I want to sell my car. What do I need to do to prepare a used car for sale?

prepare a used car for sale

When you sell a car, the name of the game should be to get as much money as possible for it. And that means there are a handful of things you should do to prepare a used car for sale that will maximise the value of your motor.

Give it a wash

Actually don’t just wash it. Give it the clean of its life. This starts with a wash. Rinse the car first from the top down to get rid of any loose dirt. Then using a special car shampoo – not washing up liquid – give it a thorough wash.

Once you’ve dried it, run your hand over the paintwork. Chances are you’ll feel lots of microscopic bits beneath your fingertips. To get rid of these you need to use what’s called a clay bar. This has a lubricating liquid that you spray on, you then rub the bar of clay over where you’ve sprayed and tiny particles of tar and grit will stick to it.

Finally, polish it. This is will help to bring out the lustre of your car’s paintwork and make it look a million dollars.

prepare a used car for sale
Your car should look more like the one on the left

Have any repairs done

Cleaning it will give you the opportunity to see any damage on your car’s bodywork. The serious buyer will use any blemishes to attempt to haggle the price down. Whether they’re tiny dents, scrapes or scratches it’s ideal to get these sorted out.

A SMART repair should suffice for all but crash damage. This is Small and Medium Area Repair Technology and technicians frequently work as mobile units with all the equipment they need in vans. If you use one of these, make sure they have good reviews and ideally belong to a trade body.

For a handful of small repairs they should charge around £150. It might sound a lot but the buyer who knows what they’re doing will probably want more than that off the vehicle’s price.

For the same reason, if your car has any faults that you’ve put off fixing, get them done by a professional.

Sort out the inside

First of all empty the interior of all your possessions apart from things that you want to sell with the car such as puncture repair kits, tyre inflators and the user manual.

Give this a good clean using a plastic cleaner on the dash and other surfaces (assuming they are plastic). If they’re leather, use a leather cleaner. This will restore the look of the grain.

Remove the mats. If these are rubber you can give them a scrub with soapy water, hose them down and hang them up to dry. If they’re carpet, give them a thorough vacuum and if you think they need it, use carpet cleaner. These usually work by spraying them on and leaving them for a period, before vacuuming.

With the mats out, you should be ready to vacuum inside. When you’re vacuuming, make sure you push the seats forwards and backwards so that you vacuum all the dirt up out of the hardest to reach places. And don’t forget to give the boot a good clean.

Details count

If you can, smarten up the tyres using tyre dressing. And when you clean the wheels, spend a bit of time on each wheel, getting in all the nooks and crannies with a brush. Last but not least, remember to clean the glass inside and out. I’ve got a good hack for this here.

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