How to Prepare Your Car Before Selling It

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 1 month ago

5 min read

  • How to
  • Car ownership
Selling a car with documents.

WhoCanFixMyCar offers advice about how to prepare your car before selling it.

It can be a real kick in the teeth when you’re selling your car and a potential buyer makes an offer much lower than your suggested price. Nobody wants to let their car go for less than they think it’s worth. But in such a competitive marketplace, you might wonder how to secure a sale without losing out.

Fortunately, you can do plenty of things to ensure your car sells for as high a price as possible. Read on to find out more.


Carry out DIY checks

Get your car serviced

Book a dent or bodywork repair

Check your car's MOT status

Remove your belongings

Clean your car or get it valeted

Gather your paperwork

The best time to sell your car

Carry out DIY checks

It’s a good idea to kick-start the selling process by assessing the condition of your car.

Woman checking car battery.

Make sure you inspect the:

You can then create a checklist of areas that could be improved. It’s easy to top up your car’s fluids and tyre pressure; these are quick wins.

However, low tyre tread could count against you if a potential buyer inspects the vehicle. They may use this as a bargaining chip because they know the tyres will soon need replacing. Buying a new set of budget tyres is a great way to avoid this without spending much money. 

This guide discusses whether budget tyres are any good.

Get your car serviced

When was the last time your car was serviced? If it was more than six months ago, consider booking another one to give potential buyers more confidence that the vehicle has been looked after. It also means they won’t have to pay for a service soon, which makes the deal more enticing.

When you get your car serviced, the mechanic will check everything from the coolant level to the tyres, lights, wipers, electrics and much more. Check out this guide for more information about what’s included.

Book a dent or bodywork repair

Dents and scratches, though purely cosmetic, can significantly lower the value of your car. It’s worth investigating how much a repair will cost, especially since minor dents are often easy to fix.

Rust removal

Patches of rust are equally unsightly, and even more importantly, they will worsen with time. Many buyers know this and may be put off buying your car. There’s no need to panic, though - you can repair small areas of rust by following the advice in this guide.

Check your car’s MOT status

One of the main things car buyers often look for is a long MOT certificate, proving the vehicle has recently had a clean bill of health. If yours runs out soon, consider booking an MOT before you put the car up for sale. Otherwise, it’s almost certain people will try to beat you down on price.

Read about common MOT fails & how to avoid them.

Remove your belongings

The next thing to do is remove your belongings before you clean and prepare the interior. Check the glove box, underneath the seats and any other places where there could be things you’ve forgotten about. 

Clean your car or get it valeted

There’s nothing better than climbing into a new car and breathing in that clean, fresh smell - your aim should be to get your vehicle looking (and smelling) as close to new as possible. Wear and tear is expected in older cars, but dirt, dust and general mess will put buyers off.

Man cleaning the interior of a car.

The most important areas to clean are:

  • Seats - Use an upholstery cleaner or an equivalent product for leather to remove stains.

  • Floor mats - Start with a hose or pressure washer if you have one, followed by soapy water on a sponge.

  • Wheels - A long-bristled brush should remove any grime.

  • Paintwork - Using soapy water and a sponge is OK, or you could invest in some specialist cleaning products to give the paintwork extra shine.

  • Smell - You definitely want to eliminate any bad smells with an odour remover.

Take a look at this guide for more car cleaning advice.

If the thought of thoroughly cleaning your car fills you with dread, there is another option: having it professionally valeted. It’s a sensible investment because it gives your vehicle a thorough and professional clean, ensuring it’s in pristine condition.

Gather your paperwork

MOT certificate with car key on top.

The final step is to gather all the car's paperwork. This includes things like MOT certificates, receipts and the VC5. This guide provides a full run-down of all the documents you need.

The best time to sell your car

It’s worth considering the time of year you are selling because some vehicles sell better during certain seasons. Follow the guidelines below to get the best price.

  • Spring/summer - cabriolets and convertibles often sell best when the weather is warm.

  • Autumn/winter - 4x4s and SUVs are more likely to sell when the weather is bad.

  • Online auctions - weekends and pay days often yield the best results.

  • Part exchanges - visiting dealerships during quieter months (January, March, August and December) may secure you a better deal.

  • Major holidays - avoid selling immediately after Christmas or the summer holidays.

Whether your car needs a service, MOT or repair to get it ready to sell, we can help you find the right garage at the right price.

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