The market value of your car and how much someone is actually prepared to pay can be a very different number. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to your vehicle to help maximise profit. Here are the top 10 things you can do to your car before you sell it.
1. Clean it
Even if it means taking your car to a professional car washing business, it is extremely important to have your car looking its absolute best. This means detail the interior and remove all rubbish and little nicknacks that don't come with the car, and clean up the exterior. It might cost you anywhere from $20 to $80, but it's well worth it. As a final touch give the tyres a dash of tyre shine. You can buy a can of it for $2 at some stores and it will make a significant difference in the presentation of your car.
2. Service update
Keeping your car serviced is always a good idea, but it's especially good if you're about to sell it. Every customer will appreciate seeing a recent service receipt, which means, theoretically, they shouldn't have to fork out for repairs or servicing for a while. It might seem like a waste of money at first, considering you are going to sell it anyway, but put it this way, if you were looking at two different cars and one was serviced and one wasn't, which one would you buy? Exactly.
3. Take good photos
If you're placing your car on a classifieds website, which is something you should be doing, make sure you take nice photos of the car. No more than 10 photos are needed, and don't bother trying to get fancy. Instead, just keep it simple; one 'main' photo of the front-side, a rear-side, side, other side, engine bay, boot, front seats, rear seats, and maybe one of the dash. Make sure they are clear and not too dark and not overly bright, preferably without shadows covering sections of the car. When buyers are scrolling down the list and notice a good clean car that stands out with good clean images, they are more likely to click through to yours.
4. Write a good ad
Again, if you're placing your car onto some kind of classifieds, practice your writing skills so you can prepare a decent ad. The text doesn't have to be long. It just needs to give the reader an idea about the car and its history. Try to stay positive too; 'it's been a great car for me'. Be careful not to reveal too many details though otherwise they might not have any reason to call you to ask about things.
5. Renew registration
The best time to sell your car is pretty soon after you've renewed the registration. If it has 10 or 11 months rego, it will stand out, sell quick, and get you the best price. It might seem like a waste of money at first but it will pay off. Buyers are looking for cars that they can simply jump in and drive. If the rego is new it not only means the owner won't need to fork out for additional costs in a few weeks, it means it has also passed roadworthy tests and should be in decent condition.
6. Get an inspection reference
If you want to sell your car really quick it might be worth getting a mechanic to give the car an inspection and write up some kind of reference for it. Buyers will jump straight in if they know it's been checked over by a qualified third party. This shouldn't cost too much either. Ring around a few garages and get a quote to compare.
7. Make sure there are no leaks
If you park your car in the same spot every day and you can see an oil stain on the ground, get a mechanic to inspect the area where the stain is to make sure there are no obvious leaks. The last thing a customer wants to see is a fresh oil stain on the ground. Once fixed, consider parking the car in a different, cleaner spot when potential buyers come to look at it. Having a dirty slate underneath gives the buyer bargaining chips.
8. Seat covers
If your seats, or seat covers for that matter, are of shabby quality or appearance, a set of fresh seat covers will give your interior an instant healthy look. As a tip, don't go for fancy ones with patterns on them or logos. Going for plain patterns and mono-tones will work best. Grey or black is usually a good idea. You don't want the covers to stand out, you only want them to blend in and potentially hide some scuffs and minor tears. It's best to make sure they are fitted nice and tight too, with no straps or overhanging material - all that will do is attract the buyer's attention and get them questioning why they are on in the first place.
9. Minor repairs
Are there any badges or minor trimming pieces missing? Obvious pieces that are broken like an air-con control knob or window winder are usually a cheap part from your local wreckers. If the badge is torn off the front or if there are trimmings half torn off on the sides, consider checking with your wrecker to see if they have any in stock. You'll be surprised by how cheap parts can be and how refreshing and simple a quick touch-up can look.
10. Set a realistic price, do your research, be confident
Lastly, set your goal price in mind and stick to it. If a buyer persists in trying to haggle you down, present them with some facts and show them that you have looked around and that you know the market to some degree. Being confident is also important. Some buyers will try and push you around and point out little details to try and get the price down. If you're confident you know what your car is worth, stick to it. You have the upper hand if you're not desperate to sell your car as well. Although it might not seem a good idea to be relaxed, as if you don't mind if your car sells or not, you will find it will sell quicker. If the buyer sees that you're actually quite fond of your car they will be even more enticed to buy it.