Whether you’re going to sell it yourself or bring it to a dealership, everyone wants top dollar for a vehicle they are selling – particularly when you already put plenty of money into maintaining it during your ownership. So, how much work should you actually put into cleaning a vehicle before you sell it? Does it matter if you plan to take it to a dealership that can do its own detailing? The following details your options and the process of prepping your car for sale.
Selling to a Dealership
When you sell your car to a dealership, you might think your car can only go toward the price of a new vehicle, but dealerships are low on used inventory – so they will likely be interested whether you buy from them or not. Although dealerships commonly detail their vehicles to prep them for sale regardless of their condition, imagine a dealer looking over your vehicle in terms of the work they will have to do before the vehicle can be sold. Any dealer knows a car sells faster and for a higher price if it looks clean and is free of dings and dents. If your vehicle isn’t clean, the dealership will need to pay someone to do it, and that comes out of their profits.
Regardless of who you sell it to, it’s important to clean out your trash, wipe down all surfaces, wash the windows, vacuum, and polish the exterior. That should translate into more money for you when they make you an offer.
Rather than taking your car to a dealer, you may want to make more money on your sale by selling it yourself. To get top dollar for your car, it falls on you to either clean it the way a detailing service would or pay someone to detail it. Obviously, detailing a car yourself means you get more money out of the sale, but you can save yourself a major headache by paying a detailer about $100 to do the work for you.
Buyers are often put off by a dirty car, so cleaning it will put a buyer at ease. It gives the appearance of care and maintenance. If you need to take pictures for an ad, a clean, shiny car will attract more interest than a car that looks dull or dirty.
Buyers are more likely to make a higher offer if the car is clean, too, so it’s worth your time to deep clean. That means shampooing carpets and seats, using special treatments to liven up the look of the dashboard and controls, and giving your car a good wax. Taking the extra time to touch up dents or dings will also give your car a fresher look and will mean a higher price when you sell.
The Difference Between Older and Newer Models
If you’re selling a car that’s only a couple of years old, buyers are likely to expect it to still look fairly new. On the other hand, if your car is five or six years old, buyers will be more forgiving of a few rough edges in the appearance. While it still matters whether or not it’s clean, the value of a vehicle is more closely associated with its age and how many miles it’s been driven. Though you expect a car to sell for a higher price when it’s still within those first few years of its life, an older car that has been maintained well and has a nice clean interior can still sell for a good price. Whether your car is new or old, if you can make it look as close to new as possible, your potential buyer will be more impressed.
Just like clean seats and windows, buyers will notice if little things – like climate control knobs or door handles – are broken. Those things draw away from the value of the vehicle and are part of making it presentable for sale. If you have a broken signal light, a window that doesn’t open, or windshield wipers that don’t work, take the time to fix them. Paying a couple hundred dollars to fix small things will add value to the overall price of your car, and whether you sell it to a dealership or a private buyer, it will mean a higher offer in the end.
What Buyers Will See
Remember: You want to make a good impression on whoever buys your car. A dealer may be shrewder at noticing details you might miss, but they also expect to do some work before they turn around and sell it themselves. Make it worth their while by bringing them a clean car they can easily freshen up. For private sales, try to see your car through the eyes of a dealer and make it shine. Go to the local auto store and find the products that restore its appearance, including fixing those little things you might have let go. You might even want to buy an air freshener. People tend to be swayed by the emotional response of a clean, fresh car.
Source: Auto Influence