Shopping for a car is an exciting time. With so much to consider, the process is enough to make an auto enthusiast giddy with glee.

But there’s one piece of the puzzle few people enjoy: trading their old vehicle in. No matter what happens, you’ll always sell it for well under what you paid and feel a tinge of guilt for having to let your prized ride go.

You can, at least, minimise the loss by understanding what affects a vehicle’s trade-in value. Keep the following 5 factors in mind to snag the best deal on your old set of wheels.

Options and Modifications

Although that blazing twin turbocharger seemed like a good idea at the time, it’s not the best investment in terms of value retention. Aside from being costly and undesirable, performance-based modifications give the impression the former owner had a lead foot, and the engine will be in poor shape (which, if we’re honest, is usually spot-on).

What the majority of the market wants are the mod-cons that will make their lives’ easier, cheaper, and safer. Power windows, ABS, automatic transmission, central locking, and cruise control are all widely sought-after features. Flashy 22 inch rims, aftermarket turbos, and bucket racing seats, on the other hand, are not.

Mileage and Maintenance

Any car with over 150,000 km on the clock is going to fetch less at trade-in, regardless of its condition. Driving less obviously isn’t a viable option, so the best thing you can do to offset the issue is being meticulous in getting your maintenance done. At the very least, be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s recommendations and keep the relevant records to prove it.

Also, keep a close eye on your warning lights because continuing to drive a damaged motor is bound to exacerbate the issue.

The Exterior Condition

First impressions matter and a dented old rust bucket is hardly going to fetch a fair rate when it comes time for trade-in, regardless of its interior and mechanical condition.

Consequently, the exterior aesthetics of a car are of utmost importance so you must endeavour to keep your ride in good nick. Opt for undercover parking wherever possible and take extra care not to scratch the paint job when pulling into those ultra-tight car parks.

In some situations, especially when trading in a luxury or vintage car, it’s worth taking your vehicle to a reputable local panel beater to repair any visible dents or dings. If you’re searching for paintless dent removal in Melbourne, then get in touch with the pros at Brighton Panel Works today.

Another critical aspect of the exterior is the paint job. When shopping for a car or getting a fresh new lick of paint, remember that your personal taste won’t necessarily align with market demand. Although you may think your flashy new WRX looks fabulous in chrome pink, most buyers will not.

The Interior Condition

The average Australian commuter spends over an hour a day in their vehicle, so it stands to reason they’d want the interior to look schmick. Much like the exterior, any visible damage or imperfections will affect the trade-in value tremendously.

It’s almost always worthwhile getting a professional auto detailing job done right before trading your car in because the modest initial investment will pay sizable dividends. If you’re strapped for cash or your car simply isn’t worth much, at least make an effort to give the inside a thorough clean yourself.

Over time, take care not to damage any of the upholstery through things like cigarette burns and food stains. Pungent odours will decimate trade-in value so think twice about driving your pet around if they’re prone to go potty on the seats.

Supply and Demand

It’s important to understand that market conditions play a pivotal role in determining your car’s trade-in value. Some makes retain their value better than others, particularly the long-lasting brands such as Subaru, Hyundai, and Toyota. Some models are also more popular in certain areas for practical and lifestyle reasons.

Maximising your car’s trade-in value is a long term commitment that begins the day you purchase your new ride. By keeping the above five factors in mind, you’ll be able to score the best possible deal come trade-in time.