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Getting the Best Price for a Used Car

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 28 Feb 2011 | comments*Discuss
Used Car Price Sale Make Model Buyers'

It is not difficult to sell a used car. The difficult part is getting a good price for it. A bit of research and a bit of hard work can help boost a car's sale price by hundreds of pounds, and the answers to these frequently asked questions will tell you how.

Question: How do I get the best price for my used car?

Answer: Take some time to find out what the car is worth and then set the sale price accordingly. A seller will be left frustrated if he sets the price too high and will lose out if he sets the price too low, but a little bit of research can lead to a quick sale at the right price. Classified advertisements in newspapers can give a good indication of a car’s worth. Look for cars of the same make, model, age and condition with a similar mileage and see what others are asking for.

Buyers’ guides are available for sale in newsagents or online and will take into account age, condition and mileage in valuations. These guides will typically give four different prices that are dependent on how the car is to be sold – trade-in, forecourt, auction and private sale.

There are independent specialists that will give an unbiased opinion on the value of a car. This will cost money and such specialists are more often used by buyers keen to ensure a used car is worth the asking price, but can be employed by sellers too.

Question: What can I do to make my used car look its best?

Answer: Any missing badges or trim can be obvious to any potential buyers, so try to find replacements at a breaker’s yard. If wheel trims have been scratched on kerbs consider replacing them, or if the car has alloys treat them with an alloy wheel cleaner. Stone chips can lead to rust if not dealt with, so repair them with a touch-up stick.

Question: How do I give my car a showroom gleam?

Answer: It takes a bit of elbow grease. Use a good quality car shampoo – not washing-up liquid as this promotes rust – and work from the roof down, rinsing well and dry with a chamois leather. Then use a good polish to get the car shining like new. Don’t neglect less obvious areas such as wheel arches, sills and the inner panel of doors.

Question: What can I do to freshen up the interior of my used car?

Answer: Use a vacuum cleaner on carpets, mats and seats, but throw out the mats if they are too tatty, as the clean carpets underneath will be far more appealing to buyers. Smarten up the dashboard with a low-gloss cleaner – not a household polish – and clean the windows with a damp chamois or glass cleaner.

If there are holes in the dashboard caused by a mobile phone holder or satellite navigation device, these can be repaired by a specialist and it should not cost too much.

Question: Is it safe to clean the engine before selling a used car?

Answer: Steam cleaners can be used to clean engines, but these can sometimes damage connections or fragile parts, so should be avoided if selling an older car. Also, be aware that some buyers may be wary of a steam-cleaned engine as it is sometimes a tactic used to hide an oil leak.

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