How to Prepare Your Car for Sale- 12 Expert Tips

How to Prepare Your Car for Sale- 12 Expert Tips

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Regardless of whether you intend to sell your car to a private party or a dealer, you MUST take the time to properly prepare it in order to obtain the highest possible price.

This includes cleaning the interior and exterior of the vehicle, as well as attending to minor repairs and blemishes.

This can easily result in an additional $2,000 in your pocket.

1. Get your car Inspection done

Mechanical Inspection as the first step

If you’re truly thorough and intend to sell the vehicle to a private party, the first step should be to take it to a mechanic for a thorough inspection. 

This typically costs between $100 and $150 – but ensure that they spend at least an hour in the vehicle.

If your vehicle requires costly repairs, you will be notified. Regrettably, you may discover that your car is not as valuable as you thought.

Additionally, you’ll be one step ahead of the buyer.

Most buyers will request an inspection regardless, and if you are candid about the issues up front, you will earn the buyer’s trust.

If the buyer chooses to inspect the vehicle themselves, their list of recommended repairs may differ from yours, so it’s beneficial to show them the results of your inspection.

Is it worth selling car privately

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2. Gather Car Records

Gather all of your maintenance slips and records in one folder. 

Any additional oil changes or services must be recorded.

If you’re missing any, contact the service centres and request a copy; most will do so for free, but some may charge a small fee.

Maintain all of your receipts for money you’ve spent on auto maintenance over the years, which you should have done, and make sure they’re all in one place and neatly organised so you can present them to any prospective buyer along with the service history, title, and other documentation.

Some people are anxious that if they display a receipt for anything substantial that has been done on their automobile to someone who is interested in purchasing it, the potential buyer may become apprehensive that the car may have further problems. 

However, I believe it is more beneficial to demonstrate that you have been prepared to spend money where it is required to keep the car in good shape than than to make a logical argument. 

Things do go wrong with automobiles from time to time; it’s just an aspect of everyday life. 

The most important thing is how you deal with problems, and being able to demonstrate that you’ve been prepared to spend the necessary money to get things corrected can only help you sell a vehicle more quickly.

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3. Get your car pro-cleaned

This is the critical step. Assure that your vehicle is impeccably clean both inside and out. 

Spend around $100 or so for deep cleaning your vehicle.Studies suggest, buyers will believe you took good care of the car as long as it appears to be in good condition. Take advantage of this.

If you keep your vehicle in a garage on a regular basis, it may be prudent to have it professionally detailed. 

Typically, this will cost around $120-$200 depending on where you live..

Alternatively, you can wash and wax your vehicle at home. Additionally, empty the interior and trunk of the vehicle. Examine every nook and cranny.

Clean both the inside and outside windows.

Ensure that all upholstery is clean and, if possible, remove any stains. Sticky tape works wonders for removing dog hair from difficult-to-reach areas. 

If your vehicle has visible damage or wear (such as a cracked windshield, worn tyres, or a broken tail light), it’s best to repair or replace them before attempting to sell it.

If you have minor surface damage, such as scratches or chips in the paint, it is best to attempt to repair it.

Avoid repainting your vehicle, as most buyers will believe it was involved in an accident.

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4. Find out your car’s Worth

The next step is to determine the market value of your vehicle.

You can begin by consulting pricing guides, but as we previously stated, you should not rely on them for anything more than a rough estimate.

What you need to do is visit car classifieds websites like Craigslist (search for “cars+trucks by owner”),, and (Make sure you select listings by owner).

Locate a few cars in your neighbourhood that are similar to yours and contact the owner with the following questions:

  • How is the vehicle’s condition?
  • What additional features does it offer?
  • Has it ever been involved in a collision?
    Is it smoked in?
  • Do you have complete records of maintenance?
  • Are you the original owner of the property?
  • Following that, offer them 20% to 25% less than their asking price to determine if they’re willing to sell at that price.

Then, watch some of dealer listings for vehicles that are similar to yours in terms of mileage and trim style.

You can estimate that a realistic selling price will be 10% to 20% less than their asking price.

This provides you with an accurate estimate of the retail value of your vehicle.

The optimal strategy is to price your vehicle in the range between private party and retail prices.

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5. Prepare for the Ad( if your selling car privately)

If you’re considering selling your car, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is how you’ll sell it.

we  have already discussed how selling privately on your own often results in a higher price than trading it in or selling to a dealership.

The next step is to decide where do you want to advertise( selling provately)

There are many ways you can advertise your sale of the car.

One of the useful are facebook marketplace and Gumtree.

We recently sold our car on Gum tree and we got a good price and a genuine buyer.

6. Prepare for Dealing with Buyers

This is the most difficult part of selling your car – interacting with the general public!

There will be shoppers who attempt to undercut you, those who fail to keep appointments, and those who lack common sense and manners.

The following are the most common scenarios you’ll encounter and the appropriate responses:

1. If they enquire about your rock bottom price, simply inform them that you have not yet established one. 

Inform them that there are a few interested parties and that you are confident you can agree on a price with one of them.

Inform them that you’ve conducted extensive research and believe the asking price is reasonable, and then counter offer by knocking a few hundred dollars off the asking price.

2. If they immediately make a low-ball offer This is a strategy many buyers employ in the hope that you will be desperate enough to accept it.

Simply counter offer with a price that is slightly less than your asking price and remind them of your car’s primary benefits (non-smoking, clean, well maintained, etc.)

3. If they refuse to budge on their offer

Try the old salesman’s trick of telling them you have someone coming by in the morning to look at the car and that they offered $500 more for it.

Let them know that if they make you a good offer, you’d rather do the deal today and be done with it. This could work like a charm!

4. If they are offended by your lack of bargaining
Inquire about what they believe a reasonable price for the vehicle would be.

If they lowball you again, thank them for coming by but tell them you’re confident someone else will pay what the car is worth.

5. If they make a counter-offer that is slightly lower than your rock-bottom price.
Offer your lowest price and tell them it’s the absolute lowest you’ll go.

After you’ve finished negotiating, you should be left with a price that is significantly higher than what any dealer would have offered. 

When you consider the amount of money saved, most people believe that the hassle of selling their vehicle to a private party is well worth the effort.

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7. Make it smell good.

So you’ve had the vehicle professionally detailed, and all of the bodywork damage issues have been resolved.

However, there is a terrible odour when you open the door and climb inside. 

It’s possible that the vehicle was smoked in, that it had a dog in it on a regular basis, or that there was a leak that allowed water in, causing damp in the fabrics.

A bad odour isn’t as bad as serious bodywork damage or an interior that looks like a landfill garbage dump, but it won’t help. 

When you’re trying to sell your car, don’t underestimate the power of a bad odour. If it isn’t horrendous, it may not have a negative impact on the price.

8. A quick note about tyres and rims

If you have a luxury car that is a few years old and requires replacement of seriously worn tyres, it may be worthwhile to consider installing a whole new set of tyres and alloy wheels before selling it.

That may appear to be a needless expense, but bear with me.

It may not work on a mass-market car, but if you have an Audi or a BMW in need of new tyres and the alloys are quite scuffed, it may be just as inexpensive to purchase and instal a pair of cheap tyres and new alloy wheels as it is to instal high quality rubber alone. 

If you search online, you’ll discover a plethora of businesses on eBay and elsewhere that sell inexpensive sets of alloy wheels with tyres that will fulfil the buyer’s preoccupation with new tyres while also providing you with alloy wheels that are free of scrapes, scuffs, and other damage.

To be clear, I would not do this if I kept a car since I always put on high-quality tyres. 

However, if you’re selling your vehicle and will need to replace the tyres, this option may help you sell quickly and for a decent price.

9. Additional minor modifications may yield benefits.

There are a few additional little modifications you may do that will not cost you an arm and a leg and will benefit your selling efforts. 

Examine the interior of your car.

Are your floor mats worn and unclean, is your steering wheel or shift knob worn, and do your seats appear to be far beyond their prime? 

You can get seat, steering wheel, or shifter covers for as little as a few dollars, and a new set of mats will not break the bank too.

They don’t have to be completely customised to that particular model, but having some that fit reasonably well will improve the appearance and feel of a weary interior and make it simpler to sell. 

If you own a somewhat costly luxury car such as a Mercedes,  or a BMW, it may be prudent to purchase the genuine parts, but only if the wear is severe and immediate action is required.

10. Try & Make an Effort  to Sell Locally

If you’re selling a car that isn’t very unusual or unique, you may want to be suspicious of any potential buyers from out of state. 

It’s  uncommon for someone on the opposite side of the nation to be interested in a 5-year-old Honda with above-average mileage.

Out of state inquires aren’t always scams, but if you’re selling an average automobile, you should be on the lookout for them.

11. Sell from Your Own Home , avoid parking lots !!

Always try to sell your vehicle from home, and make sure that buyers who come to look at the vehicle you have for sale are aware that it is your home. 

There are many scammers on eBay and elsewhere who sell from parking lots and other anonymous locations. 

Make sure you  avoid being scammed as a buyer, so make sure you demonstrate that you are a genuine seller by being open and honest with potential buyers and meeting them at your home.

12. Take High-Quality Photos of your car

Consider the last time you looked for a used car on the internet or in a magazine. 

Consider the ones you scrolled past without bothering to read the details on, and then consider what motivates you to look into them further.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are drawn to beautiful images.

If you upload a couple of dull, slightly blurred images to your listing, you might as well throw your money away. 

You don’t have to be a trained psychologist to recognise that poor quality images will severely limit the number of people who will be interested in the car you’re selling.

13. Fundamental or the basic upkeep is a must.

Before showing your vehicle to anyone interested in purchasing it, and especially before allowing them to test drive it, make sure all of the basic little jobs you can do yourself have been completed.

I’m talking about things like making sure the windshield washer fluid reservoir is full, the oil is full, the tyres are properly inflated, the battery is charged, and the engine is reasonably clean.

However, do not attempt to steam clean the engine.

A thorough wipe with a cloth is sufficient, but pressure-washing an engine can severely damage electrical systems and raise concerns with a potential buyer if it appears overly clean.



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