trade up when you trade in

a bit of careful prior planning can ensure that you get the most for your old car

trade up when you trade in

When buying a new car, trading in your current vehicle can easily become something of an after-thought. Don't let it be. This is something you need to sort out well before you do your replacement car deal. We'd recommend the following steps:

1) Check on the value of your car any of the newsagent price guides will help you here. If you know someone in the trade, then borrow one of their guides: they'll be more accurate.

2) Advertise your car in the local paper for a couple of weeks slightly above its value. If you get no response, then you'll know the trade publication value is right and can insist on it with your dealer knowing you couldn't have got any more. If you sell your car, then of course it's a bonus.

3) While you're advertising, find your ideal replacement car and get the dealer's best quote without taking into account any trade-in.

4) If you get no advertising response, introduce the trade-in to the dealer and insist that the market value is subtracted from whatever deal was previously on the table. This way, you know that your trade-in isn't eating into the dealer's discount.

Whether you sell your existing car privately or use it as a dealer trade-in, you'll only get the best valuation if you present the car properly:

1) Make sure that your service records are up-to-date

2) Have all the paperwork ready to hand at valuation or sale time: if you haven't, it will make the deal seem dodgy.

3) Invest in a comprehensive professional valet, inside and out - don't just shove the car though the car wash: dealers know the difference and private customers appreciate it. If you don't want to stretch to a valet, then at least follow our car cleaning tips below:

Body and Paint Work

Shoddy bodywork is a big turn-off. Scratches on paintwork and patches of rust not only make a car look scruffy and neglected, they automatically lower the price that a buyer is prepared to pay.

Make sure that rusty areas are treated with Rust Treatment

If the rust is too far gone, use a little body filler to fill up holes in the body work

Use a colour brush to cover up stone chips and minor paint work problems that need an exact colour match, or use the new Stone Chip and Scratch Repair System

Big motor stores like Halfords have wide ranges of car paints and normally offer a Special Order Paint Service for more obscure shades, with an exact match for any colour

Make sure that the less obvious areas are also pristine. Take care to treat marks on wheels, inside the engine and on bumpers with specialist paints

Replace any individual wheel trims that are missing and ensure you have a matching set

Cleaning

First impressions count when selling a car and nothing impresses more than a spotless showroom shine. You can achieve this using any number of different products ranging from upholstery cleaner to tyre cleaner.

Begin by cutting through dust and grime with a strong solution like Advanced Car Wash

Use a Colour Restorer to restore paintwork to a gleaming full-bodied shine. Combine this with a Showroom Polish to give the car a quick-shine that returns the paintwork to showroom standard

Dazzle the potential buyer with the quality of your alloys by using one of the many cleaning products available

Return faded bumpers to their original colour with Exterior Trim Treatment

Interior Valeting

Bad smells won't sell your car. To make the most of your motor, it is vital to make sure that the interior is as spotless as the chrome on the outside.

Be sure to spruce up the seats with an upholstery cleaner

Stick down any loose pieces of carpet with tape and freshen them up with a heavy duty carpet cleaner

Get dusty dashboards back to their former glory with interior trim treatment available in gloss or matt

Get rid of unpleasant smells with odour neutralisers, available in a wide range of fragrances

MOT

If your car is unroadworthy, it's not worth buying, so a current MOT is essential. But before putting a car through an MOT, it is important to carry out a series of simple checks to help it to pass.

Check and replace any faulty bulbs, the most common cause of MOT failure.

Make sure that wing mirrors are not cracked and that the interior mirror is firmly attached.

Replace worn wiper blades

Ensure that number plates are legible and not cracked

A few pounds spent on car valeting products and a little bit of effort can make all the difference between a quick sale and a non-sale - and if that effort also increases the price of the car, you would be mad not to get your hands dirty!