How To Make Sure Your Car Is Trade-In Ready

Giving serious thought to trading in your car for a new set of wheels? No doubt you want top-dollar on the deal, and our leading Wisconsin used car dealer has some tips on how to come out a winner

The Cleaner The Better

Cleaning your car thoroughly inside and out is the best way to make an awesome first impression. Wash the exterior, including the undercarriage, and give the vehicle a fresh coat of wax. On the inside, make sure you remove all of your belongings before vacuuming every inch. Of course, there are some nooks and crannies that might prove impossible to access – and for these we recommend having your automobile professionally detailed. A detailer can spiff-up your car’s interior, exterior, or both, and have it looking so sharp that you’ll be reminiscing about the day you drove it home from the dealership. A car dealer might tell you not to put too much emphasis on your trade-in’s cleanliness, but our advice is to go the extra mile and increase your chances of a better offer from the dealership.


Get Your Papers In Order

Dealers like it when trade-in customers have all of their paperwork on-hand. The title is of course a must-have, as is the registration and the owner’s manual, but it’s also a big plus if you’ve kept the car’s service records. This gives the dealership peace of mind, because a car that’s been regularly maintained retains more of its value than one whose owner has neglected to keep up with scheduled maintenance. The one document you don’t need to bring is a vehicle history report (i.e. CARFAX), since the dealer will produce one independently.


Self-Inspect and Remedy Accordingly

A couple of weeks before you trade your car in, conduct a thorough inspection of the exterior and make a note of any dings, dents, and chips. Next, hop inside the car and confirm that everything works as it should: radio, lights, wipers, signals, etc. Last but not least, take your car for a test drive and list any issues that crop up: alignment, brakes, steering, you name it. Smaller issues can be addressed prior to trade-in: for example, replacing an interior dome light or topping off the car’s fluids. Larger issues should be left for the dealer to remedy, but they’ll certainly appreciate that you’ve taken the time to self-evaluate the car before trading it in.


Appraise Your Car Online

There are plenty of online resources for car appraisal: Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds,, and more. After completing your self-inspection, visit your preferred appraisal site and enter as much information as you can about your trade-in’s condition. The more info you provide, the more accurate the appraisal value, and the better prepared you’ll be when it’s time to negotiate a trade-in price with the dealer.


Car Questions? We Have Answers

Drive Auto is more than just a respected destination for Madison used cars. We’re also a trusted resource for answers to any car-related questions, including those related to a trade-in. Contact us today and our experienced team will be happy to help you navigate the road to a top-dollar trade.