The part of the car-buying process that seems to deflate most buyers is having their own vehicle appraised to find out how much money they can get if they trade it in for their new vehicle. In many cases, we’ll do whatever we can to help make this experience as painless as possible, but here’s a few tips from our Used Vehicle manager, Leo Hipkiss, on how to get the most money back for your trade-in vehicle.
What are the top 5 things that decrease the value of my trade-in?
In a perfect world, we’d love to be able to give you the exact Canadian Black Book value of your vehicle toward your new purchase, but those numbers are based on the state of the exact vehicle as you’ve brought it in – we want to help you build value in your vehicle because then it can be carried through . These are the top 5 things that lower the value of your trade-in:
1. A CarProof or vehicle history report that shows accidents, hail damage claims, or that the vehicle has been stolen.
Many of our customers want to know if the vehicle we’re selling them has been in any accidents, or if anything else out of the ordinary will show up in a history report. Are there insurance claims that have been put through on the vehicle?So the car might have had new door panels or a bumper replaced and heck, it might look better than it did the day it left the factory, but to another customer shopping for their own new-to-them vehicle, this is a red flag that this vehicle might not have been cared for as well as their Grandma’s old Buick LeSabre that lived most of its life in her garage.
2. The paint on the car has seen better days (or worse yet, rust).
If the paint on your vehicle isn’t the same color on all parts of the car, or is covered in deep scratches, we will have to have the vehicle re-painted before we can sell it to someone else. Unfortunately, this isn’t a cheap job; almost every panel of the car has to be removed and painted separately, and while our technicians are paint masters, it takes a great deal of time and supplies to make sure that everything looks perfect (especially when we’re matching older colours that the manufacturer might not carry anymore).
3. The tires are worn out.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory – if the tires haven’t been replaced within a reasonable amount of time and show their wear, it is another item we’ll have to pay to replace for you before we can re-sell it to another customer.
4. The vehicle isn’t clean.
Consider the appraisal to be a job interview, but for your car. Would you go into a job interview at a business where everyone else wears a freshly-pressed suit and shiny shoes wearing a wrinkled t-shirt, dirty jeans and muddy sneakers (or unshowered and smelling like smoke) and expect to be hired? Before we get a chance to do a mechanical inspection, appearances are everything with trade-in vehicles, and if it doesn’t look like you’ve put much effort into keeping your vehicle clean (or worse, that someone’s been smoking in the vehicle), then it might appear that we’ll have to put in time and money to get the vehicle cleaned up to the point that it’s ready for someone else.
5. The windshield has chips, cracks or any other imperfections.
Just like the tires, we’ll have to pay to replace a windshield before we can re-sell it to another customer, which will decrease the amount of money we can give you for your vehicle.
What can I do to help improve the value of my vehicle?
Firstly, make sure you’re not doing any of the things we listed above, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily go out and buy all new everything for your vehicle immediately before you trade it in. Generally, we are able to pay less than the retail price to replace tires or windshields and do any body work that needs to happen to your vehicle.
However, there is always something to be said about preventative maintenance and general upkeep of your vehicle – if you’re replacing your tires on a regular basis yourself, they won’t have as much wear and tear that might require replacement, and if you get a small chip in your windshield, have it fixed before it spreads out like a spiderweb across the entire sheet of glass.
Lastly, always remember that you’re selling the car to us – sell it as best you can! You’ve got an extra set of tires for it? Tell us! You paid to have the stereo system upgraded, or had undercoating or paint protection added to the vehicle when you bought it? Mark that down too! Look at some of the best ads you’ve seen for specific vehicles – they show the buyer everything that’s awesome about the car so that you want to come see it, and then make sure that it looks spectacular when they show it off. The best thing you can do is make sure your vehicle has had a good clean and polish before you bring it in, and that you’ve been doing what you can to take care of it.
Is it better for me to trade in my vehicle instead of selling it privately?
We’re realists – you will always get a little more money selling your car privately than you will by trading it in.
But it’s also going to entail the time, effort and costs of getting things fixed, cleaned up, taking pictures of it, listing it online, answering responses from people with varying levels of commitment to buy, showing the car, and potentially having to encounter some unsavoury individuals (and for your own safety, please don’t invite anyone from the internet to your home – meet them in a public space), and sort out payment and any documentation so that the new owner can register it. It’s a lot, hey?
It’s a big commitment and it isn’t for everyone. We may pay slightly less than a private buyer, but we also provide a GST credit and are able to do all the work of reconditioning and marketing the vehicle so you don’t have to, and with no risk of encountering any potential scams or theft. Don’t get us wrong – we have plenty of respect for people who sell privately, and there are more nice people out there than risky ones – we’re just here to help and provide an option for everyone!