Buying a new car can be really exciting. On the other hand, selling a car can bring mixed emotions. It’s can be hard to part with the memories attached to a car that you’ve owned for a long time - just take it from these truck-loving country music stars.
There’s an additional sinking feeling that can sneak up on you if your car has significantly depreciated since you bought it. In almost all cases (flippers aside), sellers are going to receive less money than they spent on the car when they initially bought it.
That said, there are ways to boost the value of your used car without spending a ton of money - and without any mechanical work. While a new paint job or a rebuilt engine could increase the value - the cost doesn’t always make sense.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll discuss two fairly simple areas in which you can drive up the value of your car:
Improving the visual appeal of your car.
Marketing your car in order to receive the most money.
Aesthetic Appearances & Your Car’s First Impression
In the used car world, good first impressions can make all the difference. Be thorough. A clean car gives the impression that the car has been well maintained.
The Car’s Exterior
Before a potential buyer even bothers looking at the inside of your car, they’re going to scan the outside. This first scan will almost certainly happen via photographs but, in some cases, a person might happen upon your car without previously seeing pictures in a sale listing.
The point is, the car’s exterior will make the first impression on the buyer and, they’ll quickly decide if they have interest in continuing to learn more about the car.
If your car has scratches, it can be a quick and easy fix. You can purchase a tiny bottle of paint from an auto parts store to cover the scratches.
It’s a good idea to make sure that your car is clean. I even recommend going the extra mile to wash the windows, clean the wheels, and put a wax or polish coat over the paint. These little details go a long way in making sure the car looks as new as possible.
The Car’s Interior
With a car interior there are really two things you want to focus on: the appearance and the odor. Let’s start with the appearance.
Cleaning out your car is an easy fix. Sweep out your floorboards, the seats, and any other spaces where dirt or crumbs are visible.
It’s worth it to grab a bottle of Armor All, or your favorite interior cleaner, to wipe down the dashboard, buttons, the steering wheel, the insides of the doors, the seats and any other small crevices where dirt and debris may get trapped. Don’t be afraid to grab a few q-tips to pull dirt and crumbs out of small cracks.
Stains in upholstery are worth a second look, too. If your carpet or cloth seats are looking a little shabby, grab some of your favorite upholstery cleaner and shampoo, shampoo, shampoo. If the stains don’t come out, it may be worth it just to buy some new floor mats. That’s an easy and inexpensive fix.
If you don’t really feel like putting in the elbow grease, you’re often still money ahead to pay someone else to detail your car for you. It usually costs a couple hundred bucks but can leave a car looking like new.
The Car’s Odor
Instead of trying to focus not on covering up unpleasant smells, try to find the source. Once you’ve found and removed the source of the smell, you might consider putting a small bowl full of baking soda in the car overnight. Baking soda is known to absorb unpleasant odors and can help trap the odor so that it can be removed and disposed of. If the smell is particularly strong, you might consider doing this over the course of a few different nights.
If possible, you may also want to air your car out. Of course we don’t recommend doing this if you don’t live in a place where it would be save to roll down your car windows, or leave your car’s doors open for an afternoon.
There are certain smells which may require professional help, something like cigarette smoke is difficult to remove without a deep clean.
Using an air freshener afterwards can help but don’t overdo it, or it could just make the car smell worse.
Marketing Your Car
Now that your car is cleaned up and ready to sell, it’s time to market it. This is probably the easiest way to earn more money - without spending anything!
Take a look at the way others are positioning the same car, in your neighborhood and others to get ideas for what you might want to include in yours.
Beyond writing your ad, check out ways to enhance your listing - to offer that extra something that other sellers aren’t. Not sure how? Check out Trusted Sale. You can offer a warranty with your car and qualified buyers can finance their purchases, while you still receive all of the money upfront. These are huge perks that can put your private party sale more in line with what buyers would expect to receive at a dealership - and you can still almost always beat a dealership on price just because they have so much more overhead.
Once you’ve written your ad, you’ll want to list it as many places as possible. There are a ton of great places to list your car online for free, including but not limited to Craigslist, Nextdoor.com and buy/sell/trade groups within Facebook.
Park your car somewhere where it is highly visible with a “For Sale” sign, whenever possible. If you don’t live somewhere that allows you to park it in a highly visible place, or you need to keep using your car for the time being, try to park it in visible places when you are out running errands. For example, if you’re in a store with a big parking lot, park it in the back where people will drive by it as they enter the parking lot. Make sure the for sale sign is visible as they drive past. Try not to park by other cars so that people can walk around it and see it from all angles.