Thinking of selling your ride? Here's how you can determine your car's trade-in value

Image: Imperial Auto
Image: Imperial Auto

Saying goodbye is never easy, and for some this rings true even when saying goodbye to a car.

After all, you and your car have made many memories together.

First dates, road trips, dropping the kids off for their first day of school… and many hours of just you and your car in traffic.

When the time finally comes to upgrade, you suddenly ask yourself - what is my car worth? And have I done enough over the past years to maintain the value?

Car depreciation happens quickly. It has been said that the second you drive your car off the dealers’ floor, your vehicle loses some of its value. 

Upkeep is a huge factor in determining car trade-in value and keeping your car in good condition can be the difference between getting a good trade-in value or not. 

What was your experience of selling your first car like? Email us.

8 main factors

According to Imperial Auto, these are the eight main factors that will affect the price offered for your vehicle:

- Popularity of vehicle make and model- Year of first registration

- Mileage (an average mileage of 25 000kms per year is acceptable)

- Vehicle condition

- Warranty, maintenance and/or service plans are intact

- Service history

- Any additional accessories or non-standard specifications 

- Exterior colour of the car may also play a role

Key aspects

Regular maintenance is a must, not only to provide reliability for you, but also to increase resale value in the future. Follow your manufacturers’ recommended maintenance schedule including oil and filter changes. Be sure to keep all maintenance records, no matter how minor, and have them handy when selling a car to show how well you took care of it over time.

So, the mechanics are looked after – but the appearance of the car is of great importance too!

Starting with the exterior - a ding or dent may not seem like a big deal to you but can easily influence the trade-in value. It’s also best to park in a garage out of the elements whenever possible. Before trading in your vehicle, have it professionally washed and take care of all dings and dents, as well as any other exterior issues which can diminish resale value. 

Look after the interior too. Limit eating and drinking in your car – and clean up any spills as soon as they happen.  Give the interior a good clean at least once a month. Before trading in your vehicle, try to restore the interior of your vehicle to appear as like-new as possible. There are several great products and services that specialise in odour removal.

When purchasing a new car, evaluate car option selections. Car buyers are interested in options that make their lives easier and provide safety and comfort. Not all car options are created equally, so consider adding options that are proven to have a positive influence on resale or trade-in value. Buyers want: automatic transmission, power windows, power locks, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, remote start, leather seats (if taken care of, properly) entertainment, and navigation systems. 

Important documents 

Here is what you will need to provide the inspecting dealer when getting your car valued for trade-in:              

- The valuator will ask you what price you are expecting for your car

- RSA identity document or valid driver’s license

- A ‘bank paid in full letter’ to prove that the car has been paid in full or the finance settlement letter to confirm the outstanding financed amount 

- If the car was bought cash, you will need to provide the original invoice indicating a cash purchase and the original NaTIS 

- Proof of residential address- Service handbook to prove service history (if available) 

- Both sets of car keys (if available)

- Any extra items relating to your car e.g. tracking devices

You may not get the final offer for your car immediately, as the dealer may need more time to find the fairest price in the market.  Rest assured, in line with data policies, your personal information will not be shared with other parties

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