We have been in the business of buying and selling cars for a long time. In fact, if you are looking to sell a car in Los Angeles, San Diego, or most of Southern California, call us. All of that aside, we have been in the business long enough to know that there are ways to make a used car look better when it’s time to sell.
If you don’t think looks matter, you do not understand how people buy cars. Human beings are visual creatures. The first thing that attracts us to a car is not its fuel efficiency or safety rating. It is the shape of the body, the color of the paint, and what the trim package looks like. Most of us are likely to be turned off by an ugly car even if it is the most fuel-efficient and mechanically reliable set of wheels on the road.
Whether you are looking to sell a car in Santa Barbara or Riverside, making it look good is imperative. Maybe you can’t make your car look brand new. But you can probably make it look better than it does. Here is what we recommend:
1. Wash It Thoroughly
The first thing to do is wash the exterior thoroughly. We are going to recommend some other external treatments, but you start with a good wash so that you can see all the car’s imperfections. A good wash requires hot water, a detergent made for the job, and some soft cloths.
Be sure to clean everything, including bumpers and tires. When you’re all done, hand dry the car so that you don’t leave any spots behind. Then hit all the windows with glass cleaner. Finally, clean the tires with a good tire cleaning product. Make the car pristine.
2. Repair Dings and Scratches
Little dings and scratches do not necessarily affect the integrity of the body, but they sure do make a used car look old and worn. Fortunately, they are not hard to take care of. Head to your dealer or auto parts store for the correct paint, then get to work. Small scratches and dings can be covered by dabbing paint on. Larger scratches and dings may have to be sanded out first.
If there is any rust, do not attempt to simply paint over it. Sand the rust out, prime the area, then paint and seal it with clear coat.
3. Detail the Car
Next, detail the car. If you don’t know what that means, it’s pretty simple: do to the interior what you just did to the exterior. Get a vacuum and thoroughly vacuum the seats, floors, and dash. Clean all interior glass with window cleaner and a soft cloth. Clean the instrument panel, steering wheel, gear shift, door handles, etc.
Make the extra effort to get into every nook and cranny. Even a little bit of grime left in a cup holder can be enough to turn off potential buyers. When you are done detailing, throw in an air freshener. Just make sure it is not overpowering.
4. Replace Necessary Parts
Replacing a few key parts can go a long way toward selling a used car. For example, consider the wiper blades. Smart buyers are going to check them when doing a once over. The blade should be in fairly good condition and more than capable of handling moderate amounts of precipitation.
If any of the bulbs are out, change them. This includes both interior and exterior lights. If it has been a while since your oil and air filters have been changed, take care of them too.
5. Remove Personal Items
Whenever you have someone coming over to look at the car, it is best to remove all personal items. If you don’t understand why, take a piece of advice from real estate agents. They recommend removing personal items from a house prior to showing it because personal items only distract buyers from imagining themselves living in the space. The same holds true for your car.
Buyers who find your car visually attractive will begin imagining themselves driving it. If they open the door, sit down in the driver’s seat, and suddenly see your sunglasses and baseball cap lying in the passenger seat, any images in their minds will be instantly shattered.
6. Get Rid of the Bumper Sticker
Speaking of personal items, bumper stickers certainly qualify. Not only that, but they also annoy a lot of people. It is best to remove them from your used car if possible. However, it’s better to leave them intact if you cannot get them off without doing damage.
A good way to try removing bumper stickers without doing harm is to soak them in a solvent like WD-40. You want a solvent that will dissolve the paper and glue without harming the bumper itself. If you have stuck bumper stickers directly to the body of the car, be extra careful about attempting to remove them.
7. Replace the Tires
Finally, it can pay to replace worn tires. Your tires should definitely be replaced if the treads are nearly worn away. But even tires that still have a good 5,000 to 10,000 miles on them may look old and tired. You can get a decent pair of new tires for about $200 if you know where to look. Spending the money could pay off in a faster sale at a higher price.
To wrap this post up, you can make your car look extremely good if you have made the effort to save all your service records. Assuming that’s the case, assemble all those records and put them in a binder or paper folder. Hand that binder or folder to every person who comes to look at the car. Rest assured that potential buyers will be impressed.
Now you know how to make your used car look better. Follow these tips prior to sale and you should find it a lot easier to sell your car at the price you want.