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Trade in Time?

How to increase your vehicle’s resale value

It appears that the supply chain issues we’ve suffered through in the past are beginning to resolve themselves.  This means that many of us that have been holding off on buying a new vehicle (or new to us) are now auto shopping.

The resale value of a vehicle is based on what that vehicle is worth when sold in its current condition. There are quite a number of factors that affect a car’s resale value in a negative way including the car’s age, mileage, cosmetic condition, whether the prior owner was a smoker, number and severity of accidents that have occurred, etc.  Even the vehicle’s color and the number of bumper stickers attached can impact the amount that will be deducted from your traded amount.  But, as you would imagine, nothing affects the value of a vehicle more than neglecting needed mechanical maintenance.

The average trade in usually occurs between 30,000 and 50,000 miles of ownership. That makes sense: since an average driver puts between 10-12,000 miles on their car annually meaning they trade in a vehicle when it’s 3-5 years old. Plus, it’s a fact that the depreciation of a vehicle is accelerated at higher mileage intervals and age.

Everyone wants to get the most out of their vehicle when they go to sell or trade-in.  But there’s more needed than just washing the outside if you expect to get top dollar. First impressions are important in this game. Here is the short list of things to do and check prior to selling or trading in your used vehicle:

  1. Top off all fluids – Check the fluids in your brake and transmission systems. This may help indicate that you’ve kept up on preventative maintenance.
  2. Check all lights - Replace any burnt out or broken bulbs and light covers.
  3. Fix minor blemishes – Touch up small scratches and dents, if possible. It’s cheaper to do this than you probably think it will be!
  4. Clean the inside – We’re talking MORE than just throwing away the empty fast-food bags; we’re talking about REALLY CLEAN!  Spot clean upholstery, wash windows and mirrors, scrub the floor mats and carpet, etc.  Better yet, you might want to get the inside professionally detailed.
  5. Know what you’ve got – Research what vehicles of similar year, make, model and condition are selling for so you’ll have some negotiating power.
  6. Repair mechanical problems – Or should you?...

What if your vehicle has some mechanical issues that are more than minor?  Is it wise to fix them before you trade in or sell your used car?

We asked car guru Trent Pickering of Pickering’s Auto Service what you should do about mechanical problems before a trade in.

“That’s a matter of opinion, and the answer is also dependent on who you plan to market the used car to.  If you’re trading in your used car at the same time you’re going to be buying new at a dealership…and if the dealer has a repair facility… they may prefer to do the major mechanical work themselves. Keeping the money for major repairs “all in the family” is exactly how dealers make big profits from buying and reselling pre-owned vehicles that are not 100% mechanically sound. Doing it this way could certainly be easier for you, but there may be a big price for that convenience.”

“On the other hand, trading in a car that needs mechanical repairs may be a disadvantage to your pocketbook as a dealer may deduct more from your trade in value than the repair would have cost at an independent auto repair facility.”

Pickering goes on to warn, “If you plan to sell your car privately, knowingly selling an unsafe vehicle could cause you liability issues in the long run.  This is something I would NEVER advise!”

One more thing to note: Pickering’s Auto Service in Lakewood and Arvada, Colorado offer customers a pre-purchase vehicle inspection. If you’re purchasing a previously owned vehicle “as-is” this inspection is an easy and cost-effective way to get peace of mind so that you can make a fully informed decision prior to making the purchase. Contact Pickering’s Auto Service for more details or to make an appointment.


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