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  • Writer's pictureJonnie Hendrickson

6 Tips to Increase Your Trade-In Value

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

So, you’ve finally decided to upgrade to a newer vehicle. Congratulations! But wait…the trade-in value of your current ride isn't going to cover the down payment for your new one like you had hoped. What a nightmare right?! It doesn't have to be. Here are 6 Insider Tips you can use to increase your vehicle's value at trade-in-time.

smiling woman handing over keys to a new car at dealership

1. First impressions are crucial.

After all, you will never get a second chance to make a good one. Before you bring your vehicle into the dealership, take the time to make sure it is spotless, inside and out. Good aesthetics should not be overlooked. If you just don’t have the time, consider getting it detailed professionally – I may know a great place in Winnipeg.

For a minimal cost your vehicle can look brand new again! Just how important is that first look? A 2006 study on first impressions by Willis and Todorov found that judgements about initial appearance were made in as little as 1/10th of a second. When given unlimited time to study the same image, those snap judgements remained almost entirely unchanged. In fact, the more time they were given, the more confident people grew in their original determination. While the dealership may not actually spend a ton of time deep diving between your seats and upholstery, their first, most broad look may leave a lasting impression on their offer! Everyone’s car has a vibe – what will yours be?!

2. Maintenance is key.

While the dealer’s glance at the cleanliness of your car may be cursory (but so important - did you read the first point?!) their look into the mechanical workings and body of your vehicle will be much more intense. Minor repairs they pick up on will be used as bargaining chips to lower their offer, subtracting from your bottom-line trade-in value. Properly allocated maintenance dollars invested before-hand on minor repairs and improvements can give you up to a 3-fold return for every dollar spent when it comes to your trade-in value.

3. Address your oil and tires.

Pulling the dipstick and kicking the tires are a fundamental part of the inspection by the used car manager. A fresh oil change and replacing worn out tires will significantly increase the value of your vehicle. Here’s a quick way to assess your tires. Hold a Canadian quarter between your thumb and forefinger with the caribou facing down. Select a spot where the tread appears lowest and insert the caribou “nose first” into one of the grooves. If the tip of his nose is visible to you, your tread depth no longer meets 6/32” and your tire will not perform properly in adverse conditions, and it certainly won’t help the value of your trade. Whoever said 25 cents couldn’t make a difference!

4. Know before you go.

Information about the value of your car is readily available online. A site like Canadian Black Book will help you find the relative value of the make and model of your car, inclusive of its year and mileage. One specific metric to pay attention to is your car’s mileage compared to its age. Canadian statistics tell us that average annual mileage is between 18,000-22,000km, so if you are well below that yearly average, even an older vehicle will have more value. Knowing this will help keep you from being “low-balled” in your negotiations. Knowledge is power!

5. Provide a paper trail.

We advise that you bring all your maintenance records with you. Avoiding accidents is an obvious benefit, a clean car fax report with no damages and or repair claims goes a long way in assuring the dealership and their potential buyers. But don’t stop there. Be sure to provide them with any service records showing regular oil changes and milestone checkups. To make it easier on yourself, pick one qualified shop for servicing – it will save you time and energy tracking down reports! We are warranty approved for oil changes, so we are happy to provide this documentation for all of our customers free of charge.

6. Safety first.

I mean this literally. Have your car safetied prior to bringing it to the dealership for their inspection. Knowing you have done your part up front will leave you feeling good about your trade, which is a great way to start any transaction. A regulated safety inspection will fill in the blanks and provide you with more confidence in your negotiations. This will also make the used car manager’s life easier because he or she can put it on the sale lot with little delay.

You loved this car and the two of you have shared great memories together. With these tips in mind you can both win - your car gets a wonderful new home and you receive maximum compensation to put towards your new ride!

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