Should You Detail Your Car Before a Trade In?

A car will probably be one of the most significant financial investments you make in your life, but unfortunately, it loses a good percentage of its value once you drive it off the dealership. This notwithstanding, you want to get as much value for it if you decide to trade it in and get a newer or better model. So should you detail your car before a trade-in?

Man detailing car

Detailing your car before a trade-in is recommended to increase your car’s trade-in value. Your dealership is more likely to pay more for your vehicle if it is in perfect condition and will typically give you a lower price if your car has visible blemishes or defects.

This article will explore some vital questions related to this topic, including why you should detail your car before trading it in and some of the do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when trading in your vehicle.

What Is Car Detailing?

Car detailing inside dashboard

Car detailing involves restoring your vehicle’s interior and exterior for a newer and glossier look. Detailing is primarily undertaken to keep your car looking its best possible way and minimize the impacts of interior wear and the harsh impacts of external elements such as dirt and grime.

Can detailing be done on your car’s interior and exterior, as explained below:

External Detailing

Some exterior detailing activities include the following:

  • A thorough exterior wash and drying to get rid of any dirt or debris
  • Paint spraying to create a smooth appearance
  • Polishing to conceal minor scratches and blemishes
  • Waxing to create a glossy appearance
  • Paint correction

Interior Detailing

Interior detailing includes vacuuming to remove any dirt and dust from your vehicle’s interior and brushing and steam cleaning to remove any stains from mats and carpets. It may also involve leather trimming to care for the leather parts in your car and perfuming, among other things.

While you can detail your car at home, it is recommended that you get a professional detailing service, and this can cost a couple of hundred bucks or more, depending on your service provider and your car’s make, model, and age.

Professional detailing services are preferred primarily because most car owners do not have the necessary equipment for thorough detailing work, such as steam cleaners, hot water extractors, and advanced cleaning systems. The systems allow deeper, more thorough cleaning and access to hard-to-reach places.

However, if you already have all the equipment and time to spare, the DIY option is ideal for you.

So is detailing worth the additional costs if you plan to trade in your car? Read on for more.

Why You Should Detail Your Car Before Trade In

Confused girl with hands up in the air

I cannot recommend detailing your car before a trade-in enough. Whether you plan to sell your vehicle or trade it in, a clean, newer-looking car that is in better condition will typically fetch a higher price on the market.

In fact, used-car dealers can get as much as twice the return on investment simply by cleaning the car before trade-in or sale. Put yourself in the buyer’s position for a minute.

When buying a car, virtually no one wants to pay a higher price for a vehicle with a worn-out interior, dirt caked on the exterior, minor scratches, flaked paint, and other blemishes. In fact, these are some of the issues that will significantly undermine your car’s resale value.

Most buyers will examine your car and look for easily identifiable and apparent defects, and they can use these defects to drive the price down. On the other hand, used car dealers are notorious for seeking the lowest price possible to increase their profit margins.

While it is unlikely that your dealership will pay thousands of dollars more, detailing your car reduces the number of areas or blemishes that they can use to give you a lower value for your car.

The last thing you want is to sabotage your trade-in by giving the auto dealerships an excuse to give you a bad deal.

A cleaner, detailed car also reduces the likelihood that the dealer will view your vehicle as a bad trade because they will spend less to restore the vehicle before resale. Consequently, the dealership will not deduct the cost of repairs from your vehicle’s trade-in price.

Accordingly, detailing your car can potentially increase its resale value or trade-in value by several hundred dollars, which means that the added costs of detailing will definitely be worth it.

First published on Sep 1, 2022 by

What To Avoid When Trading In Your Car

Car salesperson talking to female sitting inside new car

While it is essential to detail your car before trade-in to take advantage of the incremental value, it is important not to get carried away. You should mainly focus on more minor, inexpensive corrections and steer clear of more extensive, major issues as a rule of thumb.

This is because major issues may be too expensive, and you may end up spending more money that will reduce your profits from trading-in your car. Additionally, most auto dealerships typically have the required tools and equipment to perform major repairs at a much lower cost, so you do not have to.

At the end of the day, it all comes to pennies and dollars, and the last thing you want is to spend much more than you will make in return.

Other Aspects To Compliment Car Detailing

Two men talking inside a car dealership

In addition to detailing your car before trading it in, you can increase your car’s trade-in value even more by ensuring that you have all your vehicle accessories during the trade-in. Additionally, it’s recommend having your car’s maintenance records in hand to show that your vehicle is in excellent condition.


Detailing your car is definitely a recommended option before trading in your vehicle. Because this increases your car’s resale value. It is important to remember that auto traders make money by selling your trade-in car at a profit, and the less they have to spend on minor repairs, the higher the price they will offer you.

It is, however, essential to remember to focus on minor defects such as small scratches, minor paint correction, and interior work on your vehicle’s upholstery. As a general rule of thumb, avoid any major repairs that may be expensive.

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CarCareReport dot com first published this article on Sep 1, 2022..

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