5 Easy Fixes to Boost Trade-in and Resale Value

The used-car market can be fickle, and there are a lot of factors that go into a car’s resale value. Brand, model, year, color, transmission, and even where the car is registered can all play a part in the overall value of the vehicle. But, a well-maintained and clean car, truck, or SUV almost always means better resale and a higher trade value

Beyond committing to regular maintenance, there are a variety of things you can do to increase the value of your car. Ignoring these five simple things could destroy your car’s resale value.

5. Deep-clean the upholstery to improve resale value

It may seem daunting, but doing a deep clean of your car’s cloth or leather seats, headliner, and any other fabric surfaces could pay off big time. A buyer is more likely to pay full resale value, and a car dealer is more likely to give you a good trade-in value if the interior is clean. This means scrubbing out stains and de-odorizing bad smells.

Man in a long-sleeve shirt and sunglasses cleaning leather seat upholstery
Lincoln leather car interior | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

RELATED: The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Car

4. Fixing a cracked windshield can save your trade-in value

That chip in your windshield may seem small, but dealerships will take a hefty chunk out of your trade-in value. Private buyers may decline the sale altogether. If your vehicle has safety technology built into the front windshield, it’s even more important to get it fixed before selling or trading your car.

3. Make sure that all of your tires match and are in good condition

Replace any mismatched tires if you want to boost your car’s resale value. Tires from different brands, or tires that are at different stages of wear, could be a red flag to buyers. Ideally, all four tires will be exactly the same. If only one tire is mismatched, you could get away with only replacing a pair. A car dealership may still give you a fair trade-in value for your car if the tires are uneven, but they’ll likely subtract the cost of replacing the tires themselves.

Closeup of a Goodyear tire on a Mazda car
Goodyear tire | Tristan Beischel via Unsplash

RELATED: 5 Myths About Tire Safety That Every Driver Should Be Aware Of

2. Carefully remove any bumper or window stickers to maintain good resale value

Grab some basic home supplies (or a heat gun, if you have one) and start removing those bumper stickers from your car. These accessories are the epitome of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Your treasured “My Other Car is a [Insert Quirky Thing Here]” bumper sticker won’t be as charming to a buyer. Putting in the time to carefully remove stickers, without damaging the paint underneath, could pay off in the long run.

1. Repair or replace headlights or taillights that aren’t working

Fixing a broken light can be a quick and simple way to boost your car’s trade-in or resale value. Many people find they can even do this repair or replacement at home using basic tools. HowStuffWorks cautions that if your car has LED headlights, it may be more complicated. But it’ll be worth the cost of replacing broken or burned-out lights when it comes time to sell.

Close up of a vehicle's left front headlight
Headlights | Sai Kiran Anagani via Unsplash

RELATED: Can Toothpaste Really Fix Your Yellowed Headlights?