Although every car has a book value, its exact selling price is somewhat up for negotiation. Whether you are selling your car privately or trading it in for a newer model, a few simple guidelines can significantly improve the value you’ll get out of the deal.
When the day comes to sell your car, a well-documented service and repair record is worth its weight in gold. Rather be honest about what problems the car has given and prove that you addressed them. A buyer who is knowledgeable about cars will never believe that you’ve had “absolutely no troubles at all”.
A complete lack of service and repair history, on the other hand, makes you look like you are a neglectful car owner – a red light for used car buyers and dealers. Unfortunately, if you haven’t kept track of the vehicle’s history from the start, proving its upkeep is very difficult.
Regardless of its condition, investing in a proper polish and valet can do wonders for a car’s appearance. The relatively small fee for a professional clean-up is totally worth the difference in the first impression buyers will get.
Be sure to get rid of any lingering cabin odours hinting at damp or old spills. Cigarette smoke creates a particularly tenacious smell which is a definite turn-off to potential buyers. Air fresheners can help, but declaring your car a smoke-free zone is the only real solution.
Replacing scratched hubcaps, removing old bumper stickers and clearing any paraphernalia also improves saleability. This includes steering wheel covers, seat covers and dangling mirror ornaments. Think of this process as restoring your car to its factory settings. Sound systems are the only exception. If you’ve installed top quality speakers or a high-end radio, be sure to point this out to potential buyers.
When it comes to fine scratches in the paintwork, some off-the-shelf products and polishes can do wonders. However, do not attempt to spray over scratches or use touch-up paints yourself. An amateur job often looks worse than the original mark.
When it comes to general eye-sores like dents, rust or sun damage, proceed with caution. Chances are the cost to fix these problems will be more than the difference in your selling price with or without repairs. Get a few quotes from panel beaters and fix what you can afford. If the repairs are expensive, rather accept that you’ll get slightly less than market value for the car.
If you really want to negotiate a great price for your car, you have to consider the needs of your market. Wait for the optimum time to ensure your car has extra appeal.
For instance, a convertible sports car might be hard to sell in winter, but as summer days get warmer, its desirability will go up. A 4x4, on the other hand, would be more desirable at the start of hunting season.
Family cars like the Chevrolet Cruze or Toyota Corolla are always “in season”. If your plan is to sell one of these privately, just keep an eye on directories and classifieds to be sure you time your sale right. A few of the same cars available in the same town creates a buyer’s market, and you’ll probably have to lower your price.
All in all, as long as you have loved your car and looked after it well, you deserve to get top dollar for it.