Getting a car ready to sell, part 1

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Car wash

A car wash will do much toward raising the value of your used vehicle. Image: bark/Flickr/CC BY

There comes a time in every car owner’s life when, no matter what the sentimental attachment, it is time to say good-bye to an old four-wheeled friend. But selling a car is not what it used to be. You can’t just park it at the side of the road with a price tag in the window if you want to get the most for your old pal. The steps listed below will help you maximize the value or your car and minimize the departure pangs.

Buyers today have more resources

Car buyers today have access to many tools they did not have in the past. Car seekers can find listings online, giving them access to far more choices than ever before. That means stiffer competition for sellers, who need to exploit every marketing edge they can.

Getting a car looking its best is, of course, very important in selling a car privately. It is especially important, however, when offering it to a dealer as a trade-in. A dealer will deduct the cost of any repairs needed to get your car lot-ready.

Charlie Vogelheim, one-time editor of Kelley Blue Book, told MSN in a 2010 interview:

“For the most part, a dealership will have to do a lot more work to a car before reselling it, because they are liable for the car for some period of time. So the dealer will deduct the cost of any repairs that will have to be made from the amount they will pay for your car.”

[Car buy, sell car — your all-purpose auto stop.]

Spit and polish

Used car buyers, no matter how savvy they are, are drawn to shiny objects. They want a used car that looks like it rolled off the assembly line last Tuesday. No matter how old or new a car is, though, trying to sell it without a thorough cleaning inside and out will cost you big.

Vogelheim said:

“The most important thing is to clean the car inside and out. If the car is older, a good wash and wax on the exterior and vacuum of the interior is probably enough. The extent of the detail will vary depending on the age of the car.”

For newer cars, it may be wise to invest $100 – $200 for a professional detailing. No matter how thorough you are, these pros will probably do a better job. Plus they generally have better tools for the job handy.

Vogelheim also recommended a full-service car wash as a low-cost alternative to a professional detailing. He added:

“The better the car looks and the more broad of an appeal the car has, even if you don’t get more money for it, you will probably sell it quicker.”

In part two of this survey, we will look at a few more things to do, gather and research before putting that old friend of yours up on the market. Your pocketbook will thank you for it later.

Daily Finance

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