Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

Trade-Ins: Avoiding Dealer Pet Peeves

Understanding what a dealer is looking for in a de-fleeted vehicle will increase your resale value.

May 2009, by - Also by this author

Reconditioning on high-mileage units should be left to the dealership, as your ROI will be minimal.

In this economy, dealers are hungry for good used units to retail. This works to the benefit of the small fleet administrator with a solid dealer relationship.  

"It's hard to find good, used cars to retail right now," says Chuck Pezzuto of Piemonte Ford, a national fleet dealer based in Melrose Park, Ill. "There is a need for product, even with higher miles." 

Whether the unit stays on the dealer's lot or is sent to auction, there are considerations when it comes to mileage, equipment, color and condition that will make your de-fleeted vehicle more attractive to the dealer and thus give you a higher return. 

Mileage: Pushing the Edge

Dealers say they look for cars with less than 80,000 miles on them because many lenders will not write a loan for mileage above that threshold.  

However, for GM vehicles, the 100,000-mile powertrain warranty has helped push the acceptable mileage limit higher, says Brad Sigmon of Randy Marion Chevrolet in Mooresville, N.C. Sigmon's dealership does not take trade-ins per se; instead it acts as a clearinghouse for a variety of types of auction sales. 

In terms of trucks, Sigmon says he takes units with up to 250,000-300,000 miles on a daily basis to wholesale. However, many dealers don't want a truck with more than 100,000 miles to retail unless it's a specialty unit such as a boom truck, says Pezzuto. 

Equipment: You Can Leave Your Rack on

Not surprisingly, dealers see automatic transmission and air conditioning as essential for all car and truck trade-ins. Power locks and windows, CD players and sunroofs in cars also help resale values, though cruise control won't add much. 

Cars with extra content that are still under factory warranty will return more. The return on investment for most options, such as navigation units, lessens once a car reaches the 70,000-mile mark, says Pezzuto.  

Moreover, if it's an older model with a nav unit, make sure you're trading in the vehicle with the installation disk. If not, the dealer will have the hassle and expense of acquiring a new one, which will take away value.  

Don't bother replacing missing floor mats, says Joe David Pacifico of Pacifico Marple Auto Group in Broomall, Pa., as you won't recoup any of your cost.  

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