Preparing a used car for sale

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
I'm often amazed, going to car auctions, how people could have earned themselves hundreds, possibly thousands of extra dollars by doing the minimal detailing and fixing up of their cars prior to sale.

There are theories (which I believe more or less) that a person makes up their mind, or at least leans very heavily toward a purchase of a used car, within the first 30 seconds of seeing it.

First thing they do is look at it, so it should look good on the outside. Second thing they do is sit in it, so a nice big hole in the front seat or a lousy smell...well, that has just about killed the deal.

Oddly enough, I think the mechanical preparation is the least important (presuming the car will start and is safe, of course.).

You can sell a pretty and clean car with a bad radio and non-working a/c a LOT easier than a car with a great radio and cold a/c but with a torn-up interior and dull paint job.


  • rooba10rooba10 Member Posts: 38
    I would like to start this subject because I have sold so many used cars to the first person that looked at my cars, no matter what I owned. I have never ever traded my used cars while buying new cars. The dealer wanted to give us $2000 for our 89 Mazda MPV in 97 with 155K miles, I put it in the paper, and sold it for $5,500 to the first person that looked at it. I still see the van with 210K miles, and the owner is as happy as he can be with the van.

    I would appreciate other people's comments about their sucess about their car selling experience.

    Clean engines sell cars fast. Beside taking care of the washing the outside, and keeping the interior clean, Try to degrease the engine once every three months to keep oil and road salt off the engine. Buy an engine degreaser for $1-2, and wash the engine in those coin carwash places. You can do it right after your oil changes.

    Believe me clean engines say a lot about how you take care of your car. Also, an engine that is only cleaned for sale is not the same. You can always tell when siliconed sprayed plastic parts are next to rusty brake line, clamp screws, or leaky gaskets.
  • kinleykinley Member Posts: 854
    sale price does not deserve the dealer;used car lot price as the owner does not have the operating expenses of a professional dealer. In other words a private seller would do well to price his product under what the pros price it. The lower price represents 'no after sale service, no used car guarantee, no turn back in after 24 hours, no help in financing, just a bare butt sale, period. Comments in previous posts are agreed with 100% as you never get a second chance of a first impression.
  • whackowhacko Member Posts: 96
    Prepare to cheat, lie and steal. Go over your stories over and over until you memorize them. For example: "The car was repainted because the original paint was oxidizing." In other words, don't tell them that you had to repaint the car because you got in a mean wreck and that it was nearly totaled. Even be pathological; it will help if you actually believe your lies. You'll sound more convincing. Remember, the more convincing you are with your lies, the better your chances of selling your car.
  • rooba10rooba10 Member Posts: 38
    I don't know where your attitude is coming from. Maybe someone sold your their lemon!! and that is why your are bitter. I have had good luck selling and buying used cars for a while. In fact, our '97 Dodge Caraven will be the last new vehicle we will be purchasing. I still see three of the people that I sold my cars to, and they are very happy with what they bought.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Whacko chose his username well!

    I agree with everything EXCEPT cleaning your engine. If you insist on doing this, be VERY careful. Many of today's cars are pretty intolerant of having high pressure water sprayed on the engine.

    If may run poorly afterwards. for some reason, Toyotas are especially affected by this.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Most computer sensor circuits run on 5 volts and don't like moisture or high resistance in their wiring harness connectors. The connectors have enviromental seals which usually do a good job of keeping the atmosphere out, but a high pressure spray can force water past them.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I have used various systems for cleaning an is to put a vinyl cloth under the engine (to keep pollutants from entering the ground)...then I use a GUNK product on a warm engine, which I wash off with a LOW pressure hose, being careful to avoid direct intervention into the alternator or other obviously NO-NO spots....then I use hot soapy water and a stiff brush (like a long stem parts brush) to clean off the residue GUNK, etc. Armorall can shine up the hoses, and often a clear laquer spray can can add luster to plastic parts that have dulled (not on high-heat parts, however). I haven't had any problems with this system, and the job comes out very nice.
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