If you’ve ever hunted for a used car, you’ll know that prices can range significantly for cars that are the same model and year. There are lots of reasons for some of the differences, including the odometer reading, the trim level of the car, customization (which can add or subtract from the final selling price, depending on the popularity of the customization) and its overall condition.
But arriving at the final price for a used car gets more complicated than simply how old it is and how many kilometres it’s been driven, although those two points are the largest price factors. No matter what price you ask for the car, you can rest assured that potential buyers will try to bargain you down.
However, there are ways to make your car more appealing than other similar vehicles on the market. They may not be anything you can list in an ad, but when a buyer shows up to look at the car, they’ll be more impressed and more likely to at least make an offer that’s closer to what you’re hoping to get for the car.
1. Wash & Wax the Car
If it seems obvious, you’d be surprised at how many car sellers don’t even wash their car before putting it on the market. Waxing brings out the colour and shine of the paint in ways that just washing doesn’t.
2. Clean the Engine
If the wash and wax seem obvious, very few owners think to clean the engine. It’s a dirty grimy place anyway, right? But imagine the impression it makes when, after asking to look at the engine, as the vast majority of buyers do, they open the hood to a gleaming power plant.
3. Restore Plastic Headlight Covers
If there is anything that says ‘this car is old’ it’s the cloudy film that forms on the protective covering of your headlights. Automotive products retailers will have cleaners that get rid of the film and make the entire front of your car look newer.
4. Check the Tires
This one might get a little costly, but another thing that most buyers check is the tires. If they are worn, you can expect lower offers. One option for replacement is to try used tires, particularly from a well-known and respected brand.
5. Check the Dashboard Lights
If there are any warning lights that remain lit after the car is started, take care of the problem before putting it up for sale.
6. Clean the Interior
From salt and mud in the foot wells, to finger prints on the dashboard, they will all be noticed, and reduce the value of your car, because potential buyers are bound to get into the vehicle and take it for a test drive. Using an interior surface protectant can make your dashboard and door panels look much newer.
7. Repair Larger Scratches and Dents
Repairing large scratches and dents may cost a little extra, but it’s not the same as getting major auto body repair. Get a few quotes from collision repair shops to go over the car and repair what they can do without painting. This is especially valuable if you have more than a few ‘dings’ on your car. And if you have a windshield chip, get that repaired too.
8. Get Your Paperwork Together
Gather as many service and repair receipts as you can. If you don’t have many, call your mechanic and ask for copies. It’s another unexpected bonus for buyers when they can plainly see that the car has been well maintained.
Of course, you could completely restore your car to ‘like new’ condition to maximize its value, but that’ll maximize your costs too – and then you’d probably not want to sell your car anyway!