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Increasing value of vehicles before trading

In preparation for a new lease or new vehicle, minor scratches and large dents on the old car are not often considered to be part of the equation, as buyers and lessees are more inclined to consider the style, price and condition of the new automobile. Cosmetic and internal issues can cause a great deal of pain at the end of a contract or at trade-in time, but there are options for handling the problems to keep your wallet intact.

Guidance with leasing


 Financial Advisor at Crookston Buick GMC Scott Oertwich says while leasing a vehicle, many auto manufacturers prepare the driver months in advance of the contract end date, sending pamphlets via mail with size indicators to assess the need for repairs.


 “Normal wear and tear is expected when you lease a vehicle,” he says. “They’ll send you a bill in the mail if you cannot fulfill the requirement.”


 Normal wear and tear terms vary by manufacturer, but there are basic guidelines to followto determine what problems should be addressed before the contract end date.


 Dents and scratches are expected with vehicles, but keep in mind anything larger than the longest edge of a credit card should be considered an issue, especially if it needs intense paint repair.


 Interior damage such as holes, tears and cuts are generally chargeable. Small stains on the seats and carpet can be removed easily and lessees are advised to do so before turning in.


 Windshield damage also follows the credit card size rule.


 Tires should meet safe operation guidelines, including appropriate tire tread and gouge-free walls.


 Lights, mirror and turn signals should be present and functional at the time of return.


 It is also important to return all sets of keys received at the beginning of the lease, and maintain the correct amount of contracted mileage.


 Oertwich says there are ways to protect the lessee from having to take on hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs by using insurance options such as Smart Protect.


 “It’s essentially insurance when your vehicle comes back that covers repairs,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what happens, they’ll cover it.”


 He says this option is highly underused and should be considered when signing a contract, just to be safe.


Trade-in repairs


 When trading an owned vehicle for an upgrade, buyers are advised to make the best judgment on what to replace to gain the best deal.


 Mike Coleman, owner of Atlas Auto in Grand Forks, says the buyer should make repairs based on the style and age of car they are looking to trade in.


 “It really depends on the car you’re trading in and the value of it,” he says. “The higher the value of the car, the nicer condition you’ll want it to look. The cheaper the car, you’ll probably not put $2,000 of body work into it before you trade it in.”


 Some dealerships don’t have inhouse repair shops to fix the flaws, but will reach out to area mechanics instead. Other dealerships have mechanics in-house and will generally cost more to fix than if buyers take care of the cosmetic and internal issues themselves.


 Still, Oertwich advises getting the problems corrected by a trusted mechanic before attempting to sell a vehicle. “At least if you fix it, you have control over what happens,” he says.


 Using general guidelines, like those in the lease return pamphlets, bringing a vehicle in for appraisal can be less daunting. Insured drivers often can have flaws erased with coverage, including simple adjustments such as cracked windows. And it can help to have a bit of support from local professionals to give suggestions on what repairs will benefit the automobile’s worth. Oertwich says sales associates can always help drivers inspect the vehicle for appraisal, though it isn’t necessary.


 “Inspections aren’t really that important,” he says. “If you hop in the car and notice something like the service engine light on, well … get that fixed. Get the lights off the dash.”


 And while it’s common sense, some drivers forget the simple trick of using a bit of elbow grease and a vacuum to make the car more appealing to dealers.


 “It always helps to have the vehicle cleaned up a little bit,” Oertwich recommends. “Have it standing tall.”