How to Make an Old Car Look New and Increase Your Trade-in Value

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Trade-in Value

Posted: 11 July 2018

It’s time to upgrade to a shiny new car, but you realize that you want to get the best trade-in value for your old one.

One look at that decade-old vehicle and your heart drops. You check the Kelly Blue Book value for older cars and realize there’s no way you’re getting the most you can out of that pile of metal.

The good news is that with proper care and a little know-how and elbow grease, you can easily increase its trade-in value.

If you’ve been wondering how to make an old car look new, read on for our helpful guide on all the tips and tricks to get the most on a trade.

How Car Trade-in Values Work

Going to a car dealership to buy a new car can be both fun and intimidating at the same time.

Trading in your old car for a new one just adds to the intimidation as now you have to find a way to eke the most value you can out of your old beater.

There are a lot of factors that go into determining the trade-in value of your car, including your car’s:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • Add-on features
  • Location
  • Interior condition
  • Exterior condition
  • Driving performance
  • Mileage

You don’t have control over some of these factors. For example, you can’t travel back in time and purchase a different brand or model of car and you can’t magically turn your 2007 BMW Series 3 into a 2017 BMW 5.

Still, some factors are in your control.

Where you choose to trade in your car is up to you. Some dealerships may be willing to give you more money than others, but all of them will try to give you the least amount they can. After all, they’re just a business in the end.

There are still a number of factors that you can have control over.

Whether you’re looking to trade in your car right now or are just planning for a future trade-in, let’s look at some things you can do.

The Things You Should Have Been Doing

Hindsight is 20/20.

Some things you can’t take back, but if you’re trying to take care of your car the best you can right now, here are some things you can keep in mind.

1. Keep Your Car in a Garage or Covered

Natural elements are your car’s worst enemy.

The simplest and best way you can increase the value of a used car is to keep it in a garage or covered with something like a tarp. Everything from sunlight, rain, hail, debris, and beyond will harm the paint job and condition of your vehicle.

2. Drive Wisely and Keep Mileage Down

This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure that you drive your car well. Don’t drive too fast all the time, cut out with the “pedal to the metal,” take wider turns, avoid U-turns when you can, and more.

Also, try to keep your mileage down. Don’t drive your car into the ground by taking it on cross-country road trips all the time. Carpool when you can and give your vehicle a rest now and then.

3. Don’t Smoke In Your Car

This is kind of a big one.

Smoking can leave stains and burn marks easily, but most importantly it leaves a lasting odor that can sometimes never be taken out.

Even if you quit smoking for a while, the smell can remain and dealers will notice that. It greatly reduces the value of your car since it’s an unpleasant smell for some people.

4. Get Regular Maintenance

Whether it’s as simple as just having your oil changed every 3,000 or 5,000 miles or having your tires rotated or aligned, regular maintenance is important.

Chances are that if you look at the manual and included literature that came with your car they will have provided a maintenance schedule.

Try to stick to that as close as you can.

Even if you don’t have to have any work done on the car, at least check the schedule. If your manufacturer says you should check your air conditioning system at around 40,000 miles, then take it in to look at.

At least you have the peace of mind knowing you’re doing the best you can to keep your car updated and in good condition.

How to Make an Old Car Look New Now

Sure, all of the above suggestions are great to follow while you own your car, but maybe you’re looking to trade in as soon as possible.

What actions can you take right now to increase your vehicle’s trade-in value?

1. Clean, Wax, and Polish

Remember: first impressions make all the difference.

Just like how you want to look your absolute best when meeting someone new, the first thing a dealership or car salesperson will notice is the exterior of your car.

They will, of course, look at the inside, test drive it, look for performance issues, and much more, but the first look of your car will set the tone.

You want your beater car looking pristine, so make sure to clean, wax and polish it to a shine.

Don’t use household detergents to clean, and make sure to use good products intended for cars. If you have the budget, consider taking it into a professional for a thorough clean, both inside and out.

2. Make Simple and Easy Fixes

Here’s where you need to draw the line with yourself: if a repair is going to cost more than the value of a used car in the first place, don’t do it!

Some problems aren’t worth fixing, because ultimately you’re trying to get the most value for yourself overall.

Some minor repairs are certainly worth considering, though.

For example, if you’re missing the manufacturer’s emblem on your car, get that replaced. Lots of people care about the make of a car, so having all of the bells and whistles that show that off can be important.

Scratch and dent removal is also a wise choice. You don’t want to spend piles of money doing full body work, but dealers will meticulously look for imperfections. If you can easily remove some small (but glaring) issues, then take care of it.

Getting the Most Trade-in Value For Your Used Car

Whether you’re just trying to take better care of your car in the meantime or you’re wondering how to make an old car look new, hopefully, this guide gave you some ideas.

Proper care of your vehicle is important no matter what you’re doing with it. If you’ve been considering trading it in, then some of the above suggestions could help you increase its value.

Whether you’re trading in or buying, consider taking a look at our tips on winning a new car absolutely free!

Trade-in Value

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