If you’ve been thinking about trading in your vehicle towards a new one, it goes without saying that you’re looking for the best deal in auto sales. Any dealership that’s willing to pay more for your vehicle is naturally going to warrant a longer look from you when you start to wander the lot. 

However, you may be wondering, “How do I prepare a car for trade-in?” There’s been a lot of misinformation in this topic as of late, as some dealerships specifically say not to bother cleaning it when the customer brings it in. However, in our experience, as both dealers and consumers, a dirty car is naturally going to look just a little bit cheaper than one that’s in relatively clean shape. According to this AutoTrader article, (https://www.autotrader.com/car-tips/clean-car-before-trading-selling#:~:text=An%20old%20saying%20proclaims%20that,trading%20or%20selling%20their%20ride) sellers/traders can expect up to 200% extra profit from just cleaning the car itself before selling it! Make sure you get the best deal when it comes to auto sales! A fresh, clean smell, no signs of visible dirtiness, and a thorough sweeping of the car can have a major impact on the aesthetic value of the car, in addition to the financial value that will be added on by the dealership. If you’re ready to head to a used car dealer near me, there’s no better place to start!

However, if you’re really looking to make your car shine, it’s going to take a bit more than that! Read on to find out our method of making sure you get the maximum dollar for your trade-in! 


If it’s been a while since your car has been cleaned, this can also just make a good guide on at-home car detailing! 

  1. Gather your supplies.

You probably already know the inside of your car fairly well, but be sure you get the correct materials for cleaning. Vinyl, leather, cloth, carpets, and any other upholstery materials on the interior will require different cleaning agents, so be sure to gather those first. Your local big-box store probably has the majority of car cleaning supplies you’ll need, but if there’s any that aren’t there, car parts stores also tend to carry car supplies, so make those stops and we’ll get back to the detailing! For additional quality, try using microfiber cloth, as it tends to get more dust than any other material, plus it feels nice on your hands while you’re cleaning. It also may be worth your time to rent/buy an upholstery cleaner, as it does take the work out of several steps listed later in this article.


  1. Dust it!

Start with dust and debris. Any trash in the car should be taken out first, as well as loose change, belongings, any travel supplies, any anything else that doesn’t necessarily need to be in the car. The less stuff in the car, the better, it’ll make things easier for your cleaning purposes. Don’t forget to get the air vents, use a Q-tip or other long cleaning tool to get all the deep-set dust out.


  1. Vacuum it!

If your car has removable floor mats, make sure they get vacuumed as well, if applicable. If they’re made of a less porous material, use a power washer or other water source to clean the mats, make sure that they’re fully dry before you put them back in the car, but if you’re doing this in sequence, they’ll have time to dry while you work on the rest of the car. Get the seats, the floors, the spaces between the door and the seat, and as far under the seats as your vacuum will allow. You may need a dedicated carpet cleaner for any stains that you find, let them soak in before you scrub the stain out.

  1. Wipe down the interior. 

Start with the dashboard, make sure to get the center console, door handles and panels, steering wheel and column. Choose a pleasant scent of cleaner for this, as smell has a surprising amount of influence in how nicely a car is perceived. 


  1. Clean the seats.

Use that upholstery cleaner, or, if you’re working by hand, mix two cups cups water, one cup of vinegar and approximately a tablespoon of dish soap in a spray bottle to create a safe but effective solution to stains on the seats. You’ll have to scrub upholstery to get these out, but after a few minutes of soaking plus a few minutes of scrubbing, they should be looking far superior to how they did previously. Make sure you get all areas of the seats, front and back.


  1. Get the tires clean!

Tire cleaner and wheel cleaner are supplies are also strongly recommended for a little extra boost on the exterior of the vehicle. Use a soft-bristled brush to make sure you don’t scratch anything, but ensure that all dirt and grime are gone.


  1. Wash the exterior!

You can simply take your car to a car wash for this step, but if you’d like to do this by hand, get car wash soap and a car washing mitt, which will help ensure that you don’t leave scratches or streaks while cleaning the exterior.


  1. Don’t skip details!

If your car has any sort of metallic external features, make sure they’re wiped down with an appropriate cleaner. Any other features made of a different material, including the muffler, a hood scoop, running boards, etc. should be taken care of as well during this step.


  1. Apply car wax!

Make sure your car is every bit as shiny and new-looking as it can be before you take your car to a used car dealer near me. Don’t be afraid to go a little heavy on the wax, and make sure to wipe off any additional wax that didn’t set in with a microfiber cloth to ensure that the effect isn’t ruined. 

After you’ve completed all these steps, your car should be looking many orders of magnitude better than it did previously. Assuming there’s no outstanding issues with the vehicle itself, you should expect to receive significantly more for your trade-in than you would have otherwise. 


Now that your vehicle is all ready to be sold, go ahead and tell us all about it here! (https://www.castlecarcompany.com/trade)  We give top dollar for your trade, and we offer quite the selection of vehicles for your consideration, take a look at our inventory as well! (https://www.castlecarcompany.com/newandusedcars?clearall=1)