Preparing your car for sale properly is key to getting it sold quickly at a good price. Whether a buyer is looking at a picture of your car online or in person, you will only have a few moments to convince them to take a closer look. So whether you choose to sell to a “private party” through a listing on craigslist, opt to trade-in to a traditional dealer, or use a full car selling service like Shift, it’s important to make sure your car looks clean and well taken care of. Here are some tips to sell your car and (hopefully) increase it’s curb appeal:
1) Clean up your car
This car selling tip may seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many cars are put up for sale without proper cleaning. Here’s what a cleaning should entail:
- Wash & vacuum; wax is optional.
- Clear out all of your belongings. Your entire car and trunk should be empty.
- Wipe down your wheels, hubcaps and dashboard with car cleaning products so it looks new.
- Clean mirrors and windows inside and out.
- Wipe down leather seats with a leather cleaner.
2) Consider minor upgrades
Small upgrades may be easily worth the money. You’ll be surprised how many things can be upgraded for $20-$70 that may mean you can sell the car for hundreds more. This might mean new seat covers, floor mats, headlights, or steering wheel covers — anything that will make your car look newer and more attractive. Small investments can pay off big time.
3) Get your car checked by an ASE certified mechanic
C You’ll want to say with confidence and with a report that your car is running smoothly without any problems. This could make a huge difference for a buyer on the fence or a buyer trying to make a quick decision. It will also give you peace of mind to know this buyer isn’t going to come back a week later, fuming because something broke down or a warning light came on. You may also want to get a vehicle history report to show the buyer that the title is clean and the odometer reading is accurate.
4) Minor car repairs may be worth it
Aside from critical repairs that affect the car’s performance and mechanics, some minor repairs may be worth it when trying to maximize the sell price of your car.
Consider getting quotes to fix large, visible dents or scratches which can significantly lower the value of your car in the minds of buyers, particularly in very noticeable areas such as the door or hood. People are more likely to be okay with scratches and dents on less-obvious areas like the bumper.
Consider other highly visible items to repair. Is your headlight broken? Is there rust from scratches that makes the car look old and worn? These kind of visible fixes can make a big difference in how a buyer evaluates your car. Generally, non-visible repairs like new brakes or tires won’t make too much of a difference in the offer price.
5) Unique Upgrades & Modifications
Keep in mind that a sleek, expensive modification to your car may seem awesome to you, but may not be what a buyer is looking for. In many cases, you will not retain the value of expensive 3rd party modifications. You may even want to consider having the mods removed if you want a larger pool of interested buyers (sometimes you can sell the parts separately, too).
This is particularly important when trying to do a trade-in at a car dealer or getting it appraised by an online service like Shift. As dealers both buy and sells cars, it needs to consider the needs of the buyer and has to be able to vouch for the modification. Thus it is not uncommon for dealers to devalue modification or outright reject cars with too many serious modifications. You may feel like your modifications are great and installed well, but keep in mind that a dealer can’t guarantee its quality and performance so they may adjust your quote.
6) Vehicle Age & Mileage
You may not be able to take back or change the age or mileage of your car, but you can be sure to sell it at the right time. Do not underestimate the psychological power of numbers. The value of your car can depreciate significantly when it hits specific milestones such as 100,000 miles or 10 years of age. If your car is nearing certain milestones, consider reducing your use of the car and selling it sooner than later.
7) Paperwork is important
Having poor paperwork can really hurt car’s sale price as well as increase the hassle of the transaction. It’s important to gather and have all your maintenance records, your title, and lien release papers ready at the point of sale. Be sure to review your documents early and correct any issues before engaging a buyer. This way you don’t lose out on a sale or be negotiated down due to the extra hassle and wait.
If all of this seems like a lot of work or you find yourself too busy to go through the process, consider an all-in service such as Shift — they’ll pick up your car and handle everything (inspections, repairs, paperwork, car wash and sale). Good luck selling your car!