How to prepare your car for sale

Whether you're trading your car in for a new one, or are just getting rid of it, you'll get a better deal if it looks great and all the paperwork is in order...

How to prepare your car for sale

Getting your car looking its best before your show it to a potential buyer – whether a private individual or a dealer – will help you sell it as quickly as possible and for the best price.

Apart from looking more attractive, a clean car sends out a good message about how well the car has been cared for. There are several things you can do to make it look more appealing.

Clean your car

You can give your car a 'forecourt' look by using the professional cleaning products that garages use. Don't be tempted to use washing up liquid or household cleaners instead because they could harm paintwork.

Cleaning car seat

Plastic restorers are especially effective in rejuvenating a tired car, both inside and out. And, if you've had the dog in there, borrow a powerful vacuum to get rid of the hair, and put in an air freshener to banish unattractive smells.

Valeting is a competitive business in the UK, so you get a lot for your money. Spending between £15 and £50 on a full valet will be cost-effective if it results in an immediate sale and prevents you having to re-advertise the car.

Simple DIY checks

Don't steam-clean the engine bay;  as well as raising buyers' suspicions about why it’s been cleaned, you could also damage the electrics. Do get rid of leaves and cobwebs, though, and wipe off any marks when the engine is cold. Topping up the engine oil is a good idea, too, as is filling up the windscreen washer and coolant bottles. Find out more in our guide on how to care for your car.

Car dent repair

Bodywork repairs

If your car is fairly new, it's worth getting small dents and scratches removed, but they're to be expected on older vehicles so you're unlikely to recover the cost of getting professionals to put them right.

Dealers, in particular, won't bat an eyelid at the odd tiny dink because they can get any obvious ones repaired in their own body shop.

The paperwork

Collect together all the relevant paperwork for your car, including the V5C registration document, service book and MoT certificates. If you have receipts for work you’ve had done on your car, so much the better – it'll show that you've attended to problems as necessary, and that you're particular enough to retain the evidence.

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