How to Prep Your Car to Sell at a Used Car Dealership


How to Maximize the Return on Your Used Car

Preparing your car for maximum sale price

Whether you are selling your vehicle privately or at a used car dealership, you want to get the most amount of money from your transaction. Look at your vehicle with a critical eye just like any buyer would. Make sure that you don’t underestimate the impact that each imperfection will have on the final worth of the vehicle at sale or trade-in.

Take a tour around the vehicle

Inspect your vehicle with a critical eye from all angles. Look at the vehicle from a distance and check out the vehicle up close. Note anything that detracts from the physical appearance of the vehicle such as scratches, paint chips, and door dings. Wherever possible, attempt to buff out scuffs and paint imperfections. You can eliminate or minimize many of these minor problems, which can enhance the appearance and perceived value of the vehicle. 

Consider taking the vehicle to a professional. See what they can do to repair these imperfections and how much they will charge you to repair them.

Thoroughly clean your vehicle

After completing these minor (or not so minor) body repairs, the next step is to thoroughly wash your vehicle. Consider applying a fresh coat of wax to shine up painted surfaces. Thoroughly clean the inside of the vehicle. Get rid of all trash and personal items from under the seats, storage pouches, storage compartments, ashtrays, and the glove box. Don’t forget to check the visors for anything you might have clipped or banded to them. 

Vacuum the inside of the vehicle completely and thoroughly. Either spot clean any stains on the vehicle’s carpeting or consider giving the whole carpet a shampoo. Shampooing the whole carpet and fabric upholstery inside the vehicle will go a long way to eliminate any odors that may have permeated the surfaces. Use a good cleaner on the dashboard and other leather, faux leather, or plastic surfaces of the vehicle. If your vehicle does not have fabric seats, clean the seat surfaces completely as well. 

After cleaning those surfaces, there are several products on the market you can use to dress and protect them. Completely clean all the interior glass surfaces on the vehicle using a good glass cleaning product. Once again, if this is something you don’t have the time or inclination to do, consider taking the car to a detailing specialist. It will pay off in increasing the vehicle value, particularly in a sale to a private third party.

Check every mechanical and electrical system

Check all the vehicle’s light bulbs, headlamps, taillights, and any running lights on the vehicle. Replace any that have burned out. Make sure turn signals and windshield washers are working properly. Check all fluid levels on the vehicle, including brake fluid, coolant levels, transmission fluids, washer fluids, and power steering fluids. Test the air conditioning and heaters. 

If you do not have the time to do these tasks, take the vehicle to a servicing professional. It is a good idea to have the professional give the car a quick once over. They can make sure there are no other problems that you should take care of before they become major issues. 

Documentation and other considerations related to a vehicle sale or transfer

Put together a package with all the important and pertinent documentation related to the vehicle that are needed for sale. Place the car’s title and registration together. You should make sure that the vehicle title is clear of any liens or encumbrances before the sale. 

Include vehicle service records proving that you have maintained the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Proof the vehicle has had regular maintenance performed will help to increase the value of the vehicle. Make sure the vehicle maintenance and handbooks are complete and placed in the glove box. 

Also, if there are any continuing warranty protections, include that documentation. Add all the operating manuals, cords, and attachments for any aftermarket equipment installed on the vehicle such as GPS, audio systems, and other equipment. 

You will want to make sure to include extra sets of vehicle keys or fobs in the vehicle transaction. If you are selling to a private third party, a vehicle history report will also prove helpful in getting the maximum value for your vehicle. 

Last steps

Take the vehicle out for a drive. This isn’t for nostalgic reasons, but instead to make sure that everything works properly and that the vehicle feels right when it is being driven. Make sure to inflate the tires to proper pressure levels so the vehicle handles and rides properly. Give the vehicle a last inspection just to make sure that everything that you noted in your initial inspection has been taken care of. 

Use online tools to determine the proper value of the vehicle. These tools help to estimate the value of the vehicle to a dealership or private third-party purchaser. Selling privately can net you a higher return than selling to a Ford dealer in Kansas City or similar dealership, but it’s most often a big hassle. Knowing that all the preparations that have been performed will give you the proper knowledge to assess the condition of your vehicle to help determine the vehicle’s value.

Armed with the knowledge of exactly how much your vehicle is worth, you can be more confident when haggling with dealerships or private buyers. As you’ve fixed any issues with the vehicle, there’s very little a buyer can grumble or gripe about in an attempt to lower the price. You will be selling from a position of strength and it’s extremely easy to refuse any low-ball offers.

These tips hold true whether you are selling to a private third party, trading your vehicle in, or selling your vehicle to a used car dealership. Following the outlined steps will allow you to sell your vehicle with the peace of mind that you have done everything necessary to get the maximum value possible.

Chrysler Factory Warranty

Infographic Provided by Chrysler Factory Warranty