How to Prepare Your Car for Sale

How to Prepare Your Car for Sale

Although the mileage and service history of your car will affect its value, one of the major elements that will influence its price is its appearance. However, this is good news for you, as it's also one of the easiest things for you to improve. Spending up to £100 on a professional valet can increase the value of your car by as much as £300-£400 as a trade-in at a used car dealership. However, even if you tackle the job yourself, you should see excellent results, as it will give your car a 'well looked-after' image.

Cleaning the Outside

Your first step is to wash away all the dirt and grime from the road, using a quality car shampoo. Work from the top down and rinse with plenty of water to prevent paintwork damage, making sure that you pay particular attention to wheels, wheel arches and doorjambs. When finished, dry with a chamois leather.

Once the car is clean, you will need to deal with the details:

  • Give your car that shiny new-car look by giving it a good polish; this will instantly attract buyers.
  • Replace any missing trim or badges; these may be found cheaply at breaker's yards.
  • If your wheel trims are damaged, consider buying new ones to replace them. Damaged alloys can be repaired, although this may be expensive. Make sure alloys are clean and shiny; buy an alloy wheel cleaner to treat them.
  • It's worth getting minor damage such as small dents, stone chips or scratches fixed, either by using a touch-up stick or by getting a professional in. Such work needn't be costly, and can dramatically improve your car's appearance.

Never use washing up liquid to wash your car as it contains salt, which will help to promote rust, unlike dedicated car products, which keep it at bay.

To top

Cleaning the Inside

Sprucing up the interior of your car will take some hard work and elbow grease. Remove all your clutter and vacuum the car well, paying particular attention to seats, carpets, cup holders, pockets, ashtrays, crevices and dashboard. You'll have to work particularly hard if you have to remove evidence of dog hairs.

Once the general interior is clean, you can then deal with the specifics:

  • Clean the dashboard with a specialised dashboard cleaner; don't use furniture spray as this will give it a cheap, shiny appearance. Use the cleaner to treat trims as well, being careful not to get spray on any of the fabric.
  • If you have any holes in the dashboard from any equipment you have removed, such as mobile phone holders or satellite navigation systems, get them filled in by a specialist. They can also repair other damage to dashboards or door trims.
  • After you've cleaned the dashboard, give all the windows a good clean using a damp chamois leather or a glass cleaner. Make sure that you use a side-to-side motion when cleaning the rear window; this will prevent any damage to the heater elements.
  • Don't saturate the car in air freshener, as this will make buyers think that you're tring to cover up something. Get rid of any smell of cigarette smoke by using an odour neutraliser and make sure the ashtray has been thoroughly cleaned.
  • Replace any non-standard fittings, such as alloy pedal covers or flashy gear knobs, as these may give buyers the impression that the car has been driven by a boy racer.

To top

Under the Bonnet Checks

A few simple checks can make sure that buyers are not unduly worried by the state of your engine:

  • Make sure that all other fluid levels are topped up, including the transmission fluid, cooling system and washer fluid.
  • Change the oil; dark sludgy oil will immediately put buyers off as they will assume that the car has not been cared for.
  • Make the engine bay look cared for by cleaning out leaves from air intakes and making it look generally tidy. However, avoid steam cleaning the engine; this can immediately arouse a buyer's suspicion as they may think you are trying to hide problems such as oil leaks. Steam-cleaners can also damage fragile parts or connections in older cars.

To top

Collecting the Paperwork

Make sure that you have all your paperwork to hand. The two essential documents you'll need are:

There are other documents that can help to prove that you have cared for your car, which will increase a buyer's confidence; these include:

  • Previous MOTs
  • Servicing schedule
  • Invoices for any work you have had carried out

To top