When selling your car, do you know how to get the most money out of it? If you think it consists of only cleaning the garbage out of the backseat and giving it a quick bath then you may not be making the maximum potential on your sale. But do not worry, we have compiled a quick check list that will ensure you get the most out of your car. Following all of these tips can possibly mean the difference of several thousands dollars or in other words, a down payment on a new car!
Increase Your Car’s Value with a Wash and Detail
Washing and detailing your car is single handedly the most important thing you can do. Why? Because the first impression is the most important and before the buyer asks to take it on a test drive, they will look the exterior and interior over and make sure it is up to their standards. This is a great way to increase you car’s value. Now, this does not mean you pull the car out of the garage and rinse it with the garden hose. Oh no, that will not work. There are many areas on your vehicle that has been more than likely over looked over the years and will stand out like a sore thumb to potential buyers. Here is a task list of things to wash and or detail. If all else fails, hire a professional! These items will get you the most money for your car, possibly thousands!
- Wash the body of the car including wheels, tires, wheel wells, all trim and emblems, windows, and molding. For all plastic or rubber be sure to use a chemical that will not eat at the plastic or rubber. Be sure to use some kind of dressing for tires and wheel wells to keep them shiny.
- Steam clean or pressure wash the engine compartment. Be sure not to force water into the engine compartment. Be sure to get everywhere. Any kind of plastic piece can be dressed for a shinier look as well as parts that do not get extremely hot. Parts that get hot will smoke when dressed and give the idea that something is wrong.
- Clean the door jamb. This gets neglected when you take your car to the car wash or if you do it at home. From my experience as a detailer, some cars almost require a chisel to get the crud off. Try to use a chemical such as Simple Green and soak this area for a little bit. It will take a few attempts to wipe it all down, but this will give a great first impression when the door is first opened! Be sure to clean all of the Simple Green or other chemical entirely off.
- Vacuum your interior and seats. Do this very well. If you can not get everything off your floor or seat, try some duct tape. Do not vacuum your headliner! This will damage it.
- Wipe all moldings and dash. Get inside the vents, ashtray, between the seats, and inside any compartments available. This is the time to break out the toothbrush if needed.
- Clean the inside windows.
Making Repairs Prior to Selling Your Car
When it comes to making repairs prior to selling your car, it can get slightly tricky and not to mention expensive. This can cut into your profits. As we did above, here is a list of what to fix or how to make the decision on what to fix.
- Replace the headliner. For the do it yourselfer this is a easy task and may take a couple hours. The project for this should cost under $100 depending on the vehicle and may require 2 people at certain times. But overall this is a sound investment. Who wants to sit for a test drive and be bothered by sagging material?
- Change your oil. Give the new owner 3,000 miles of carefree worry.
- This could be mentioned with bullet 2 but take your car in and have it mildly serviced. Somewhere like Jiffy Lube can do a service for maybe $50 and they will top off your fluids, change your oil, and put air in your tires.
- Replace burnt out light bulbs and windshield wipers. These are both cheap and prove that your car is well maintained.
- Make sure you have decent tires and brakes. This is a safety issue and if you were to keep the car, you would fix it for yourself anyway. Prevent any liability and make sure there is at least 20% brakes and enough tread to get the owner through the next few months.
This is about as complete list as it gets. If you run into other items that cost $5 or $10, replace them. If you have many items to replace, check out your local junkyard. Most things that may need to be replaced are not a specific color and many makes or model will be interchangeable ( meaning one model’s parts will work on another car, like a firebird’s parts will work on a camaro or a Chevy ½ ton pick ups hood will work on a suburban of similar years).
Something to keep in mind though is the cost of what may need to be replaced and what kind of car you are selling. If you have a cracked windshield on a 1995 Honda Civic, leave it for the new owner to worry about. If you are selling a 2008 Mercedes and you have a cracked windshield, replace it as this car is much more sought after. You will really have to look at those kind of factors to see if it will make or break your profit. Not only that, but it can make the difference whether or not the car sells quickly as well. But we said we would make it easy so a quick rule of thumb would be to fix anything safety related and the more new and expensive the car is, the more inclined you should be to fix it.
That pretty much sums it up as far as trying to get the most value out of your car when you sell it. If at all possible, sell your car privately and do not trade it in. You may have to wait longer but you will get more for sure. Also, shop around for the price of your car at other dealerships and see what the going rate is. You may not be able to sell it for as much, but it will be a good starting point as you will get bargained down. And be sure to keep all parts that may have been swapped for nicer or higher performance parts as well as receipts for all repairs done. If you do all of these things listed above you are sure to get a nice return on your car and will be able to afford a nice down payment on next years model!