Preparing your car - Running a Car
Getting your car looking its best before buyers come to see it will help you realise its potential and sell it with the minimum of fuss.
• Give it a thorough clean. If it looks the part, you'll be half way there when the buyers turn up. Use professional cleaning products to give it a good shine, and consider sprays that bring back lustre to plastic body parts and tyres.
• Spruce up the interior. Removing all of your clutter and giving it a good vacuum and wipe-down is the minimum required, but you might want to rejuvenate surfaces with a dedicated spray.
• Get rid of any smell of cigarette smoke or evidence of dog hairs.
• If you can't be bothered to clean the car yourself, get it done by a valet company. You could spend between £15 and £50, depending on the service, but if you sell the car quickly, you'll save on having to re-advertise it.
• Steam-cleaning the engine is considered a step too far with most used cars. A sparkling powerplant under the bonnet is more likely to raise buyers' suspicions than put them at ease. Change the oil so it's clean when the buyer checks, though.
• It's often worth getting dents and scratches removed from nearly new or prestige cars before putting them up for sale. Knocks on older cars are expected, so you're unlikely to recover the cost of getting them put right. Covering over stone chips with some touch up paint is cheap and easy, however.
• Collect together all the relevant paperwork for your car, including the V5C registration document, servicing schedule and MOT certificate. If you have receipts for work done, so much the better – it'll show that you've cared for you car.
• The used car market isn't as seasonal as it used to be but you'll still make the most on a convertible in the summer and realise the best price for an off-roader as winter draws in.