Should I Fix a Dent In My Car Before Trading It In?

4 Minutes Read

When it comes to trading in a car, truck, or other vehicle, many people wonder if it’s worth fixing any dents before doing so. While trading in a car with dents may seem like an easier and more convenient option, it’s important to consider the impact that dents can have on a car’s value. In this article, we’ll explore whether fixing a dent in your car before trading it in is a good idea. We’ll look at the factors that determine a car’s trade-in value, the cost of repairing dents, and tips for negotiating the best trade-in value for your car, so that you can make an informed decision about whether to fix those dents or not.


Why Appearance Matters in Trade-Ins

When trading in or selling a vehicle, the appearance of the vehicle plays a significant role in the process. While some may think that only mechanical condition matters, the truth is that the overall appearance can have a substantial impact on the trade-in value. Here’s why a vehicle’s appearance matters when trading it in. 

First impressions count. When a dealership or potential buyer evaluates your car, the first impression is crucial. The exterior condition, including the presence of dents, scratches, rust, or faded paint, immediately catches the eye. A well-maintained and visually appealing vehicle creates a positive impression and suggests that the car has been cared for and is well-maintained overall. 

A vehicle’s appearance can also influence the perceived value of the car. When a buyer or dealership sees a car in excellent condition, they are more likely to associate it with higher value and be willing to offer a better value for the vehicle. Conversely, a car with visible dents or significant cosmetic issues may raise concerns about the vehicle’s underlying mechanical or structural condition, resulting in a lower offer. 


Can You Trade a Car with Dents?

The short answer is, yes, it is possible to trade in a vehicle with dents. However, the presence of dents may affect the trade-in value of the vehicle. The extent of the visibility of the dents, as well as their impact on the overall condition and appearance of the car, will be considered during the trade-in appraisal process. 


Will a Small Dent Affect Trade-In Value?

Even small dents can have an impact on the overall value of your car, especially if there are many small dents or your vehicle doesn’t have many cosmetic imperfections overall. Visibility and location of the dent(s) play a role. It can have a more significant negative impact if the dents are easily noticeable, especially on prominent areas such as the hood, doors, or trunk. 

Overall vehicle condition, the age of the vehicle, and the mileage all play a part in the way small dents are perceived by buyers, too. If your vehicle already has multiple cosmetic imperfections, or if your vehicle is older or has high mileage, it is likely that small dents won’t matter as much in terms of the overall appearance and value of the vehicle.


How Much Will a Dent Affect Trade-In Value?

The extent to which a dent affects the trade-in value of a vehicle can vary depending on several factors. Generally, small dents may result in a minor reduction in trade-in value, ranging from $100 to $500, depending on the location, visibility, and extent of damage of the dent(s). Moderate-sized dents, such as those that require professional repair, can lead to a reduction of up to $1,500. Significant or multiple dents may have a more substantial impact, potentially reducing the trade-in value further. It’s important to note that these ranges are approximate and and can vary based on the specific vehicle circumstances and appraisal criteria of the dealership or buyer.


Is It Worth Fixing Cosmetic Damage on a Car Before Selling?

Deciding whether it’s worth fixing cosmetic damage on a car before selling depends on various factors. Consider the cost of repairs versus the potential increase in selling price. Generally, minor cosmetic issues like small scratches or scuffs may not significantly impact the selling price. However, larger dents, deep scratches, or damaged paintwork can deter potential buyers and result in lower offers. If the cost of repairs is reasonable compared to the potential increase in selling price, it’s often beneficial to fix cosmetic damage to make the vehicle more appealing and maximize its value.


Other Ways to Increase the Resale Value of Your Used Car

When preparing to sell your vehicle, there are other ways you can increase its resale value and attract potential buyers. Here are four key areas to focus on:

Fix Scratches

Addressing visible scratches and scuffs on the exterior can significantly improve your vehicle’s appearance. Touching up paintwork or opting for professional scratch removal services can help restore the vehicle’s aesthetic appeal. 

Fix Rust

Rust spots can be a major turn-off for buyers and can negatively impact the resale value of your vehicle. Repairing rusted areas by sanding, treating, and repainting them can help prevent further corrosion and enhance the vehicle’s overall condition and value.

Fix Windshield

A cracked or damaged windshield not only affects the vehicle’s safety but also diminishes its value. Repairing minor chips or replacing the windshield, if necessary, can enhance the vehicle's visual appeal and structural integrity.


Investing in professional detailing services can work wonders for the overall presentation of your vehicle. Thoroughly clean the interior, including carpets, seats, and dashboard. Additionally, give the exterior a deep cleaning, including washing, waxing, and polishing to make it shine like new. 

By addressing these areas, you can present your vehicle in its best possible condition increasing its resale value and attracting potential buyers who appreciate a well-maintained and cared-for vehicle. 


Transform Your Vehicle’s Value Today: Request an Estimate and Boost Your Resale Potential

Do you have a vehicle that you are preparing to sell or trade in? Does it have cosmetic or structural damage that needs repair? By fixing dents, scratches, rust, and other imperfections, you can significantly enhance the resale value of your vehicle and attract potential buyers. If you’re looking for professional and reliable auto repair services in Flagstaff, Arizona, look no further! Flagstaff Collision Center technicians are highly skilled and certified, and ready to help with dent removal, auto paint repair, bumper repair, and collision repair. Trust Flagstaff Collision Center to provide top-notch services and help you achieve the best possible value for your vehicle. Request an estimate today!


Request a Free Estimate


Michael Whittemore