How to Prepare and Sell or Trade in Your Vehicle to a Dealership


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If your vehicle isn’t running quite like it used to, or you’re just ready to upgrade to something new and shiny, you should consider trading in! With inventory becoming scarce at the moment, and used car values hitting record highs, dealers are currently offering top dollar for trade-ins. The trade-in process is generally much simpler than a private sale, and putting the value toward a new vehicle can lower your monthly payments.

Whether you’re trading in your vehicle for a new new car or a new-to-you car, or just selling an extra vehicle for the cash, attention to detail is very important all around. You want to get a fair price for your old car, so it’s up to you to have your vehicle prepped and presentable before rolling into a dealership. That will be your first step on this journey. 


So, let’s break this down a little more. How do I prepare my vehicle for trade-in to ensure I get the best possible deal? And how do I go about building value in my vehicle? We have all your answers right here, so let’s begin this new adventure together!


Like we said above, the very first step on your trade-in/selling journey will be preparing your vehicle to ensure you have the best possible experience. Here’s a list that you should check off before heading into the dealership:

1. A thorough cleaning, inside and out

For the exterior, give the car a thorough wash and a wax. On the inside, you’ll want to remove all personal items and vacuum the entire cabin, cracks and crevices, under floor mats, etc. If you don’t want to get into this yourself, you can hire a detailer to do it for you. Dealers have said that they can see through dirt to find a car’s true value, but, naturally, a clean and polished vehicle will certainly heighten your chances of getting the top value!


2. Fix minor issues yourself

You should check smaller things like the car’s lights, including interior dome lights, and replace them if needed. Another minor thing you can check is your vehicle’s fluid levels. Take a look at your washer fluid, brake fluid, coolant, etc., and top them up as needed. If your vehicle has more major issues, the trade-in value will be lower, but the dealership will be able to make the required repairs for less than it would cost you to handle on your own.


 3.  Gather all important documents

Make sure to prepare the car’s service records, registration and anything else a prospective buyer may want to see. Vehicles that have been loyal to regularly scheduled maintenance retain more of their value. You do not need to track down a vehicle history report, however. The dealership will do this themselves.

4. Bring all extras and spares

Be sure to bring all spare keys, and/or other extra accessories of the vehicle. If the navigation system has a DVD or an SD card associated with it, you’ll want to bring those in as well. Dealers say that if a vehicle is missing accessories, you won’t receive full credit for your trade-in.


5. Conduct your own inspection

Take a walk around your car and notice any dents or dings that can’t be buffed out with your own elbow grease. Take it out for your own test drive and really try to feel and note anything that doesn’t feel or seem right. If you discover any issues, whether something electrical or simply a need for a tire change, be sure to make note of these.


6. Determine your car’s estimated value

Now that you’ve made note of any of the vehicle’s blemishes, you can use this overview to establish a more accurate estimate of what you will get from the dealership. The Kelley Blue Book can provide a trade-in value estimate based on your vehicle’s age, mileage and condition so you can have a good starting ground for negotiations with the dealership’s buyer.

How it works at ReCar:

You’ll tell us about your car by scanning or typing in your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), answering a few simple questions and sharing some photos of your vehicle. We’ll then contact you (with no additional fees) within 3 business hours with a firm offer. 

Once you’ve accepted our offer, we will contact you about scheduling an appointment to confirm the vehicle’s condition and transfer title. When this is complete, you can wave goodbye to your used vehicle and go cash your cheque!

If you would like to sell your pre-loved car to us at ReCar, you can submit your information right here on our website and we will be in contact ASAP!

And if you’d like to check out the variety of our pre-loved inventory, you can do so right here!

We hope this information eases your mind and gets you excited for the next step of your used vehicle journey! If you have any further questions, comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our wonderful online chat team that is available to you 24/7 right here on our website! Or, you can scroll to the bottom of our page where you can find the phone number to your nearest ReCar dealership!