6 Important Things You Should Do Before You Sell Your Car

Sell Your Car

Selling your car isn’t always an easy task. There’s planning and effort that has to go into it before the final documents are signed and the keys are turned over to the new owner (or the dealership), so it’s important to do everything the right way. Unless you’re a pro at selling cars, you probably need some guidance on what needs to be done.

There’s more to selling your car than you might think, but that’s not something that should make you feel overwhelmed. Getting everything ready is just a matter of being organized and making sure you have all the boxes checked. Putting in some research to make sure things go smoothly will go a long way toward relieving any stress related to selling your car.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you’re in the right place. There are some important things to focus on and take care of before the final sale. With that in mind, here are six important things you should do before you sell your car.

1. Clean, Clean, Clean (And Then Clean Some More)

This is probably something you were already planning to do to some degree but the point is, just removing your old stuff and trash doesn’t do the trick. You really need to clean the car extremely well. A clean car sells faster and sometimes even gets you a little more money because buyers just think it looks like it’s worth more.

Clean every little area of the car. Use cleaning wipes to scrub every surface; vacuum the mats, under the seats, and the seats themselves. You can also use a shop vacuum to get in between the seats or other crevices to really make sure you’re getting out all that grime.

Don’t forget to wipe down surfaces like the steering wheel and turn signal. Anything you touch often needs a little extra love to look as new as possible. You’ll also want to make sure your windows are spotless and the windshield is clean and crack-free.

While you’re cleaning, don’t forget those hidden areas like your trunk and glove box. The point of this tip is just to make sure the car leaves nothing for the buyer to visually be turned off by. You only have one chance to impress the buyer with their first glance at your vehicle. Don’t let them have the advantage of finding one tiny surface imperfection.

2. Get It All Together

If you have service records make sure you have them handy. You’ll also want to have any records of the manufacturer’s warranty fixes that have been taken care of. Make sure your oil change sticker is up-to-date. Keep in mind that buyers want to see that your car has been well cared for. If they have questions about who serviced your car, be ready to provide that information too.

If the car has had aftermarket adjustments made, like window tinting, be ready to provide information on that with documents or state where it was done. Some states have laws about how dark a window can be tinted so a potential buyer may want to check with your detail shop to see what they did and if the car is street legal.

As long as you have everything together and ready to go, there shouldn’t be any hiccups to this part of the process. In addition to your service records, don’t forget that you’ll want to make sure you have your title and that it’s free and clear if you’re selling to an individual buyer.

Also, make sure to look into how your state handles license plates. Some states have “forever plates,” meaning you’ll need to remove those before the car is given to the new owner, as they’re under your name no matter which vehicle you drive.

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3. Handle Any Small Repairs

If you have a headlight out, go ahead and fix that. If there are other small things you can fix, do that too. Again, it’s about making your car as appealing as possible to a potential buyer. If they look at your car and see something they’re going to have to fix (no matter how small), it’s not going to be as appealing to them.

If there’s anything you’ve been putting off taking care of, fix it before you sell your car. It’s probably something you’ve grown accustomed to, but a new buyer is going to see small imperfections with fresh eyes. Try not to let them use that as a reason to buy a different car instead.

4. Make Sure You Have All The Extras

If your car has extra keys or other upgrades, like a built-in DVD player, make sure you have those ready for the new buyer. You can’t count them as features to increase the sales price if you aren’t willing to actually include them when you sell the car.

You might want to think for a few minutes about anything you’ve had upgraded to make sure you’re including everything. If you’ve gotten used to something over a period of time, you may forget it wasn’t a standard feature of the car when you bought it. When potential buyers show up to look at your car, make sure those extras are all where they should be and displayed as nicely as possible.

5. Know Your Car’s Value

Don’t go into this blindly. You can research the value of your car on sites. You’ll be able to enter in factors like the condition of the vehicle, upgrades the vehicle has, and mileage, among other things. KBB will give you a value range that fits your car’s description so you have an idea of what a reasonable asking price is.

6. Get Your Bill Of Sale Ready

You can fill out most of the information on the bill of sale before you actually sell the car. Although you’ll want to leave the mileage count and buyer information blank until the sale is actually final, anything you can fill out in advance is a good idea. It will save you some time and ensure you have the chance to be as methodical as possible.

One important thing to note on the bill of sale is that you are selling the car “as is,” so you don’t have a buyer coming back to you expecting repairs to be handled. If it’s not in writing, it could be a hassle later, so make sure that “as is” section is filled out and the buyer is aware of the condition of the as-is sale as well.


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If you keep these preparation tips in mind as you get ready to sell your car, you’ll find that the experience is much more buyer- and seller-friendly. You’ll know what you’re doing and your buyer will appreciate the effort you took to make sure everything was done well. It might be a little stressful but as long as you’re organized and everything is in writing, you’ll be all set to say goodbye to your old car once those papers are signed.