How to prepare your car for sale
It’s time to get rid of your beloved pride and joy, but do you just go out and take snaps of it as is, covered in road grime and with the most cluttered, disgraceful interior known to mankind? No, of course not. Here are some simple steps to preparing your car for sale that will help you impress potential buyers and get you a quicker sale at a fee closer to your asking price.
- Gather everything together
Paperwork and ancillaries for the car ought to be easy enough to lay your hands on. Where is the Vehicle Registration Certificate and, if you’ve got a car from before April 2004, the Vehicle Licensing Certificate? What about the spare key? The vehicle’s service book and owner’s manual? Are all of the spare wheel, the jack and any locking wheel nuts all in situ and in good condition? Any of this stuff missing will make your car less attractive to a potential buyer.
- What’s the NCT status?
If you’re getting paperwork together, you need the current NCT certificate ready and waiting. Is the car about due another NCT? If so, you need to think about getting it through the NCT, because a car with a full year’s certificate will sell a lot better than one with one month’s NCT remaining and a sale price reduced accordingly; it’s not just the financial implications for a potential buyer, it’s the hassle of getting the car booked in… and what happens if it might need repairs or work to pass in the aftermath of an NCT failure? Just having a full NCT takes this worry away from purchasers’ minds.
- Clean it
This might sound like we’re stating the absolute obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many people try to sell their car in its daily driver status. Listen, we’re not judging; loads of us drive around in machines caked in filth from grubby roads, in cars where the floor of the interior is hard to spot through all the discarded junk in the footwells, in vehicles where the boot looks like it is perpetually in the process of carting stuff off to the tip for disposal. And that’s fine… unless you want to sell your car. In which case, clean it up! Inside and out, thoroughly. Declutter the cabin, hoover the mats and carpets, make sure the seats are clean, empty the boot of every last morsel of junk, hoover that up too, wash the bodywork thoroughly, clean in hard to reach places (like in between the spokes of alloy wheels, up in the wheel arches, underneath front and rear bumpers, and underneath the bonnet/inside the door seals if you’ve got the will)… once your car is shiny and sparkling and spick ’n’ span, it will look a whole lot more appealing in the classified advert listing and it will look a lot nicer when someone comes to view it with the idea of potentially buying it.
- Repair it
Always a difficult balancing act, this one, because it depends on how old your car is, how much value it has left in it and how much any repairs it might need will cost you, but let’s put forward a scenario to try and illustrate our point: say your car has 100,000km on the clock, is ten years old and is typically valued at €3,000 by the market. However, it has a scuff on the front bumper; nothing major, it was just you misjudged how tight that multi-storey car park’s ramp really was. You’ve been quoted €300 to repair this damage and that would have the car looking minty fresh once more. You might think that therefore advertising the car for €2,700 might be the way to go, but – trust us – if you’ve got the cash it’s better to get the car repaired yourself. It’s just another load of hassle for a potential buyer and, unless your motor is a really rare vehicle that’s hard to track down elsewhere, they’ll just go and look for a pristine example for €3,000. Admittedly, in this scenario we’ve posited you could put the car up for sale for around €2,400 or €2,500 to try and tempt people in with a bargain, but then you’re out of pocket. Unless it’s massively uneconomical to fix a given fault with your car, get it repaired before you sell it.
- Check its vital fluids, tyres and bulbs
Go around and make sure the engine oil is topped up, the windscreen washer fluid is full to the brim (with some actual washer fluid in it, not just tap water…), the tyre pressures are all OK, the tyre treads are all legal and above board, and that all the brake lights/indicators/headlamps/taillights work. Again, these things are just a few Euro each if you need to replenish/replace any of them and you’ll recoup any outlay by selling the car quicker and for more cash than if it needs a couple of rear tyres or some oil. Oh, and try not to have the car sitting on fumes, either; buyers will want a test drive and a low fuel warning light glaring away at them as soon as they start off won’t put them in the right frame of mind to buy the car.