Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Best tips for preparing your car for sale

Make the effort to get your car ready for sale and you could reap the reward of a higher price. It doesn't take much and you could be surprised by the result.

First impressions count

First impressions are all-important when you're trying to sell something, whatever it might be.

It's why real estate agents have fresh brewed coffee and freshly baked bread in houses they're showing to prospective buyers. In the new car business they call it showroom appeal, the impact a car has on a potential buyer when they first walk into the showroom.

Impress them at that moment and you're off to a flying start in selling them the car.

It's the same when selling a used car. Impress the prospective buyer when they walk down your driveway and see the car for the first time and you've got a better chance of making a sale.

Think like a buyer

As a buyer we know what we want, that's the best possible price, but put yourself in the buyer's shoes and you improve your chances of getting it.

Closely inspect the car from all angles. Look at it from a distance, examine it up close, and sit inside it, all the time taking note of anything that might put off a prospective buyer.

Note things such as stone chips and scratches in the paint, scuff marks on the trim, and heel marks in the carpet. They all detract from a car's appeal, and you might think about having them fixed before offering it for sale.

To repair or not to repair

Repairing scratched and chipped paint can have a huge affect on a car's appeal, having small dents removed can have a similar affect.

It's not that hard to do. There are companies and tradespeople who will come to your home or workplace and do it for you, and it won't necessarily cost the Earth.

Open the bonnet and look around the engine for oil or coolant leaks, and consider having them fixed. A clean engine can make a huge impression.

Freshen it up

Once you've decided to move your car on start preparing it for sale, don't wait until the last minute when you'll have to rush to get it ready.

It can take time to give your car a pleasant odor, so start by using an air freshener a week or two before you plan to put your car on the market.

Clean your car

Wash your car to remove all dirt and other deposits from the painted surface.

A cut and polish can bring up the shine.

Clean the windows, inside and out, so they sparkle.

Don't forget the door jams, they're the first things seen when you open the doors.

Clean up the cabin

A smelly, untidy cabin is an immediate turn-off for anyone looking to buy your car. It says you don't care.

Remove the floor mats and vacuum out the whole interior, and vacuum and clean the mats.

Clean the seats, door trims and dash. The dash is particularly important because it's the thing you see most when you sit in the driver's seat.

Don't forget to clean under the seats, and remove anything you find under there. It could roll around and rattle on a test drive.

Don't leave anything in the car

Empty all storage pockets, consoles, ashtrays and glove boxes of any loose items that might rattle or cause a noise when the potential buyer is test-driving the car.

The only things that should be in the glove box are the owner's manual and service book. Make sure the service book is up to date so you can show the prospective buyer you have cared for the car.

If you've got receipts for work done, or parts bought, like batteries and tyres, have them available to show the buyer.

Don't forget the boot

Tidy up the boot. Remove everything that doesn't belong there, you don't want anything rattling around to distract a potential buyer while on a test drive.

But make sure the spare tyre is in place and securely stowed so it can't rattle around.

Also make sure the jack and all the tools that originally came with the car are there and securely stowed.

When you've tidied it up vacuum it out.

Get it detailed

If you don't have the time or the inclination to do it yourself, have it professionally detailed. It only costs a few hundred dollars and it could add thousands to the sale price.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Top tips to maximise your resale value

PLUS: Top tips for keeping your car roadworthy