Buying a new car or a second-hand car? Chances are you’re going to want to trade in your old clunker and get some cold hard cash taken off your new model.

This is a great idea, especially if your old car is actually worth ‘something’ to a dealership. So how does one go about prepping a car to impress the team at the dealership? Take a look at

Let’s take a look at 8 tips to make your old car count.

Start with a thorough clean (inside and out)

Whether you bring it to a car cleaning depot, or you get on with the job yourself, cleaning the car should be a big priority. The first thing a car dealer sees is how your car looks – and they’re going to get inside and take a thorough look around.

Make sure you clear out the glovebox of basically everything that doesn’t belong there and check all the seat pockets and nooks and crannies. You want it to be spotless.

As an Indianapolis Ford dealer, we are proud to offer a wide selection of new and pre-owned Ford vehicles, as well as top-notch service and repair for all Ford models.

2. Do an inspection

Doing a once over of your car will help you identify any issues there might be with the car before handing it over to the salesman. This is important to get right because if you say it’s all fine and they discover something not working it can get awkward.

Here are some things to check up on:

  • Refill all fluids
  • Check the electronics – air-conditioning, BlueTooth, indicators, brake lights etc.
  • Check the tyres for wear and tear
  • Ensure the wheels are properly aligned
  • Check for any signs of rust, both within the engine and on the exterior

3. Fix any issues (if you can)

If you find something wrong with your car – it will of course be cheaper if you can fix it with a simple DIY job. Things like peeling floor carpet, rust, or paint issues can actually be easily remedied at home. Just make sure you don’t overspend on fixing the issue – you might find it’s cheaper to just trade it in and save the time.

If it’s a fundamental electrical issue – it’s worth getting that fixed before you show up ready to trade.

4. Give it a wax and polish

Washing your car is great to remove the dust and grime, but you don’t just want your car to be clean, you want it to be sparkling. Step into the shoes of the car dealer – they are subconsciously imagining your trade-in sitting in their car yard – trying to sell it themselves. Making sure it’s nice and shiny will help them make that connection. It’s worth it.

5. Make sure your service history is up to date

A comprehensive and well-organised service history should never be underestimated. In fact, it’s probably one of the first things a car dealer will ask for – sometimes even before seeing the car. They’ll be looking carefully at the number of services and the frequency. Any accidents should be reported – and the work done to fix any damage should also be disclosed.

6. Make a folder for important documents

Having your papers well organised is a big plus. Not only does it save you from fumbling around with loose sheets of paper and receipts, but it also helps the car dealer access key information and will keep them in a good mood. Make sure your service records, registration, insurance and other key documents are all in one place.

7. Get your car valued (outside your target dealership)

Before you rock up ready to trade, it’s good to know how much you ‘could’ and ‘should’ be getting for your trade-in. It’s smart to visit a few dealerships before landing at your target dealership – armed with the knowledge to make a good deal. Before you head off – it’s also good to get a rough valuation online – there are plenty of resources online that can help you gain an idea of your car’s worth.

8. Get rid of that terrible smell

The dealer may have seen the shine and sparkles, but what about once they climb into your musty old car to take a test drive? Did you remember to eradicate the smell of old Doritos and sour cream?

You’d sure hope so.

There’s nothing worse than trying to get rid of a smell – especially if the car’s not yours. Giving the car a new fresh smell will elevate its status and help you gain favour with the dealer.

Buy your new car with confidence.

Selling or trading your old car is a great way to offset the price of a new car – and making the most of what you already have means putting in the hard yards to get your old car up to scratch. With these tips, you can leave that dealership with your hands at the wheel of your new Subaru BRZ.

Drop into your local dealership today and see what that old car’s worth.