How to Prepare Your Used Car to Get the Most Money
Selling a car might sound like an easy thing to do. Especially if you think that all you need to do is is park it on a corner with a for-sale sign in the window.
Unfortunately, this technique is not the most effective and lucrative way to sell a car in San Diego.
In reality, there are three ways to sell a car: do it yourself, hire a service to do it for you, or sell it off to a dealership. First you need to determine if selling your car is the most appropriate option. Sometimes you just want the car off your property – if you’re like me, you may run some vehicles into the ground because you just don’t want to buy another one. In those cases you may need help to junk your car.
With the proper preparation, you can sell a car for a great price.
If you plan to sell your car for top dollar, these steps will help:
Clean it up inside and out
It is no secret that a dirty car will not sell for as much as a clean car.
You can clean the car yourself or take it to a detailer. If you smoke or you have your pets in the car regularly, then we recommend taking the car to a detailer because the professional will be able to thoroughly clean the upholstery and other interior features to get rid of smells and other grime.
A detailer will be able to get the small spaces of the car clean on the inside and outside so the car looks as good as new.
If you want to get top dollar selling your car, we also recommend cleaning the engine, the engine compartment, and the trunk, too.
A thoroughly cleaned car will command more money than a car that smells like wet dog, has trash in the trunk, and has wheels covered with brake dust.
Make it look like it never was driven
It is a good idea to get the car looking like it never came off of a new car lot.
Any chips in the windshield should be repaired. If there are “door dings,” you can also consider getting those repaired, especially because they are usually rather inexpensive to pull out.
If you have damage to the interior, like cigarette burns, then you might want to look into the cost to repair those. Of course, the cost of repairing blemishes must be less than the return you will get.
Consider the aftermarket features
If you have any aftermarket features that might turn away buyers, it is best to remove those.
Loud exhaust systems, low-profile tires, overly tinted windows, and specialty suspensions reduce the value of a used car because buyers will assume that the car was not driven lightly.
Safety features, like a keyless entry or a backup camera, will draw buyers and should be left in place.
Get a thorough inspection
Finally, your car’s engine, suspension, exhaust, and other vital parts should be checked by a licensed mechanic.
An unbiased mechanic’s inspection report can inspire confidence in buyers, especially if you have documentation to show that you got regular oil changes and the recommended maintenance procedures.
Keep these reports in a folder in the car so you can show them to prospective buyers. Also, keep a copy of the records in your home, just in case.
Get a Carfax report
You can even order a Carfax report to show buyers that the car is a safe and reliable vehicle.
Carfax reports are not free, but they help the buyer recognize that you are an honest seller.
Having a complete record of your car’s history is a good selling tool because buyers recognize that you have taken good care of the car they might buy.
Be sure you have the title
Along with a Carfax report, a mechanic’s inspection report, and your car’s maintenance history, you also want to be sure you have the title of the car.
If you do not, then it is best to order that as soon as possible from the DMV. You will have to pay a fee for a duplicate title and complete a form. If you are still paying for your car, then we recommend talking to a representative from your bank about how to access the title once the loan on the car is paid.
How to determine the value of your car
Prior to selling your car quickly or for a top price, it is helpful to know how to value the car.
There are several different resources that you can use. A professional appraiser is a good service to use if you are trying to sell a unique car like a vintage car or a specialty sportscar. If you are selling a typical car that you would find on a lot, then an online tool like Kelley Blue Book, NADA, or Edmunds.com are good tools to use for determining its value.
When you enter the details on their apps, be honest so you get most accurate value.
Another way to determine the value of your car is to investigate the prices of similar cars for sale in the area. While the Blue Book and NADA values are helpful, they are not always the real prices that are selling in San Diego locally.
Local websites like AutoTrader can show you what sellers are asking for cars listed for sale in town.