The clean and preen guide to selling a used car

Almost everyone you speak to right now is more budget-conscious than they’ve probably ever been.

With the decline in the economy and the threat of the country’s finances falling apart when Brexit (if it ever) happens there’s no real wonder. We’re all holding on a little bit tighter to what we’ve got and thinking much harder about when to save and when to spend.

If you’re putting your car on the market, there was once a list of jobs to carry out to increase its saleable value. We’d all like to squeeze a few more pounds out of our buyers, after all.

My ‘current-climate’ opinion on the matter, however, isn’t that sprucing up your car will add figures to the selling price. My thoughts are something else entirely, with shoppers being savvier than ever. There are so many cars to compare between, of the same age and mileage, that prices tend to be somewhat similar across the board.

I think the 2019/2020 reason to carry out those tidy up jobs is to add kerb appeal. If you can make your car the most attractive option of the bunch, hopefully, it should be the first one to sell.

1. Clean it. Thoroughly. Every inch. Inside and out.

If you can’t make it look like new, you can at least get it as close to new as possible. For those photographs that are going on Auto Trader, and especially when a potential buyer is coming to view the car, take every opportunity to provide a tip-top presentation.

  • A thorough wash and hand polish is a must.
  • Hoover the floor wells.
  • Polish the dash and all interior plastic. If it’s looking tired, your local auto-centre sells polish designed to bring it back to life and add a ‘just like new’ shine.
  • New floor-mats will cost less than £10 but will change the look of your interior significantly. It also gives the impression of a car that’s been well looked after, adding to customer confidence.
  • Use a rub on remedy for white bumper stains caused by an accumulation of wax on rubber and plastic parts.
  • Wash the upholstery. You’ll be amazed how much dirt comes out and how much brighter and cleaner the fabric of your interior will look.

When you use a strong-smelling polish, it promotes the idea that your vehicle has experienced constant care over its entire life. Your buyer won’t simply believe you’ve taken care of its appearance. They’ll assume you’ve done the same for the engine and the car’s mechanical performance.

Much like the smell of baking bread when you’re selling your house, the fresh smell of clean leather or a valet style polish can really work to your advantage.

Make your headlights sparkle

Here’s a nifty little trick. Your car headlights can be a giveaway on an older car. With daily use, they gather tiny scratches that will make the whole unit appear almost matt with the wear they’ve suffered over the years.

Spend half an hour with some T-Cut, and you’ll be amazed at how far back to that new showroom gleam you can take them. It doesn’t last forever, but it only needs to last until you’ve made the sale.

Transform your wheels to look like new

One of the strongest features we’re drawn to when choosing a new car is its wheels.

Steel wheels with a plastic cover scream ‘cheap’, whereas alloys suggest class and cost.

If your alloy wheels are old and tired, it doesn’t have to take too much effort to get them looking like new again.

Look into some basic alloy wheel refurbishment costs. There’s a garage that carries out alloy wheel refurbishment near me that carries out a simple rejuvenation for less than £100 a set. It adds more to your cars saleability than you’d think.

If you’re mechanically minded and capable of carrying out the work yourself, your total alloy wheel repair cost could be as little as that of a few cans of spray paint and a day of your time.

Polish out the scratches and sort out the bodywork

Over time an automatic carwash leaves tiny swirls and light scratches in your paintwork. It’s a small thing, but it ages your car significantly.

A couple of waxes with colour polish and a T-Cutting should lift these out and revive that tired paintwork.

If you can fill or polish out any other light scratches and small chips then do. Your auto-centre will have an array of special polishes, repair paints and varnishes to make them almost invisible.

You’ll also be surprised how many of the lesser dints you can carefully pull out with a plunger, or using the trick with hot water that you can find on YouTube.

For anything bigger, don’t risk making matters worse with a poor DIY attempt. Find a local bodywork garage and see if there’s value in having a professional repair carried out.

Using Fixter’s database, I uncovered a great garage that carries out bodywork and alloy wheel repair near me. Compared to the dealership and franchise prices that aren’t cost-effective, a company like them would keep you within budget.

Take high-quality photographs

When you’re all done, and your car looks so good you’re wondering why you wanted to sell it in the first place, don’t waste all that effort on shoddy photography.

Take your pictures when the sun is out, and the colours are bright. Use that extra feel-good factor to add to the psychology of selling. Nobody wants to imagine driving a new car on a grey day or when it’s raining. Sell the sizzle, not the sausage as they say.

If you take your photos from a position low to the ground, it makes your subject look more imposing and powerful. It’s a great trick when selling a car. Play with perspective to make your pictures look superior and stronger than the same model of car shot from above.

Sell it like a salesman

Nobody buys bull, but having the facts and figures at hand when speaking to your potential buyers will give them confidence.

Have the paperwork ready. Let them know the recent repairs and upgrades you’ve carried out. It will make your buyer think that there won’t be any work to do if you appear to have kept on top of repairs and maintenance.

About Fixter

Fixter is revolutionising the car maintenance industry, one repair at a time. Fixter was founded to make car maintenance as easy as booking a taxi. Digital, transparent and stress-free, with world-class customer service. Since launching in Manchester in 2017, Fixter has expanded to more than 100 cities across the UK and provided thousands of car owners with honest, convenient and affordable car repair services.