Monday, 20 September 2010

Preparing your car for a private sale

Just by preparing your car properly can add hundreds of pounds to your vehicle's value;
Use a good-quality car shampoo to clean off any 'road grime'. Work from the roof down, rinse off well, and dry with a chamois leather.

Stone chips are unsightly and can rust if not attended to. Repair them with a touch-up stick. These aren't expensive, and with a little patience, you can dramatically improve your car's appearance.

Missing wheel trims or badges are unslightly to used buyers, so make sure you buy replacements. Breaker's yards offer a cheap source of parts.

Wheels covered in brake dust look awful. On alloys, if it's particularly stubborn, buy an alloy wheel cleaner and treat them. If you've got wheel trims, consider replacing them.
A good polish will create that 'new car' shine that so many used buyers are looking for. Don't worry if paint residue appears on the cloth; this is just a layer of 'dead paint' you're removing - there'll still be plenty left on the car!
Cleaning the interior requires a little more hard work. Start with the vacuum and treat carpets, seats, dusty crevices, and even the dashboard itself.

Dashboards should be cleaned with a 'low-gloss' dashboard cleaner; don't use household polish, as it'll give a cheap appearance.

Windows should be cleaned after the dashboard, to make sure you don't spoil your hard work. Use a glass cleaner or damp chamois leather.

Replace any non-standard parts, such as racy gear knobs or alloy pedal covers. They won't impress buyers, who'll think your car has been thrashed. Standard is always best.

Avoid dousing the car in air freshener, unless you have smoked in it - in which case, buy an odour neutraliser. Spray the ashtray too, after giving it a good clean.

Lift tatty old mats out; the clean carpets underneath will look much more attractive.
Buyers love looking under the bonnet, even if they haven't got a clue what they're looking for. You should therefore make sure they like what they see.

Tidy up generally; attach alarm wiring correctly, clean out leaves from air intakes, and generally make the engine bay appear cared-for.

Oil changes are cheap, and clean oil looks far better than sludgy treacle. Make sure the oil level is correct too.
Fill all water and coolant bottles up, maybe using a sweet-smelling windscreen washer?

Finally, steam-cleaning is much-loved by car dealers, but don't go overboard, particularly with older cars as it can sometimes damage fragile parts or connections.

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