How to prepare your car for sale

cleaining-car-interiorWhen it comes to selling a car, it will take a lot more than simply slapping a ‘for sale’ sign on it and parking it out on a busy road. The main way buyers find their next vehicle these days is by searching online first. Whether you’re selling online, through a dealer or privately, in order to get the best possible price and sell your car as quickly as possible, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure it is best prepared for sale.

Clean the exterior

As a starting point when selling a car, give the outside a clean. A simple wash will remove all the dirt and help it look presentable, but to add real value and make it attractive it’s best to use professional cleaning products rather than just soap and water. Use plastic restorers on the trim to refresh its look, and if the paint is faded in certain areas or all over, wax and polish to add that shine and get it back to looking as desirable. For owners of more expensive vehicles, it may be advisable to enlist the services of professional cleaners.

And interior

It’s likely any potential buyer will want to take your car for a test drive, so ensure the cabin is clean and clear too. Vacuum everywhere, replace any damaged floor mats and wipe down the dashboard. All leather will need to be cleaned and treated right too, as that fresh smell can really help entice a buyer. Finally, it is essential that the inside (and outside) of all windows are cleaned until they sparkle, as this can be the difference between a typical used car and one that genuinely looks as good as new. Our recent social media competition invited our followers to submit their best car cleaning tips. Have a look at them here.

Fix the bodywork

All bodywork scuffs and scrapes should be fixed before trying to sell your car. Certain areas of damage can be easily fixed yourself, such as scratches and chips, with one of the many repair kits available from DIY and hardware stores. Other issues, such as dents, should be repaired by professionals. Even though this will cost more, it should add extra value to the vehicle and ensure buyers cannot negotiate down on the price by taking on such repairs themselves.

Take quality photographs

Once your car is in a presentable condition, clean and repaired, the next step is to take a few good quality photographs of it. These will be used to advertise it, whether online, independently, through a dealer or local listings, so need to be good quality. Enlist the services of a friend or family member who is skilled with photography and owns a decent quality camera. Be sure to get as many angles as possible, both inside and out, to really help sell your car.

Collect the paperwork


Any potential buyer should ask to see the car’s service history to feel safe in the knowledge that it’s not going to break down or require costly repairs. Find all maintenance, repair and MOT records so you have them on hand should a buyer ask about them. In the event of a successful sale you will also need other essential documents including a V5C, vehicle registration, any financial information and the car’s manuals. It all shows the car is legally owned and how it has been looked after.

Research pricing

Don’t fall into the trap of over or underselling your car, as it could lead to zero interest in the vehicle or you losing out financially. Browse listings online to find the same car of a similar age and work out the average going rate for it. Receive a free car valuation online or, if you’re thinking of selling to a dealer, pay them a visit for an appraisal. You can always use their offer as a base for the minimum amount you should be accepting if you then decide to sell privately.

Create your advert

Finally, when your car is in top condition, you have some great photos and a realistic price in mind, the last preparation step is to get it up for sale. Wherever you are selling a car, the advert must be composed of text and imagery that really sells it. Highlight its best features, include all accurate details such as mileage, age, any damage and other areas like acceptable payment methods, as you don’t want to waste buyers’ time. Try to keep it concise but with all necessary information included, and get it proofread by someone before putting it online or sending to the paper.

Follow these preparation steps and you should have no problem when you want to sell your car.

Image courtesy of iStock.


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