Some things you can do to get the most out of your trade-in include:
Clean the interior and exterior: The cleaner your car, the better of an impression it can make at the dealership. Vacuum the entire cabin of the car and make sure that all your personal belongings have been removed. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even pay for car detailing. For the exterior, you can get a car wash that comes with more bells and whistles than a basic wash, or you can hand-wash the exterior and add a new layer of wax.
Tend to any small fixes: Check all your car’s fluids like wiper fluid, oil, and coolant to make sure they’re topped off. Check all exterior lights (running lights, brake lights, headlights) and check all interior lights. Bulbs are relatively inexpensive, and you can simply YouTube a video on how to replace a burnt bulb if you come across one. Large fixes you can leave for the dealership, but bigger fixes will usually lower your trade-in value.
Collect your documents: Important documents like your car title, registration, service records, and more should be collected before you arrive at the dealership. Showing proof of consistent maintenance can help you retain more value in your trade-in.
Collect accessories: If your car has DVD players or extra keys, bring them to the dealership. If you don’t, this can lower your trade-in value.
Do an inspection: Take your car on a drive and listen for anything that doesn’t sound right. Look for any scratches or dents on the exterior and make a note of them.
Get an estimate on your car: Once your inspection is finished, use that information to get an idea of what prices your car could go for at the dealership.
Look for multiple offers: Used-car prices are rising, and other dealerships will give you offers even if you aren’t trading in with them. If you receive multiple offers on paper, you can use the highest one as a bargaining method when you go in for your trade-in.