Should I Detail My Car Before Trading It In At The Dealership?

Should I Detail My Car Before Trading It In At The Dealership?

Car detailing is one of the most sought-after auto services. Before you trade in your car at the dealership, it must look presentable to fetch a good price. 

Detailing a car will involve deep cleaning your car and giving it a better look. The better it looks, the better for you and the offer you will receive. Dealers will thoroughly inspect your car to see if there is anything suspicious that could deter potential buyers. 

Be forthcoming with information about why you are trading it in, in the first place. A dealer would want to know what they are getting into and the repairs the car might need to make a resale. 

Keep an open mind as your dealer or potential customer may request for a test drive to ascertain the car’s condition. 

What is car detailing?

Car detailing is a comprehensive up keeping procedure that’s meant to make your car look as good as new. Car detailing differs from car cleaning in the sense that detailing a car entails deep cleaning of every section of the car. 

The purpose of cleaning your car is to remove debris, while car detailing involves intensive cleaning to elongate the lifespan of your car’s components. 

Car detailing involves deep cleaning of two areas of your car:

  • The interior
  • The exterior

When cleaning your car’s interior, you will focus on vacuuming the interior like the seats, the shelf, and the trunk. For the carpets and mats in your car, you can use a brush to scrub until they are clean. Glass areas will require a glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol to make the glasses and windows spotless. 

Consider cleaning leather materials with sponges that are leather-specific. After you are done, re-vacuum the interior to ensure everything is clean. The last step can include spraying a light perfume for a fresh smell. 

As for the exterior, professional detailers carry out the process by hand and scrub everything using special products. After washing and drying, the detailer use special clay to remove any residue of the cleaning detergents.

The next step will be to restore the original polish of the car. Due to exposure to different environmental factors like the UV rays, your car exterior will lose its shine hence the need to restore the polish. The last step will be to apply a sealant for a glossy shine. Wax is usually used in the last step.   

A clean car increases the resale value

If you want a good deal, consider thoroughly cleaning your car. From the car’s exterior surface to the interior and even floor mats, ensure everything is spotless. No one would want to buy a dirty-looking car as it exhibits poor maintenance.

The interior of your car should be fresh smelling. Odors are a sign of poor maintenance or negligence on your part as the car owner. It’s best to have a professional clean your car than doing it yourself. 

How should I prepare my car for sale?

Before you sell your car, you must prepare adequately to get the highest offer. Everything must be in good condition, especially the exterior and interior. Here are a few pointers to guide you through the preparation process. 

Study the market

Look at the price tag on other car models. Compare the different offers to arrive at an acceptable average value for your car.  Within that figure, leave room for a buyer to give a lower offer. 

The time of the year and location have a direct influence on the price of your car. For example, in rural areas, a 4 WD will fetch a higher price than in urban areas. In contrast, people buy open-top cars in the summer than in the winter. 

Gather all your documents

Important documents about your car should be available upon request. The car’s title, registration, and other paperwork like service records can increase your sale value. If you have any pending loans, ensure you have the paperwork ready. 

If you have been keeping up with the maintenance schedule, you might receive a higher offer than someone who skipped on the same. 

Clean and detail your car

The interior and exterior of your car must be clean before a sale. Its best to let a professional detailer do the cleaning and detailing. Get a fresh coat of wax for the exterior and remove all personal belongings from the car before vacuuming is done. 

Fix small issues

Ensure all lights, both interior and exterior, work fine. If not, work on them. Check for minor problems like fluid levels and fix them. If there are serious issues, talk to your dealer to fix them at a reasonable cost. 

Inspect your car

After the car has undergone the refreshing phase, inspect it yourself. Take it for a test drive like a potential buyer would and listen for any troubles. If anything needs changing, change it – don’t leave anything to chance. 

Advertise your car 

When your car is ready and presentable, it is time for you to present it to potential buyers. Before people come to you to physically look at the car, they should have a point of reference like pictures. Please take pictures of your recently detailed car and post them on appropriate platforms.

You can enlist the help of friends or car dealerships near you to reach a wider market. Word of mouth supported by images can increase your pool of potential buyers.

Compare multiple offers 

Lastly, you should seek multiple offers before you settle on one. By doing so, you will be able to get the best offer in the market for your car.  

DIY Car Detailing and Cleaning Checklist before Selling It

You can detail your car at home if you feel the services of a professional detailer are expensive. You will need several things that you will usually need for a regular car wash day, but on top of that, car detailing requires other special products.

Here are the basic items required for a DIY car detailing and cleaning. 

  • A steady supply of water from a hose pipe with a spray nozzle attachment
  • A car washing sponge
  • Tire brushes  
  • A car washing soap
  • Two buckets
  • Wax and applicator pads
  • Tire shine
  • A vacuum cleaner 
  • A carpet shampoo
  • Interior detailing spray
  • Microfiber towels
  • Rubbing alcohol for cleaning the windows

The above DIY checklist will help you gather the items you will need for a successful procedure. Let’s now shift gears and look at the areas you should pay attention more.  

The exterior

When detailing the exterior of your car, pay attention to the following:

  • Every area that has a glass-like material like windshields, side mirrors, headlights, and tail lights
  • All painted surfaces like roof, doors, hood, and trunk
  • Wheels like tires, rims, nuts, and bolts
  • Other areas like the grill, splash guards, front bumper, and rear bumper  

The interior 

When detailing the interior of your car, pay attention to the following:

  • The dashboard and console area, and steering wheel
  • The inside part of glass areas like windows and windshield
  • The upholstery, such as the seats, carpets, and floor mats

Once you are through with detailing the interior and exterior of your car, it’s time to take a look at the engine. A regular oil change will ensure that your car run at optimal performance after sale. Depending on your location, look for car detailers who offer free oil changes to save money.

Reasons why you should change your car oil regularly

A regular oil change has several benefits namely; 

Increase engine performance 

To increase the performance of your engine, you must change your car oil regularly. Old oil does not lubricate your car engine properly, which causes the engine to heat up. The heat will wear you’re your engine making it slower.  

Reduce harmful emissions

Old oil usually has dirt and debris, and when it burns, it emits harmful gases that are not environmentally friendly. Minimize air pollution by changing it frequently.  

Extra service

As your detailer is busy changing your car oil, ask them to look around. If anything looks amiss, they will let you know. They might catch another problem while inspecting the engine. 

Should I Fix My Car Before Trading It In?

It is always a good idea to fix your car before you trade it in. If you were to take your car to a dealership in bad condition, the dealer would give you a very low offer.

On the other hand, if you fix your car and get it in good condition, you stand a better chance of getting the best price. In addition, the cost of the repairs is included in the asking price. 

Is It Worth Detailing Your Car Before Selling It?

It is good to consider detailing your car before selling it to increase the value offered by potential buyers. If there are minor issues, take care of them yourself. If the repairs are too expensive, consider selling the car as-is. 

There is no need to spend money upgrading or repairing money at a higher cost, meaning that you will be the one on the losing end. Calculate and talk to your dealer for the best approach to save money on repairs and get a good market price. 

Detailing your car before selling it will increase its value. Although mechanics recommend regular auto detailing services, sometimes you can fall behind on your appointments. If that is the case, you can still get your car in good condition if you detail your car at your local professional detailing service. Consider repairs for both interior and exterior parts of the car. 

Should I Hire A Professional Detailer Or Do It Myself?

Hiring a professional detailer offers  more benefits than doing the job yourself. First, the detailer will look at the car with a hawk eye and recommend everything that needs changing or upgrading.

Benefits of hiring a professional detailer

When you want a higher offer for your car, a professional detailer might give you better results than what you can achieve on your own. If you make one wrong move, like buying and using the wrong product on your car, the cost to fix the problem will cost you a lot of money. 

Another point to consider is that professional detailers not only deep clean your car but also clean your engine. When your engine is clean, your car will run better without extra gunk. The following are the benefits of hiring a professional detailer.

  • Increase the resale value
  • Save on time and money
  • They know the products better than you do
  • They will enhance the car’s performance 

What Should I Do To My Car Before Selling It?

Before you sell your car, you should ensure that it is in tip-top shape. Buyers will steer clear of cars that look neglected. The negligence will show on your car’s coating, and the seat condition will also give away poor maintenance.

If the upholstery is worn out in some places, you should consider replacing that. Your dealer might point you toward an expert who will get you upholstery and placement at fair prices. If you want to replace any interior parts for yourself, compare prices before you lose money.  

Look at the condition of the glass areas of your car, like the windshield and windows, and decide whether they need fixing. Cracks or shaky window panes will decrease the value of your car. When a potential buyer requests a test drive and hears that noise, they will offer a lower value for the car. 

When looking at the window panes of your car, do they move up and down as they should? If not, get that fixed before you even put it up for sale. At the same time, take a look at your locks, and ensure everything works as it should. 

Clean your car or take it to a professional detailer to get the job done. A dirty car with gunk will not fetch the optimal price, and you will end up losing money on something you could have worked on. If there are any personal items in your car, consider removing them before you sell the car. 

Consider cleaning your car’s engine and an oil change going hand in hand. No one will want to buy a car that will break down soon after buying because of old oil. Give your buyer a reason to want to buy your car. 

When your car is clean and the detailing process is done, take as many pictures as possible. Pictures from different angles will help sell your car to potential buyers. If you want a trade-in, your dealer will take a look at the car, and they will compare what you took and the car’s physical condition. 

After looking at the markets and depending on the model of your car, it is crucial to have a figure in mind. Come up with an asking price when you are ready to sell. Potential buyers will ask a price, and if you have no exact number in mind, they will offer their price, which will be lower than the actual market price. 

Does a Clean Car Help Trade-In Value?

As one of the factors that most dealers recommend a person do, car cleaning or car detailing is at the top of the list. A clean car increases the value that you will receive for your car tremendously. From waxing the exterior to detailing the interior, your potential buyers will look at the appearance before asking for details.

You can clean your car by yourself, or you can seek the services of a professional detailer to help get your car to an almost new condition. Remember, first impressions matter most when you want to trade in. Bringing a dirty car to your dealer will decrease its value.  


Car detailing will increase the offers you will receive from potential buyers or your dealer. A detailed car shows that the car owner is responsible and values the car’s maintenance. If you want to fetch a high value for your car, car detailing will get you a better offer.

If you want to detail your car by yourself, follow the detailing procedures to the letter and use your detergents sparingly. Consider going to stores that offer discounted prices and detail your car regularly to keep it in good condition. Remember detailing your car guarantees safety on the road and the satisfaction of a smooth ride.