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Top Tips For Selling Your Car

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Fix mechanical issues

Most car buyers are looking for safe and reliable vehicles that are free of issues. If there are any lights on in the dash, such as the check engine light, brake light, ABS light, washer fluid low light, tire light, etc., this will instantly devalue your vehicle. Buyers view this as an open-ended expense and without knowing what it is, there is no telling how much it would cost to fix or if they could even afford to fix it. We recommend getting the root cause of the light resolved. It could be something as simple as topping off your washer fluid or airing up your tires, or it may be a more involved mechanical repair. Regardless of the reason, it will definitely affect the price point of your vehicle. 

Keep it clean

Even though the vehicle is used, it’s still a big investment. Keeping your car clean inside and out will help you sell your vehicle and get more for it. If your vehicle has a certain… smell… that can be a deal-breaker. Consider trying a deodorizer to eliminate the smell. Check out Ozium. It can help rid a car of the smell of cigarette smoke. If the car has been smoked in, that can hurt the value as well but deodorizers can help.

Limit Customization

As fun as customizing your car can be, the future owner of the car may not be so excited about the holes drilled in the truck to secure an aftermarket spoiler or the aftermarket exhaust that makes it louder. In most cases, swapping out or adding on parts to a vehicle will devalue it. If you do this, consider keeping the original parts so that you can have them reinstalled before selling or offer them to the purchaser. Not all customizations are big, something as simple as seat covers can be viewed as covering up something, and the buyer may be suspicious of the damaged seat fabric. Also, bumper stickers can cause irreversible damage to the paint and therefore, the value of the car.

Sell in a market fit for your vehicle

Based on what type of car you have and where you will be selling, it can affect its value. For example, sports cars and convertibles sell well in warm coastal areas; all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles sell better in colder climates where there is a higher chance of snow, and electric vehicles sell better in an inner-city with an infrastructure that supports charging. If you are planning on moving, make sure you plan to sell the car in the most fitting location. I.e. Sell your convertible in Florida before your move to New York in order to get a better price. 

Keep colors simple

Surprisingly color can have an effect. Safe colors are white, black, or grey. But if you have a unique, more adventurous color such as green, red, or blue, it may lower the demand of the vehicle consequently lowering the value. 

Make a good first impression

Just like with job interviews, first impressions are vital. If the first thing a potential buyer sees is a big scratch in the driver’s door, a broken rear view mirror, a flaking piece of chrome on the driver’s door handle, or a tear in the seat, the buyer could be automatically turned off by the car thinking it may not have been cared for or could have many more problems that they can’t see. If it’s easily or inexpensively fixed, consider fixing visible defects in the appearance of the vehicle to maximize value. 

Related: How to fix rear view mirror

Clean the headlights

Not only are faded headlight lenses visibly unbecoming, but they also cause dim headlights. There are three ways to go about fixing this. Some shops offer a headlight restoration service that can be rather inexpensive that can immensely change the appearance of the vehicle and clean up the lenses. You can also try this yourself with a DIY kit you can purchase from a local parts store, and lastly, you can replace the headlamp assemblies with new ones. For some models, this can be surprisingly cheap whereas for others it could be several thousand dollars. Based on what your headlamp assemblies cost, the first two options may be your best bet. 

Get matching tires in good condition

One of the big costs on a vehicle is tires, and if the car has worn or mismatched tires it can affect the value of the car. If they are mismatched, it can appear as if the vehicle was taken care of in an “as needed” or “what’s the cheapest option you got” type of fashion. Also, with mismatched tires, the vehicle may have an alignment issue and not drive straight down the road. Most used car dealers won’t sell cars with mismatched tires for this very reason. The tread needs to be in good shape with at least 50% tread life left (at least 5/32nds). If either of these criteria isn’t met, you may be looking at a good $800-$1600 hit in the value of the car due to the buyer needing to purchase a new set of tires.

Fix windshield cracks

Cracked windshields aren’t just unsightly, they’re also dangerous. Due to this, many insurance companies may cover windshield repairs at little to no cost. And in some cases may even cover windshield replacement, if deemed necessary. If your vehicle has a cracked windshield, consider calling your insurance company and seeing if they will cover it. If they won’t, get a quote for the repair or replacement, and you may be surprised at how much cheaper it is then expected. However, If you have a newer vehicle, it may have rain-sensing wipers and/or lane camera(s) mounted on the glass which can make replacement very expensive. Otherwise, if you can resolve this before selling the vehicle, it will keep the price higher than if it had a cracked windshield. 

Related: How to fix a long-cracked windshield

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

FIXD Research Team

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

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