Getting The Most For Your Trade-in

 Thad: Hi I’m Thad.

 Todd: I’m Todd. 

Thad: And we’re the Watters Boys. 

Todd: So you want to get the most you can for your trade-in? 

Thad: Thanks but that’s okay, I already own a dealership. 

Todd: Not you – I was addressing our readers. 

Thad: Which is also just me. 

Todd: I think mom finally started reading it. 

Thad: She wants to make sure we don’t sound stupid. 

Todd: Too late, Mom!  

Thad: When people ask us how they can maximize their car’s trade-in value, we tell ’em it’s all about common sense. 

Todd: Car dealers are people, too. 

Thad: Insert joke here. 

Todd: And so we are moved by first impressions, just like anyone. 

Thad: Most dealers don’t have time to go over your trade-in with a fine tooth comb. 

Todd: What they are really focused on is getting you into your new vehicle. 

Thad: And so our best advice is to think like a seller, because you are. 

Todd: You are “selling” us your car and we are selling you ours. 

Thad: Make sure you put your best foot forward. 

1. First and foremost, wash your car, inside and out 

A clean trade-in is worth more

Thad: You’d be shocked at how many people bring us a dirty vehicle. 

Todd: You’d be even more shocked at how dirty Thad’s car is. 

Thad: Which is why I park in the back. 

Todd: We react the same way to a dirty, smelly car the same way you would. 

Thad: It suggests that the owner has neglected it. 

Todd: And that’s going to almost certainly reduce the amount we’re willing to pay for it. 

Thad: So our advice – take it through the car wash, remove all the debris from the inside, vacuum all the surfaces, shampoo the carpet and floor mats and Windex the windows, inside and out. 

Todd: Also remove contents from glove compartment and trunk and, if possible, shampoo the trunk area. 

Thad: You may even want to consider detailing the vehicle. 

Todd: It’s an expense, but it can really pay off at trade-in time. 

Thad: Remember, that first impression is the most important! 

2. Have a maintenence record to give to the dealer. 

Keep good service records

Thad: Whether you’ve kept one for the life of your car or if you have to write one out from memory, this will show that you’ve been a thoughtful owner and will likely increase the value of your vehicle’s trade-in. 

Todd: The record doesn’t have to include every oil change or tune-up (although this should be included if possible) but it should have a list of any major work done on the vehicle, including engine and body work. 

Thad: It’s also a good idea to do small maintenance before you take it to the dealership. 

Todd: Replace wiper blades, top off fluids, get a tune-up – the dealer will notice these things and they will have a positive impact. 

3. Be honest about the car’s issues. 

Honesty will pay off

Todd: Vehicles get driven and used. 

Thad: Unless you’re my great great aunt whose AMC Gremlin hasn’t left the garage since 1992. 

Todd: Didn’t we sneak it out when we were 13 to see how fast it would go? 

Thad: Shhh! You want to get us busted? 

Todd: Hey, you drove – I just sat in the back and hid my eyes. 

Thad: If the car has a light out, or scratches, or a dent, or a hole in the seat, tell the dealer. 

Todd: He’s going to find out anyway – remember, we’ve seen literally thousands of vehicles brought in for trade-in over the years. 

Thad: Yep – if it’s there we’ll probably find it. 

Todd: Which is nothing to feel guilty about – like we said, cars get driven, that’s what we’re supposed to do. 

Thad: Auntie notwithstanding. 

Todd: Being honest about your vehicle’s blemishes will create a level of trust with the dealer. 

Thad: As will bringing in a clean, well-maintained car with good records. 

Todd: Follow these steps and you’ll be a happy seller… 

Thad: …and a happy buyer, come trade-in time! 


Todd and Thad Watters own and manage Watters Autoland in Indianola, Iowa. To find out more, visit them at: 


Next time: Why kicking the tire is a good thing  


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Filed under Car shopping, Trade-in value, Uncategorized

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