Getting your car looking its best before your show it to a potential buyer – whether a private individual or a dealer – will help you sell it as quickly as possible and for the best price. Apart from looking more attractive, a clean car sends out a good message about how well the car has been cared for. There are several things you can do to increase your car's value.
Clean your car
Shine on, shine off
As well as washing your car, use professional cleaning products to give it a good shine, and consider sprays that restore lustre to exterior plastic body parts and to tyres.
Spruce up the interior, too. Removing all of your clutter and rubbish and giving it a good vacuum and wipe-down is the minimum required; try using a pair of large tweezers or barbecue tongs to reach raisins and stickers lost in nooks and crannies. Dog owners will need to remove any evidence of dog hairs.
You may also want to rejuvenate plastic surfaces with a dedicated spray. To remove dust from the dashboard, wear a pair of pharmaceutical cotton gloves and use your fingers to wipe the surfaces clean.
The lazy way
If you can't be bothered to clean the car yourself, get it done by a valet company. You could spend between £10 and £50, depending on the service, but if you sell the car quickly as a result, you'll save the cost of having to re-advertise it.
The extra mile
Changing the oil will give a particularly good impression but it’s not the most straightforward (or important) job, so unless you’re a DIY freak you might want to delegate this task to someone else if you think it’s worth doing.
Covering up stone chips with touch-up paint is cheap and easy.
Dents and scratches
These are worth removing from nearly new cars, but generally they’re to be expected on older vehicles so you’re unlikely to recover the cost of getting them put right. Dealers, in particular, won’t bat an eyelid at the odd dink as they can get any obvious ones repaired in their own bodyshop.
Collect together all the relevant paperwork for your car, including the V5C registration document, servicing schedule and MOT certificate. If you have receipts for work done on your car, so much the better – it'll show that you've attended to problems as necessary, and that you’re particular enough to retain the evidence.
The used car market isn't as seasonal as it used to be but you'll still make the most on a convertible in the summer and get the best price for an off-roader as winter draws in.