Should I Fix My Car Before Trading In?

Mechanic Examining Scratch

When it comes to trading in your vehicle and determining the trade-in value, we’re sure you’re wondering, “Should I fix my car before trade-in?” There is no right or wrong answer here, but our finance center team at Kareem Auto Sales Inc would like to offer you some insight that may help you make the best decision for your situation.



While we would recommend fixing anything minor, like scratches or paint touch-ups, along with making sure your car’s clean, you are more than likely better off without fixing any major issues. Especially those that will cost more than your trade-in value. Learn more about the do’s and don’ts of trade-in with our Sacramento team. 

Fix My Car Before Trade: What Not To Fix

If there are any major repairs in your current Elk Grove ride, Kareem Auto Sales Inc advises you not to fix them before trading in for three reasons:

  • Major repairs will be expensive, which will lower how much you will actually get from the trade-in.
  • Dealerships have the expertise and tools to easily fix major issues at a lower cost than you will spend out of pocket. This is how dealerships can make a profit from buying and reselling used cars!
  • Depending on the dealership you go to, they might not do a detailed inspection of your car before finalizing the trade-in, so they might not deduct the cost of these repairs from your trade-in price. 

Fix My Car Before Trade: What to Fix 

Now that you know what not to fix, what can you fix in your Roseville or Folsom ride, and is it worth the trouble? While you can fix minor things to at least make your car presentable in hopes of maintaining or increasing the trade-in value, dealerships can deduct the value for money they will spend for reconditioning just in case there are major issues that aren’t apparent. 

Below, you’ll find a list of ways you can ensure your vehicle is visually putting its best foot forward when it comes time for trade-in:


  • Clean out the inside. Dispose of any garbage, take out personal items, and clean the windows & carpets.
  • Wash the car. Whether you decide to do it yourself or go to a professional, you should wash the car to get rid of any marks and stains. 
  • Fix any scratches. If they’re minor, you can try to fix car paint scratches at home. 
  • Wax your car. After washing your car, you can wax it to give it a shiny finish. 
  • Check headlamps. Make sure they’re working properly, and replace them if needed.
  • Check the fluids (brake & transmission), oil, radiator, and windshield washer. Make sure they’re up to date so the dealer will know you’ve been keeping up with basic maintenance.

What Else Can I Do Before Trading In My Car?

While fixing your car before a trade-in might be a double-edged sword, there are some cost-free steps you can take aside from fixing your car to show the dealership that your car has been taken off properly:

  • Complete or at least recent maintenance records neatly put together
  • Have everything that came with the car when you show up at the dealership, including the mats, keys, and winter tires

Trade In Your Car at Kareem Auto Sales Inc Today! 

When you’re ready to make the trade, we’ll help you every step of the way. You can use our trade-in calculator to get started, or you can reach out to our finance center team for more information. If you have any questions, be sure to contact us!

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