Preparing a car for sale – how to get the most from your part exchange

Andy Newbound

By: Andy Newbound

If you’re looking to get the best possible price and make the most money from any part-exchange deal for your current car, it can be a good idea to do a little pre-work in advance. You’d be amazed at how much difference a bit of elbow-grease can make to the value; sometimes hundreds of pounds.

So, to help you maximise the desirability of your car, we’ve taken a look at some of the easiest ways to give its curb appeal an injection of umph. Here’s our guide and top tips to getting the most from your part exchange:


You won’t be surprised to learn that how your car looks, both inside and out, can significantly impact its value. Many dealers will interpret a well looked after car, with a spotless interior and polished, glistening paintwork as a sign that the car has been cared for under the bonnet too.

To get maximum value, it could be worth investing in a professional valet for your car. It might cost you a few quid extra, but the payback could be many times higher.

However, if your budget will only stretch to a DIY clean, there are a number of things you can easily do to spruce up your car, inside and out.

- First, give the exterior a thorough clean. Don’t scrimp on the elbow-grease; make sure you remove all dirt and grime from each area of painted surface. Make sure you remember to clean the window inside and out, using a specific window cleaning solution to prevent streaks and add sparkle.

- To really make the paintwork sparkle, think about giving it a cut and polish. You can buy the polish quite cheaply and although it might take an hour or two of extra effort, the results will certainly be worth it.

- Next, spend time cleaning the cabin and interior. We recommend you start with the door jams as these are often the first thing people notice when you open the car. Clean out the pockets too. These have a habit of collecting unseen grime in the corners, so don’t cut corners.

- Make the glove compartment presentable and clean, and vacuum the carpets and upholstery too (remember to remove the mats and clean underneath). You could also invest in a new set of car mats to make the interior appear even smarter.

- Finally, get rid of dust and any smears from the dash and steering wheel. Making this look and feel at its best creates a fantastic first-impression. Adding a subtle air-freshener helps your car smell great too.

One area that’s often overlooked is your car’s boot. For many drivers, this can be a storage place for all kinds of bric-a-brac. Although this might be convenient for you, it probably won’t appeal to any potential buyer. So make an effort to clean it out and make it look smart. Also make sure the tools and spare tyre are in place and securely stowed.


Naturally, the better condition your car is in, the higher value you’re likely to be offered. Small dents and scrapes can often be repaired easily, quickly and cheaply using SMART Repairs.

In addition to this, there are a number of smaller areas and minor repairs that you can check and sort out yourself. This includes things like your car’s lights: It only takes a few moments to look around the car and test these. If any bulbs aren’t working they should be simple and quite cheap to replace.

The same applies to your windscreen wipers and tyres; easy to check and quite straightforward to replace. Plus, check your car’s oil, coolant levels and brake fluids, topping them up if they appear low.


A car is worth more to a potential buyers, if it comes with all its original paperwork. It demonstrates that you have cared enough about the car to keep things safe and in good condition; this tells buyers you’re likely to have taken the same approach with the car itself.

Providing official car documents and paperwork can help you establish a degree of trust, credibility and reassurance. So the more part-exchange car paperwork you have, the better. If possible, you should look to provide the following:

V5C document. This is also known as your car’s Log Book. It shows potential buyers that you are the registered keeper plus it also shows when the car was first registered; how many previous owners it has had; plus key facts such as the original colour, engine size, number of doors, vehicle identification number (VIN), etc.

MOT Certificates. It can also be a good idea to collate your current and old MOTs, plus invoices for any maintenance work you had done as a result of advisories. Additionally, if there’s only a short period remaining on the car’s current MOT, it could be worth arranging a new one - a new 12-month MOT certificate is attractive to buyers.

Service History. A full or even a part service history is extremely attractive and can boost the valuation of your car quite significantly. If possible, make sure you can supply the car’s original service handbook and that it has all the relevant stamps from an authorised dealer or approved garage

Another top tip us to keep and show any car documentation, invoices and receipts for any additional work carried out, including new exhausts, tyres, windscreen wipers, etc.

Original Owner’s Manual. Just as importantly, you should also include the original owner’s manual in your part-exchange documents. Even better if it’s still in the presentation wallet usually provided when you first buy a car. Remember to supply spare keys too – both sets if you have them.

For more detail about the documentation needed, please see: What documents do I need to part-exchange my car?


Once you’ve prepared your car as best you can, it’s time for a valuation to see if you can get the most from your part exchange. A quick and straightforward way to do this is via our very own 3-step online system. Just provide a few details and we’ll get back to you with a figure. It’s that easy!

Please note we record all our calls to ensure that we give you the service you deserve.