Whether you’re trading in your old car or just selling, there are some simple ways you can prepare your car to sell at a dealership that make that can either add to the value or improve the chances of it being sold.
While we concentrate on trading in or selling your car to a dealership, these fixes will also be relevant if you’re selling your car privately too.
The idea is to prepare your car so it looks as though it’s ready to resell. A dealership is looking for a fast turnaround and minimal reconditioning between buying your car and selling it.
The the more you prepare your car to sell at a dealership, the more they will offer and the more likely they will be to buy it.
Clean the car inside and out
Nothing makes a bad impression like a dirty car. Simply put, the best way to prepare your car to sell at a dealership is to make sure it’s clean. That doesn’t mean an expensive valet or detail but a good clean so it looks its best.
Spend a couple of hours cleaning the inside and out, add a layer of wax on the exterior to make it shine. Then clear out all the trash and detritus from the interior and generally make it look as good as it can.
Check all lights
Lights that don’t work or blown turn signal bulbs are a sign that a car hasn’t been cared for. While it may not reduce the offer, it may make the appraiser think carefully about the rest of the car.
A new headlight bulb or turn signal bulb costs just a few dollars and can be changed in minutes, yet it can make a huge difference to the overall impression made by the car.
If you have foggy headlamps, you could clean them up as much as possible and use toothpaste and a cloth or buffer addon for a hand drill to reduce it as much as you can.
Check all pipes and fluids
Make sure your oil, coolant, wiper fluid, brake fluid and transmission fluid are all topped up. It’s another small thing that shows a car has been looked after and that it has been cared for.
Again, it won’t necessarily make any difference to the offer but it may make the appraiser more amenable to buying it.
The same for pipes around the engine. Check for cracks and splits and make sure the engine bay looks as good as it can. Change any cracked pipes if you can. They are cheap and should only take minutes, depending on which pipe it is!
Touch up scratches and dings
If your car has small scratches or dings in the paintwork, buy a paint pen or touch-up paint and tidy it up. This can make all the difference to the appeal of a car and can make a difference to the value offered.
You can buy touch-up paint for your specific body colour from a dealership or online for less than $20. Application is easy, clean the car, don’t wax it, apply the paint, allow to dry, touch up anything you missed and you’re done!
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