Reselling your car can be a tricky business. Without any know-how or prior experience, it can be a scary situation to be in. After all, both buyers and sellers want the best deal, and that can be a tricky relationship to navigate.
For sellers, the key to getting a good deal is simple — to do your homework and put in the preparation work. Not only will this boost the potential value of your preloved car, but it also prevents you from selling yourself short. No one wants to end up selling their vehicle for less than they could have!
To help you avoid that scenario, here are 4 important steps to take when preparing to sell your car. From car mats to check out to paperwork tips, we hope this article comes in handy for you. They may seem easy, but rest assured that these simple steps will work wonders to help increase the resale value of your car and prevent you from having to take a loss.
1. Clean up your car
If you put yourself in the shoes of the buyer, there’s no doubt that the perceived value of a clean car is automatically much higher than one that is dirty. While this step may sound obvious, many people actually choose to skip this step due to laziness — and hence skip out on some extra value their car could have fetched.
No doubt it can be a tedious job, but cleaning up both the interior and exterior sections of the car is a guaranteed way to impress prospective buyers from the get-go. For the interior, a protip is to look carefully under the seats and in the trunk for any personal items. You’d be surprised at how many people accidentally leave keys or phones in there! Use a vacuum for the floor and for in between the seats to leave them dust-free. Additionally, investing in good car mats for your vehicle early will not only protect it from wear but help increase its saleability too.
You may also want to clear the engine bay too, as most, if not all buyers will request to take a look before sealing the deal. To do this, you may need some supplies and protective gear. Start by letting the car cool down overnight or at least for three to six hours. Then, disconnect the battery and wrap electrical parts with plastic before brushing, washing and vacuuming the engine. At the end of it, you should use a towel to wipe everything up to keep it nice and dry.
2. Sell at the best times
Before we go into detail, this tip is actually most useful for those who aren’t on a very tight timeline to sell the car. As such, if you just decided to sell, it’s best to start preparing early so you have the flexibility to choose the best times to put the car on the market and not have to rush the process.
If you’re putting your car on the market on your own by listing it online or in a printed advertisement, do pay attention to the resale car market, not just in general, but also for the specific make and model of your car. Some models tend to do better than others, such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Mazda that are proven to be popular for resale with high demand. Once you’ve determined that the market is suitable, remember to put up a good listing! It should be complete with a great header picture, multiple shots of the car from different angles, and a thorough description.
For those who plan to sell at a dealership, one of the best tricks of the trade is to go down to the dealer during off-peak hours. Chances are that the dealer will have more time to evaluate and pay attention to your car. Moreover, with lesser cars coming in during peak hour, your beloved car won’t have to face as much competition to secure a slot.
3. Fix underlying issues first
If the condition of the car you want to sell is less-than-ideal, it can be tempting to cover it up and sell it without fixing it to save costs. Well, the fact is that you might be able to save on the cost of fixing your car, but you will certainly lose out on the sale. Most cars that have issues sell for way less than cars in good condition, and the difference can be even bigger than the cost of fixing it from the start.
It’s generally good advice to fix up and repair your car before trying to resell it. This extends not just to engine problems, but also issues with air conditioning, heating, brakes and battery. Patchy tyres may be often overlooked in your initial assessment, but note that buyers tend to look at the first to judge the condition of the car. As such, do make sure that your tyres are in good condition with tread.
If you’re worried about missing something and want to avoid any unwelcome surprises, it’s best to look for a mechanic to service your car professionally, and to replace any bits that are falling apart. They’ll also be able to inspect places that may be difficult for novices to get to, such as air filters and brake fluid.
4. Prepare the paperwork in advance
Once you’re certain that the car is in excellent, roadworthy condition, you’re ready to sell. At this point, it’s crucial that you have all your paperwork ready at hand for the buyer to inspect. If there’s anything missing or out of order, there’s a good chance they may ask for a lower selling price.
For this, more is more. Retrieve and collect everything there is to know about the car, including a record of servicing, warranty, proof of ownership, registration validity and other finance-related documentation. On top of documentation relating to the car itself, you may also need to provide other documentation like your state of residence and your vehicle ownership history. The rule of thumb is that the more information you can provide, the more legitimate your transaction will feel to the buyer, and the more they will be likely to pay. If you’re still not sure about what else you need, check with your dealer or mechanic.
With these four simple steps in your checklist, you’re now more prepared to put your car on the resale market and have it fetch a higher price. In essence, if you’re ever in doubt, just imagine yourself as the buyer and what you would want from a resale car. You can never go wrong with a clean and roadworthy vehicle!