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How to prepare your car for sale

By David Bonnici, 13 Mar 2020 Car Advice

car for sale

Selling your car? Here’s some top tips how to add value to your car and impress potential buyers

Selling your car isn't the most enjoyable experience at the best of times but there are a few ways you can make sure there are as few headaches as possible by preparing your car accordingly. At the end of the day, both parties want a good deal. 

FIX IT

Depending on which state you will need to get a roadworthy or vehicle safety certificate in order to transfer ownership. It’s also worth getting the car serviced. It’s a good selling point to say the latest service has just been done and it will ensure the car runs smoothly when a potential buyer turns the key.

Read next: How to write an effective used car sale ad

Also consider offering a pre-purchase inspection by a third party, such as ones provided by state automobile associations, and fix any minor issues to show potential buyers that the car is in good shape. Keep receipts for any servicing and fixes.

Don’t spend too much on major repairs for older, cheaper cars – you’re better off reducing the price and being up front with the buyer.

Mechanic fixing car

LOG IT

A full service history can make a lot of difference to your sales price and provide reassurance for potential buyers. Be sure to include the service book, manual and receipts for any work done for yourself or any previous owners. If you have the original documentation that came with the car as new add that as well.

Read next: Busting the myth of running in a new car

CLEAN IT

First impressions are everything so make sure the car is clean inside and out including under the bonnet and boot lid. It’s worth taking it to a car detailer, but if you do it yourself, don’t forget to clean:

  • Inside in door jambs and boot lid.
  • Tyres and wheels including the grime between spokes. Tyre shine wouldn't hurt either. 
  • The engine bay. Don’t use a steam cleaner or power hose, just wipe down main surfaces and perhaps use a degreaser spray for grimy areas. It doesn’t have to be a concourse winner, just presentable. While you’re there make sure all fluids are topped up.
  • The boot mat and boot seals. Also make sure the spare tyre, jack and other standard equipment are properly stowed.
  • Carpets and upholstery, preferably with a steam-cleaner. It looks good and gets rid of any smells. Add some new mats if needed.
  • Leather interiors with a suitable upholstery cleaner or restorer.  
  • All glass surfaces.

Read more: Should I trade in my car?

Don’t worry about spending money to repair small scratches or stone chips which would be normal wear and tear for your car’s age.

Man cleaning car

SHOOT IT

If selling your car online make sure you take good photos after you’ve cleaned it. You don’t need professional shots, just be sure you take the car somewhere where there’s an uncluttered background on a bright day. Mornings or late afternoon provide good light.

Take between 10 and 20 pics showing flattering angles, interior shots, dashboard features and the engine bay.

MORE Tax time tips for car owners 

If selling a convertible pick a sunny day and take shots with the roof up and down.

Some cars may need extra shots, such as the underside of a 4WD or condition of a ute’s tray.

Read next: How to photograph your car like a pro

Phone pics are fine; just be sure to tilt your phone sideways as most sites display pictures in landscape format.

Man taking photo of his car

SHOW IT

Be real about the price you advertise your car for. Redbook.com.au shows recommended private and trade-in prices for most cars. It is worth noting, however, that these websites don't always get it right. The best yardstick is to also check out vehicle sales websites to compare your car against others.

Be sure to take into account differences between similar models such as leather interior, transmission and engine sizes.

If you need to sell fast, don’t under-price too much as people get suspicious.

When placing the ad include all relevant information including year, model, variant, mileage, general condition and your location. Also be sure to mention things that might set it apart from similar cars such as any recent servicing, new tyres, features such as climate control and reverse camera, long registration etc – give it your best sales pitch.