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8 tips to maintain car value ahead of part-exchanging

8 tips to maintain car value ahead of part-exchanging
Image source: Getty Images

If you want a good deal on your vehicle part-exchange, you need to protect your car’s value. But according to research by Leasing Options, a few simple oversights can cause the value to drop by up to £2,500 at the dealership. Pretty staggering when you think about it, right?

Here’s some insight into how you can avoid falling into this trap and ensure your car’s value holds up. 

How part-exchanges work

Part-exchanging a car means using it as part payment towards the cost of a new vehicle. You go to the dealership, find a new car that takes your fancy, and receive a price discount based on your old car’s trade-in value

It’s a convenient way to upgrade. Some people find it easier and more convenient than selling a car privately. The problem? You’ll probably only get the car’s basic trade-in value – and that’s if the car’s in good shape.   

What can affect your car’s value

According to the findings by Leasing Options, everything from the mileage on the clock to your car’s MOT and service history can affect how much your car is worth. So, here’s a checklist to work through, based on these findings, to help you secure a fair deal on trade-in day. 

1. Look at your car from a buyer’s perspective

Start here: what will buyers think when they see your car? It might sound simple, but put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. After all, your car’s only worth what someone’s willing to pay for it. 

  • Remove modifications like racer seats and fancy exhaust pipes. 
  • Got a custom paint job? Consider repainting a neutral colour. 
  • If your MOT or service is due soon, complete them before selling. 

2. Get your paperwork and accessories in order

From the logbook to the spare keys, make sure you’ve got all of your essentials ready to hand over at the dealership. It can affect your car’s value if you don’t have:

  • Owner’s manuals
  • Stamped service history
  • MOT certificate
  • V5C (the logbook) 
  • A spare wheel

3. Keep your car looking good 

Appearances matter, so it’s crucial you keep your car looking in good shape.

  • Don’t smoke in your vehicle. From burn marks to lingering smells, smoking can reduce your car’s value by up to £2,000 at the dealership
  • Park your car somewhere sheltered, if possible, to help protect the paintwork from eroding or fading.
  • Check for any signs of rust and fix them before selling.
    • If your car’s a custom colour, like bright pink, you might find it harder to sell. If possible, consider getting the paint changed to something more neutral.

4. Maintain the vehicle regularly 

It might sound obvious, but regular TLC can help preserve your car’s value. 

  • Repair or buff out dents and scratches. 
  • Fix broken wheel trims. 
  • Check that all of your electrics work (e.g. radio controls, window buttons, etc.). 
  • Service your vehicle at regular intervals, at least once a year or so. 

Give your car a good wash and hoover before you take it to the dealership. First impressions count! 

5. Watch your mileage

Where possible, try to keep your mileage down.

  • The higher the mileage, the more likely it is your car will develop engine problems that are expensive to repair.
  • Some components, like suspension parts, are only designed to last for so long, so they’ll need to be replaced after a certain number of miles. 

Unsurprisingly, high mileage affects your car’s value. In fact, according to Leasing Options, a car’s value decreases by 20% for every mileage band you go up. 

6. Consider your location 

Yes, your location can affect your car’s value.

Think of it this way. In rural areas, there’s likely more demand for SUVs or estate cars. However, hatchbacks and convertibles may sell better in urban areas. Bear this in mind when you’re choosing a dealership for the sale.  

7. Do some research

Check your car’s rough trade-in value before you head to the dealership so you have an idea of what’s fair. Sites like Auto Trader offer quick and free car valuations based on your registration and mileage (see, we told you it was important!).

8. Time your part-exchange strategically

If you can, time your part-exchange to coincide with seasonal demand. 4×4’s, for example, are usually more popular in the winter, whereas it’s easier to sell convertibles in the summer.

Demand can affect your trade-in value. 


While it’s impossible to guarantee what a dealership will offer for your vehicle, a little TLC can help you protect your car’s value.

Do your research before heading for the showroom, and remember that even if you’re getting a good trade-in value, this doesn’t mean you should spend more than you can afford on a new model. Don’t commit to a car outside your price range, or else you could struggle to make loan repayments in the long run. 

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