Increase The Car Black Book Value, Not Your Cost. That's Your Goal

So you've decided to trade in your car and you now know the car black book value. Like most people you probably would like a little more for your car, am I correct? The question is, how do you increase the wholesale black book value without it costing you more then the amount you gained.

The most common shortcomings of trade in vehicles are:


Noise (including engine knocks and squeals, grinding brakes, transmission harshness), Oil leaks, Smoke from exhaust or under hood


Body Condition (dents, rust forming, scratches), Paint (chipped, faded), Trim (loose or missing components)


Excessive wear, Burns, Scratches or Fading of interior panels and upholstery


Non-Matching, Cracks on sidewalls or in tread, Tread Depth

When I would do appraisals on used Hondas that we were planning to use for resale I followed a few guidelines. First was for the tires. The tread depth had to be more then 45%, there could be very little or no cracking whatsoever and they had to all match. According to this guideline for used Hondas and the car black book I would not have to replace them for resale which means less cost for me, more money for the trade.

Second was for mechanical condition and a good general rule is "with the noises this car is making and the things you see (smoke etc.) would you feel comfortable buying it to drive your family around for the next 3 years?".

It sounds simple enough, but many people with the sentimental attachment they build towards their vehicles overlook what other people are going to see. For both the interior and exterior when you notice scratches and other downfalls ask yourself "could I live with this on the car I am buying?". Even though you may be looking at a newer car and the value is probably higher remember someone is going to be looking at your car the same way you are looking at the car you are thinking of buying.

Another way to help off set some of the costs involved when buying a new car, like bringing your vehicle up to an excellent level for the car black book is to get dealer invoice and incentives to help you negotiate better.

The way to increase your value is to show the dealer or other potential buyers how well you have taken care of your car even though you are planning on buying a new car.

If your tires are almost worn out you should get some new tires. I am not suggesting you go out and purchase the best brand new tires you can find, that would only cost you money and the extra value according to the black book for your car would not offset the difference. So, what to do?

The solution I have always used for myself, friends and family is to find a local tire shop that sells gently used tires. This will help your cars black book value. Make some phone calls to make sure they have the brand you want in stock and what the tread depth is (remember not to purchase with less then 50%).

A good used tire with about 50% life left on it will cost you between $25-$65 balanced and installed. If you purchase a set of four it may only cost a couple hundred dollars which is less then the dealer would have to pay (which you really pay with trade value) to put four brand new tires on your car for resale. When it comes to the mechanical criteria your car has to meet according to the car black book, it could become quite costly to make all the repairs if your vehicle is in rough shape. Pick and choose the most obvious and inexpensive problems to increase your car black book value.

Leaks and engine noise for example can many times be slowed, softened or fixed with bottled solutions found at you local auto parts retailer. I would advise anyone to pay them a visit, explain what the symptoms of the problem are and ask for an inexpensive remedy. When they tell you the cost ask for something less expensive and then really pay attention to the answer. This will help you make a proper decision on cost vs. quality.

While you are at your local auto parts store and you have noticed that your paint is faded or scratched (not too deep), pick up some good quality rubbing compound and polish. Ask for help from the parts consultant to pick the products best suited to your paint situation.

After you get home, remember flash is not free, so roll up your sleeves and get to work making that paint sparkle. This will improve your car black book value and not break the bank. I would suggest following the directions on the containers carefully and not using a buffing machine unless you are well experienced at it. This is because of the risk of burning your paint(scratching) which only creates more work.

The goal that you are trying to achieve is to show that you have cared for your vehicle all along and that it never had the problems that you corrected, inexpensively. Remember that an appraiser at a dealership when figuring out your cars black book value, does not expect it to be flawless, so use the tips above to get the best bang for you buck. You only want your vehicle to get dressed up for Sunday dinner not become something it may never have been, perfect.

A car black book value afterall is interpreted by human eyes so create something that is enjoyed by the senses: sight( no leaks, shiny paint), smell( no oil burning or interior odors), hearing(smooth engine, quiet exhaust), touch (scratches,dents) etc.