Back to all posts

Share this:

What is Auto Reconditioning?

Auto reconditioning is a crucial part of any independent dealer's business

Auto reconditioning is a comprehensive process aimed at restoring used vehicles to optimal condition for resale. This involves more than just basic detailing; it encompasses a range of tasks to improve the vehicle’s appearance, functionality, and safety. 

What Does Auto Reconditioning Mean for a Car?

When a vehicle undergoes reconditioning, it undergoes a thorough inspection to identify any issues that need addressing. This includes mechanical repairs, cosmetic enhancements, and ensuring compliance with safety and regulatory standards. 

A car may need to be reconditioned for several reasons, all aimed at improving its overall condition and appeal for resale. Some common instances where a car may need reconditioning include:

  • Trade-ins
  • Off-lease Vehicles
  • Auction Purchases
  • Rental Returns
  • Fleet Vehicles
  • Collision Repair
  • Age and Wear 
  • Customer Returns
  • Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Requirements
  • Warranty Compliance

Reconditioning has the potential to add value to used cars by improving their overall condition and appearance. When reconditioning services are needed, and the work is done well, it allows dealerships to sell vehicles at higher prices, attracting more customers and increasing profits–all while ensuring the vehicle is road-ready.

What does auto reconditioning involve?

The reconditioning process typically begins with a detailed inspection of the vehicle’s interior and exterior. This includes identifying any dents, scratches, or other cosmetic imperfections that need addressing. Once the vehicle is cleaned and prepared, technicians move on to mechanical repairs, such as engine, transmission, or suspension work.

After addressing mechanical issues, the vehicle undergoes cosmetic enhancements, such as paint touch-ups and detailing. This step aims to improve the vehicle’s appearance and make it more appealing to potential buyers. Finally, the vehicle undergoes a series of safety and compliance checks to ensure it meets all regulatory standards.

Though the reconditioning process may differ depending on the vehicle, some common reconditioning activities include:

  • Addressing engine, transmission, suspension, or brake issues.
  • Repairing dents, scratches, or paint damage.
  • Cleaning and restoring the interior, including seats, carpets, and trim.
  • Upgrading safety features or addressing safety recalls.
  • Repairing or replacing non-functioning components, such as lights or electronics.
  • Eliminating unpleasant odors from the interior.
  • Tire and Wheel Replacement.
  • Ensuring that the vehicle meets safety and regulatory standards, including emissions and safety inspection.

How Long Does Vehicle Reconditioning Take?

The duration of the reconditioning process can vary depending on several factors. The extent of the work required, the availability of parts, and the workload at the reconditioning facility can all impact the time it takes to recondition a vehicle.

Although every vehicle is unique, dealers can expect the recon process to take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Vehicles that require extensive mechanical repairs or cosmetic enhancements may take longer to recondition. Additionally, factors such as the complexity of the repairs needed and the efficiency of the reconditioning team can also affect the timeline.

It’s important for dealerships to manage their reconditioning process efficiently to minimize the time it takes to prepare vehicles for resale. This can help dealerships reduce holding costs and improve their overall profitability.

What are the best practices for vehicle reconditioning?

With auto reconditioning playing such an important role for independent dealerships, it’s a good idea to cover some best practices. Here are a few tips and essentials to keep in mind:

Reconditioning speed is essential

    Used car sales are a fast-paced environment. Streamlining your reconditioning process is crucial for maximizing inventory turnover and profitability. Set aggressive time goals for reconditioning and use technology to track progress and identify any delays. Pre-purchase inspections further accelerate the process by giving you a head start on identifying needed repairs.

    Some tips for faster reconditioning are: 

    • Aim to complete most reconditioning within 4-5 days
    • Invest in reconditioning software to manage workflow, spot bottlenecks, and track progress
    • Get a jump start by having a technician examine vehicles before they even hit your lot, allowing you to make smarter acquisition decisions and set realistic expectations for time and expense

    Prioritize your repairs

    A thoughtful approach to reconditioning will balance costs with maximizing your profit potential. Prioritize essential mechanical and safety repairs. Then address obvious cosmetic flaws that impact a vehicle’s perceived value. Carefully consider the potential return on investment before sinking excessive costs into reconditioning.

    To better prioritize the repairs during auto reconditioning, you might try to: 

    • Create a standard checklist of essential repair
    • Set a reconditioning budget for each vehicle and track expenses
    • Communicate clearly with your reconditioning department so the team knows which repairs are most essential

    Get smarter about acquisition

    When it comes to buying cars, the choice really matters. It can make a big difference in how much money you have to spend on repairs and how much you can make when you sell it. It’s not a good idea to buy a car that’s all banged up or is going to cost a lot to fix. And it’s smart to have a clear plan for what you’re going to do with each car—are you going to fix it up and sell it for a profit, or are you going to sell it at an auction? 

    Some tips for more effective vehicle acquisition are:

    • Be selective when buying used cars, focusing on vehicles with a good reconditioning ROI.
    • It’s important to be aware of which parts or jobs are covered under bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, as this can impact reconditioning costs and profitability
    • Avoid vehicles with extensive damage or those likely to be money pits
    • Determine a vehicle’s potential exit strategy before you buy it.

    Bring your sales and service teams together

    Breaking down the walls between the used car sales and service departments is a recipe for dealership success. By focusing on shared goals, like selling reliable vehicles and building a loyal customer base, both departments can make smarter decisions. This means the sales team might consult service about a vehicle’s history, while service can recommend essential pre-sale repairs to increase profitability. 

    If you’re looking to galvanize the connection between sales and service, you could:

    • Establish regular meetings between sales and service leadership teams to discuss inventory, potential issues, and customer feedback.
    • Offer service techs the chance to join on auction days, or let salespeople shadow technicians to better understand common repair needs.
    • Create goals with metrics that encompass both sales and service, such as customer satisfaction or repeat customer rates.

    AFC – your trusted source for floorplan financing

    Auto reconditioning is a comprehensive process that adds significant value to used vehicles. By understanding what’s involved in reconditioning, and keeping the dealerships can improve the overall condition of their inventory, attract more customers, and increase their profits. 

    Ready to drive your dealership’s success? Unlock the power of industry knowledge with AFC, your trusted partner in automotive finance. Learn more about floorplan financing solutions or take the next step and apply for floorplan financing today.

    “AFC” refers to Automotive Finance Corporation, Automotive Finance Canada Inc., and AFC Cal, LLC in their respective jurisdictions. All California transactions are through AFC Cal, LLC. California loans will be made pursuant to Department of Business Oversight California Finance Lenders License. Canadian transactions are through Automotive Finance Canada Inc.’

    Disclaimer: Descriptions of AFC floorplans are for illustrative purposes only. Terms of AFC floorplan financing are subject to a final written agreement acceptable with AFC. AFC does not guarantee any results for floorplan financing and examples are for illustrative purposes only. Dealers should consult their own advisors to make independent business decisions regarding floorplan financing.