The “make” of a vehicle is another refers to its brand, such as Honda, Volkswagen, or Hyundai. If the vehicle’s make is reputable, in high demand, or depreciates slowly, it will have a higher the trade-in value. The same goes for specific models built by manufacturers. Various models built by the same brand will lose or hold value at different rates. The ones that depreciate at the slowest rate will receive a better appraisal.


As the number of kilometers on your odometer goes up, the trade-in value of your vehicle goes down. Even if your car is in pristine condition, a high mileage will make the consumer blink. Accordingly, dealership won’t pay as much for a vehicle with lots of kilometers to its name.


The class of vehicle your car belongs to will impact its trade-in value as well. For example, SUVs are currently in high demand, so dealerships will be eager to take one off your hands. Why? Because they know they have a good chance of selling it quickly and for a good price.


The more popular your car is among consumers, the higher its trade-in value will be. Take the Honda Civic as an example. It’s one of the best-selling cars ever, so it will always be well-considered by dealerships.


Lastly, and probably the most important factor, is the physical condition of your vehicle. Both the exterior and interior appearance need to be in tip-top shape for a tip-top trade-in price. Luckily, though, this is one aspect of your vehicle you can take steps to improve.

Now that you know a bit about what factors affect your car’s trade-in value, you’re ready to learn about what you can do to get a better deal.

Take a moment to appreciate this cow sitting down.

10 Ways to Improve Trade-In Value

#1 Knowledge Is Power, Do Your Research

Before heading to the dealership, go online and find out what your car’s average trade-in price is. That way, when it comes to negotiations with the dealership, you’ll know whether their offer is fair or not. There are several reliable sources online where you can find this information. You can check out sites such as Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and Canadian Black Book. Because each car is different, the trade-in value these sites recommend should only be used as a general guideline.

Go Auto has its own easy and free-to-use trade-in appraisal service as well. Just click here, then specify the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Our experts will get back to you promptly with an appraisal.

A car’s value will vary from place to place, so your next step is to assess your local market. Go to sites like Kijiji and look at what other people are asking for. If the average asking-price is well-above what the dealer is offering, you can use that knowledge as a bargaining chip.

Once you have an idea of the price range your vehicle falls under, take an honest look at your car. Consider its mileage, its overall condition, and what repairs need it needs. Factoring those elements into the equation will give you a better picture of what your vehicle is worth.

Be warned: the price you come down to will likely be a lot smaller than what you anticipated. The fact of the matter is, you’ll never get as much for a vehicle as you originally paid for it. The moment a vehicle is driven off a dealership lot, its value comes down.

#2 Know How the Dealer Thinks

It’s important to understand how the dealer approaches a trade-in transaction. Because at the end of the day, they decide whether to accept your trade-in or not. For the most part, dealerships are eager to take in your used car. Trade-ins are a substantial profit point for dealers, as they will typically earn more from the sale of a used car versus a new one.

A dealership will be quick to point out that they will be responsible for reconditioning the vehicle. But even so, the profit margin on a trade-in sale remains, on average, higher than that of new car sale. So, unless your vehicle is a bucket of rust, the dealer probably wants it just as badly as you want to get rid of it.

Finally, what a dealer cares most about is how fast your car can be expected to sell to another buyer. A lot factors in here. For example, rising gas prices can hurt the sales of the big gas-guzzling trucks. While at the same time, the same situation can improve the value of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

Dealers aren’t saints – they’re there to make money for their business. So, you shouldn’t be surprised that they’re tough negotiators. What you do need to worry about, though, is that you don’t get ripped off. Be wary of the classic car salesmen techniques, like “low-balling”. That happens when the dealer will begin the trade-in negotiation at a price well-below a fair price in attempt to steal your trade and sell it for much higher return. Another tactic used is to bundle the negotiations of a new vehicle purchase with trade-in negotiations – more on that below.

#3 Separate Trade-In and New Car Transactions

If you’re trading in your vehicle, chances are you plan to reinvest the proceeds into the purchase of a new (or new-to-you) car. Should that be the case, be sure to draw a clear line between the trade-in and new car negotiations.

If the trade-in process is mixed with the negotiations of a new-vehicle purchase, the salesperson might try to swindle you into a bad deal. Salespeople will talk about the two transactions as if they’re a package, and you’ll be worse for it. The many variables involved in a new car purchase, such as finance rate, new car price, and down payment amount should be negotiated separately, and shouldn’t affect the price of your trade-in.

Be firm on this.

#4 Explore Your Options at Multiple Dealerships

It won’t increase the value of your car, but testing the waters at multiple dealerships can still pay off. Why? Well, the demand for vehicles varies per location, and the cars present on individual lots can affect your trade-in price.

For example, let’s say you want to trade-in your 2010 Toyota Sienna at a given dealership. But at that dealership, there’s another 2010 Toyota Sienna that’s been sitting on the lot for months. That dealership won’t want to give you top-dollar, since they’ve already been having difficulties moving another car just like yours. Take your Sienna elsewhere, however, and you might find a dealership that has just sold a van like yours. In that case, they’ll likely be more eager to take yours off your hands.

Furthermore, another reason to get offers from multiple dealerships, is that you can use those offers as leverage during negotiations. Also, don’t make the mistake of making the first offer. Let the salesperson make the first move. That way, having done your research, you’ll know if the salesperson is trying to low-ball you right off the bat. If the offer is too low, you can counteroffer with a better price, and support your position all your research.

Good boys keep clean cars.

#5 Pay Attention to Detailing

The simplest way to improve your vehicle’s trade-in value is to give it a thorough cleaning. Cleanliness shows the dealer that you care about the condition of your vehicle. If there are mystery stains on the seats, if your cup holders are sticky, or if there are stale McDonald’s fries lodged in every crevice, the dealer will think you’re a slob whose probably never had his tires rotated.

A thorough cleaning involves everything from vacuuming and wiping down the interior, to giving the exterior a wash and wax. If you don’t feel like doing the work yourself, you can always pay for a professional detailing job. Prices vary, but a good detailing job might cost you around $50. However, if done properly, a good detailing job could increase your car’s trade-in value by a couple hundred dollars.

Bodywork is also an important step to take to improving your trade-in value. Dents, dings, scratches, and other imperfections to your car’s exterior will always bring down its trade-in price. The good news, though, is that they aren’t too expensive to have repaired. Most companies will get the job done for somewhere around the $100 mark. Scratches are more difficult to have fixed, accordingly, it costs more to have them fixed.

Use your best judgment. If you don’t believe you can recoup the cost of repairs with the added trade-in value they provide, it’s best not to get them done. The same goes with maintenance of all kinds, which we’ll talk about more in the next point.

#6 Fix the Small Things

Another way to increase the value of your trade-in is to bring its maintenance up to speed. You know the wonky window and the sticky door handle you’ve learned to live with? Well, the dealers will notice them, and they’ll bring down their offering prices because of them.

We’re not saying you should repair every issue your vehicle has. Just do enough to make your car presentable. The only repairs you should do are the ones whose costs you’ll recoup from the value they add to your trade-in.

Use a small budget. Repair the issues that are most obvious, like a burned-out taillight. Do that, and you’ll be on your way to a better trade-in value.

#7 Make Sure Your Tires Are in Good Shape

If your tires are in rough shape, you might benefit by replacing them with a new, inexpensive set. Dealers bear the cost of replacing tires. For this reason, they’ll be quick to point to worn tires as a reason to lower the trade-in price.

Tires aren’t worth replacing if they’re in decent shape. You should only do it if there is almost no tread left, or if your tires are damaged by curb rash. That’s what happens when your wheels scrape the curb. It’s a low-cost fix that will surely increase your vehicle’s trade-in value.

Anotha one.

#8 Provide Service Documentation

To demonstrate what a good and responsible car-owner you are, provide the dealer with your car’s service documentation. All maintenance – from simple oil changes, to engine repairs and beyond – is important. Service documentation shows the dealer what kind of care your vehicle received during the time you owned it. And, if the dealers like what they see, they’ll pay more for your car. Finally, if your vehicle has never been in an accident, bring the documents to prove it.

If you haven’t kept your maintenance receipts, there’s no need to worry. You can always call the repair shop and get them to send you the paperwork.

#9 Drive Less

This should go without saying, but the more you drive your car, the more it depreciates. A car that has gone over 150,000 km is closer to biting the dust than one that’s gone less than 50,000 km. So, as you can see, distance does make a difference.

Try taking the bus more often, or coordinate carpools with friends and coworkers to cut down on driving time. Your wallet will thank you for it, as will our environment.

#10 Don’t Look Desperate

If dealers think you have your heart set on trading in your vehicle, they’ll be tougher during negotiations. To leave the dealer wondering, leave some personal items in your car when you take it in to be inspected. If your car is completely cleaned out, that lets the dealer know you’re eager to get a deal done.

Just play it cool and make the dealer think you’re still exploring your options. Come negotiation time, the dealer will be more flexible.

Follow these tips and we can almost guarantee you that your vehicle’s trade-in value will improve. Once you’ve done your homework, bring your wheels down to your nearest Go Auto dealer. We’ll be happy to take it off your hands for a price that’ll make you happy.

Why Trade-In with Go Auto

At Go Auto, we will always pay more than our competitors for your trade-in. We have a broad customer base and an extensive dealership network, so we’re confident that we can find a buyer fast. We offer fast and free appraisals, and we’ll buy your vehicle even if you don’t want to buy something new from a Go Auto dealership. Plus, we can get you the cash for your trade-in on the same day. So, there’ll be no need to worry about settling payment with a private buyer.

Visit us online to begin your trade-in process by clicking here.


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