Getting Ready Your Car Ready to Sell

Your car is priceless – to you. But if you are trying to sell your car, you need to convince someone else that your car is worth every penny. To do that, you will need to take an objective look at your car and get it ready to be center stage in someone else’s eyes.

Who’s Your Buyer?

If you are trading in the car to a dealer, then I would not worry too much about prepping your car. In my experience, they rarely even look at the car. Sure, they will inspect it. But they have their own cleaning and detailing team to get your car looking like new (if it is worth it). If your car is really old or in bad shape, the dealer will probably just scrap it or try to resell it for parts. So, why put all the effort in yourself. The dealer will just look at his books to determine what it is worth.

However, if you plan on selling it on your own, you should really try to make it as presentable as possible. Private parties will look over the car with a very careful eye. So, here are some tips.

Wash and Wax

It may seem obvious, but the first thing you need to do is clean the car. I mean CLEAN the car. This will probably be the deepest cleaning you’ve ever done on your car. As you wash the outside, pay attention to every detail, every flaw. Waxing is not always necessary, but it is a good idea to put a nice coat of wax on it.

Be sure to wash the windows on the inside and out. Clean the carpet as best as you can. I like to use a nylon brush as I vacuum. I gently brush the stubborn particles of dirt in the carpet to loosen them as I vacuum. It really works well.

As a final detail, spray or use some sort of car deodorizer. Believe it or not, smell is a very powerful selling tool.

The Big Picture

Taking photos of your car is one of the best ways to get a good sense of your car and the condition it is in. It seems odd. You might be saying, “But I KNOW my car. I see it every day!” That is true, but for some reason, when you look at photos of a car, you tend to see it in a different light; at least that is my experience.

Since you will need photographs of your car to sell it anyway, you might as well snap away. When you look at the photos, try to see the car from someone else’s point of view. Would YOU buy this car? Why? Why not? Take note of any flaws you see so you can determine if you can fix these or if you just need to let them be.

There are some things you can easily fix yourself. If a button is missing on the radio (if it has buttons) you can get replacement buttons, usually, online or at your local salvage yard. Replacing floor mats is also a quick and easy way to spruce up your car.


Selling your car is never easy. But by prepping your car for sale, you may find you will sell the car faster and for more money, than if you just threw a “For Sale” sign on it.


Written by Gary Pradel