Just like selling your house, the cheapest way to add value to a car is to clean it thoroughly. Seems obvious, but we don’t always notice the grime on something we see every day. Also sprinkle baking soda on the carpets and cloth seats, then vacuum it up to remove odours you might not smell but potential buyers will. Arm & Hammer recommends waiting at least 15 minutes before turning on the vacuum, “or longer for strong odours.” If you’re a smoker, that can mean letting it sit overnight – and not smoking in the car for at least a week. You can scrub your floor mats, but if they still look bad, replace them. Clean out the glove box, removing everything but the owner’s manual. While you’re cleaning the windshield, make sure the windshield wipers are in good condition and that they function properly. If they don’t, it’s a sign that other parts of the vehicle may also have been neglected.
Make sure all the lights work. Do your headlights, taillights and brake lights work? How about the dome light (which illuminates the interior when you open the door)? Map lights? Do you have a vanity mirror that lights up? Your headlight covers can yellow with age. Instead of replacing the entire headlight, spend less than $20 on products like the 3M Headlight Restoration System. While they won’t make your headlights look like new, they’ll go a long way to clearing up the cloudiness. Plus, your headlights will shine brighter than before.
Knowledgeable buyers are not only going to check the oil level to make sure you have enough, but also whether it’s bright and clean – because long-term driving with low or old oil means years off the life of the engine. If necessary, top off the other fluids and like the windshield washer fluid (front and back).
If you paid for a car wash and the tires aren’t glistening, get out that box of baking soda. Add just enough water to make a paste, use a scrub brush to rub it in, and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse it off and marvel at the results. Also visit a petrol station to properly inflate those tyres.
The light could mean a costly problem, like a bad catalytic converter, or it could be something minor, like a loose petrol cap. Ask your trusted mechanic to diagnose the problem if the “check engine” light is on and make the needed repair.
Getting rid of scratches on a car’s finish isn’t easy. It’s so complicated that many mechanics develop a step-by-step guide. Forget about DIY dent repair. If you’re not adept at it, you could make the problem worse. If you have anything more than minor scratches and dings, take the car to an expert.
Neatly order the maintenance and repair invoices you had stashed in your glove box. Didn’t keep meticulous records of your repairs? Pay for a report yourself and show it off. These services are usually used by buyers who want to check a used car’s history of accidents, recalls and repairs, try carfacts.com.au
Now that your car looks and smells as nice as possible, it’s time to settle on an asking price. Don’t depend solely on Redbook. Check sites like eBay, Carsales and other online classified ads to see what cars like yours are fetching where you live. Always ask for more than you’ll settle for, as buyers love to negotiate.
Now you have to promote your vehicle. Carsales offers an incredibly detailed list of do’s and don’ts for writing an ad that can serve as your guide and they also offer 10 tips for writing an effective online ad for your car. One of those tips: Be honest about repairs.
Before you let a prospective buyer take a test drive, take yourself for a test drive and practice describing your car. When it comes to the test drive with the potential buyer you chauffeur them yourself at first. Emphasize the car’s features – fine leather, a smooth ride, excellent speakers. Without coming on too strong, let no selling point of your vehicle go unnoticed.