Repairs Your Car Needs Before Selling

Quite often, you will get more money for selling your old car rather than trading it in. While that is generally true, your old car needs to be in good mechanical working order to attract a serious buyer. Here is what you need to know about fixing your old vehicle before selling it[AA1] .

Cosmetics and Curb Appeal

The first thing a potential buyer is going to notice is the car’s appearance. Many assume that if the car looks good, it is well cared for. Damaged body panels, scratched or faded paint, and ruined interiors lower buyer confidence.

Here are some things you can fix to make your car more visually appealing:

  • Paintless dent repairs can pop out minor dings in the body panels.
  • Secure loose trim pieces and plastic body panels.
  • Repair chips in the glass or replace cracked windshields.
  • A complete paint job often makes an old car more presentable.
  • Polish the paint and glass to make it shine.

Your car should be clean and free from odors and stains on the inside. A good detail job is often enough to correct most minor blemishes. At the very least, wash and wax the paint and shampoo the carpets and seats.

Engine and Drive Problems

Expect to demonstrate how the car performs. The buyer will want to see that it runs and that all mechanical components are working properly. New buyers often attempt to estimate the longevity of the vehicle based on the maintenance history and current condition of fluids. The engine should start right away and run smoothly. When checked, the fluids should also be clean and presentable.

  • Change the oil so it is fresh for the new owner.
  • Have other old fluids flushed such as the coolant or transmission fluid.
  • If there is an engine warning light on, have it inspected by a qualified technician.
  • Recharge or replace the battery so the engine has a strong start. 
  • Swap out old spark plugs and wires to the smooth out rough idling.
  • Make sure the air filter is clean.

It is difficult to sell a vehicle that is not running right. A misfire will cause the engine to run rough and set off the check engine light. The engine should also run without overheating. If the temperature gauge is getting too hot, you will need to have the cooling system inspected. Major problems are a turnoff to buyers, so have them repaired before you attempt to sell the car.

Ride Quality

If things have gone well up to this point, your buyer will also expect to test drive the car. Before the test drive, get your car out on the road and check for issues that could scare away a potential buyer. The tires, brakes, and alignment should all be presentable.

  • Install new matching tires if the old tires are worn out.
  • Inflate your tires to proper air pressure and have them balanced if they are causing vibrations.
  • Replace brake pads and rotors if the old equipment is making noise or vibrating.
  • Have the vehicle aligned if it is pulling to one side or if the steering wheel is crooked.
  • A new set of shocks can take care of excessive body roll or harsh riding conditions.
  • Get damaged control or steering components replaced that may cause a loss of steering.

A vehicle performs differently at varying speeds. An experienced shopper will insist on driving the car on the highway to get a feel for how it performs at faster speeds. Be sure your car is safe before agreeing to an extended test drive.

Finding Affordable Repairs

The little things also make a big difference. You can secure a deal by simply updating some small wear items. Every minor issue you solve before showing the car makes it easier to negotiate your price.

  • Install new wiper blades.
  • Replace any lights that have burned out.
  • Tighten up loose hardware that holds interior components together.
  • Lube door latches to smooth them out and eliminate rattling noises.
  • Secure the spare tire and the emergency road tools in the trunk.
  • Gather up loose wiring and bind it up with zip ties.

Do not attempt to hide a major problem with the car. While most used car sales are at the buyer’s risk, most reasonable people understand that a used car is not going to be perfect. As the seller, you should still want your car to be of sufficient quality. There are laws to protect consumers from outright fraud. If you know of an issue, disclose it.

At Sun Devil Auto, our service technicians can look your vehicle over for you before you list it. We can tell you what you will need to do to get it ready to impress. Contact one of our service centers for an appointment.


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