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Preparing a Used Car for Sale

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 27 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Cars For Sale Used Car Preparation

A day’s work can add hundreds of pounds to the value of a used car. Before advertising a car for sale, it is worth spending a little time making sure it looks its best. It does not have to cost much and will make a car far more appealing to buyers.

Start by cleaning the outside of the car, but do not make the common mistake of using washing-up liquid, as this helps promote rust. Get rid of all the road grime using a good quality car shampoo, which will keep rust at bay. Work from the roof down, rinse off well, and dry with a chamois leather.

Take a close look at the car and consider what can be done to improve its presentation. If any trim or a badge is missing it will be obvious to buyers, so try to find replacements. A breaker’s yard can help to keep costs down. Brake dust on wheels is ugly too, so treat alloys with an alloy wheel cleaner. Damaged alloys can be repaired, although it can be expensive. It is cheaper to replace wheel trims and worthwhile if they have been run into kerbs a few times.

Shining Like New

Unsightly stone chips can rust if not dealt with, so repair them with a touch-up stick. A bit of elbow grease and a good polish will have the car shining like new and be sure to clean less obvious areas such as wheel arches, sills and the inner panel of doors. This will help to create the impression that the car is well looked after.

Take just as much care to clean the inside of the car properly, starting with the vacuum cleaner on carpets, mats, seats and dusty crevices. Use a low-gloss cleaner on the dashboard – not a household polish – and do not flood the car with air freshener unless it has been smoked in. If a smoker has used the car, buy an odour neutraliser and give the ashtray a thorough clean before giving it a spray too.

Clean windows with a damp chamois or glass cleaner and remove any tatty old mats, and clean carpets underneath will look far more appealing to buyers. Holes in the dashboard caused by mobile phone holder or satellite navigation devices can be repaired by specialists for not much money, and it is worth replacing any boy racer-type add-ons such as alloy pedal covers and flashy gear knobs that may give the impression the car has been flogged.

Steam Clean to Gleam

Expect car buyers to look under the bonnet – even the ones who do not have a clue what it is they are looking for. Dealers tend to steam clean engines as part of the preparation of cars for sale. Beware that steam cleaners can occasionally damage connections or fragile parts, so give it a miss if selling an older car. A steam cleaned engine can arouse suspicion in a buyer too, as it can be a tactic used to hide an oil leak.

At the very least tidy up the engine bay. Fill the water and coolant bottles and change the oil, as an oil change is relatively cheap and clean oil looks so much better than black sludge. Make sure the oil level is correct, clean out the air intakes and ensure the engine bay appears looked after.

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