Car Selling Tips

How to Maximize Your Car’s Resale and Trade-In Value

It might sound odd or counterintuitive, but the best time to think about your car’s resale or trade-in value is when you’re shopping for it. If you’re planning to drive a vehicle for a few years, and then sell it or trade it in, you’ll want to plan ahead by thinking about what consumers will want in four or five years when you’re ready to sell.

Take into account features like the infotainment system, the size of the touchscreen, how many USB ports are available, etc. Also keep in mind creature comforts like heated seats, a heated steering wheel, power seats, and other nice-to-have amenities that will set your vehicle apart from others in a few years when you’re ready to sell.

Finally, when choosing a colour, try to stay away from anything that falls into the love-it-or-hate-it category. In other words, if it’s a colour that sticks out and is really popular today, but doesn’t appeal to a broader audience, it may fall out of fashion in a few years, making your vehicle harder to sell. Very few people will be shopping for a hot pink SUV, unless hot pink is the “it” colour five years from now… but don’t bet on it.

Maintenance & Care

Vehicles that are well cared for and that have been well maintained keep their value better than those that aren’t. So while you own your vehicle, you’ll want to make sure you change the oil on time, and that you attend to any other maintenance items the manufacturer suggests. This includes bringing the vehicle in for any recalls that might be brought to your attention.

In addition, you’ll want to keep all your maintenance and service receipts so that you can prove to a buyer that you did indeed take good care of your vehicle. Don’t expect them to take your word for it.

Last-Minute Prep

Once you’re ready to sell or trade-in your vehicle, you’ll want to make it as appealing to the buyer as possible. At a minimum, you’ll want to wash it thoroughly and vacuum the inside.

Ideally, you’ll want to wash the carpets and upholstery (rent a carpet-cleaning machine from your local grocery store and use the hand-held attachments to clean the seats and carpets), clean all the windows (on the inside too), remove finger smudges from all touchscreens, remove coffee stains and crumbs from the centre console, and dust the dashboard.

Your goal should be to make your car look as brand-new as possible. Cleaning the upholstery and carpets will also make the interior smell clean and inviting.

Next, take a look at your rims and tires. If they’re worn out or damaged, that will bring down the value of your vehicle. The buyer will be thinking, “The first thing I’m going to have to do is replace those tires, and that’s going to cost me over a thousand dollars.”

Some buyers might also take issue with your choice of tires. Your tires could be new, or new-ish, but if they’re made by a value brand the buyer isn’t familiar with, rather than one of the better-known tire brands everyone has heard of, that could bring down the value of the vehicle, because the buyer might want to replace those tires as soon as possible.

Third-Party Confirmation

A major concern for any potential buyer is the answer to the question: “Was this vehicle ever in an accident?” Here again, don’t expect the buyer to take your word for it. Instead, consider purchasing a Carfax report for your vehicle, which will prove to the buyer that your vehicle was never involved in an accident (at least not an accident that was reported).

While it’s true that the buyer can purchase their own report, if you have a copy handy when they’re looking at your car, they’ll have one less reason to say, “Let me think about it.”