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Preparing Your Car for Private Sale

As convenient as car dealerships are, there’s one very good reason why people chose to sell their cars privately: finance. While dealerships might promise attractive-sounding trade-ins on new cars, they won’t ever offer the full value of an equivalent private sale, and that’s because they’ve got pay their staff to sell your car to someone else later down the track. For that reason, they’re going to have to undercut you to tack on profit margin.

Don’t be wooed by fancy extras with your new car, such as a fancy warranty, security check, car inspection, payment options etc - you’ll get much more money selling privately, which is a pretty big incentive for those that are willing to put in the effort.

When it comes to sales, though, we understand many people are turned off by the process. Not everyone is a natural born salesman. But don’t sweat it, you don’t have to be! Even if you don’t have the “gift of the gab”, we’ve got you covered with some essential tips that will help the car do the talking. Here’s a checklist of must-do car preparations before floating your car onto the second-hand market.


Plan Ahead

Ultimately, planning ahead is the key to a smooth second-hand sale. Even if you’re not quite ready just yet but you’re thinking about selling your car somewhere down the line, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

  • Make sure you keep hold of your documentation. A car’s paper trail is its history, so keep all associated records and manuals in a safe place.
  • Don’t skimp on maintenance. Follow the recommended service procedures as stipulated in the owner’s manual. Demonstrating that you’ve followed the manufacturer's guidelines suggests that you take an active interest and responsibility in the car's operation.
  • Drive the car as if you’re selling it tomorrow. You don’t have to be overly pedantic, but ensuring that you treat your car gently means that you’ll be able to claim its condition is excellent with the utmost confidence.


Beauty’s In the Eye of the Beholder

Regardless of whether you’re selling privately, part-exchanging at a dealer or auctioning your car, your main priority is to maximize its value. To achieve this, you must make your car as attractive as possible to buyers while minimizing any flaws they can use to drive the price down. With just a little effort, you can give your car the extra buyer-appeal, attracting the best possible price. Consider doing the following:

An air freshener might make the interior of your car smell more appealing. If you don’t have the time to clean it yourself, invest in a full car valet service clean your car thoroughly inside and out – a clean car makes the buyer believe the car has been looked after and cherished. If you spend three hours cleaning your car and this adds $100 to its value, you’ll have earned yourself $33 an hour for the work.

Additionally, if there are any repairs or imperfections that need attention, put in the effort to get them sorted. A stone chip on one of your wheels, a ripped interior mat, a dent in the bumper; minor repairs makes a big difference to a buyer's overall impression of both the car and your enthusiasm to maintain it.


A Picture Tells A Thousand Words

These days, most private sales are conducted online, and that means you’re afforded the opportunity to feature several photos, so make sure you use them wisely. Get a good camera and take the car on location to get an attractive shot. There’s no need to go overboard, but having a nice backdrop as the thumbnail image for your advert can make a big difference in making the car stand apart from the rest. Consider parking the (clean) car on grass and snap your pics on a sunny day.

Other than the main feature image, be sure to take shots that show off the car’s best angle and features. For example, if you’re selling a station wagon, take a snap that makes it look pretty, but you’ll also want to advertise its trunk space and interior size. You could demonstrate trunk capacity by showcasing its ability to carry a set of golf clubs. 

Don’t forget to include shots of more mechanical components. Tires aren’t cheap - does your car have plenty of tread? If so, then that’s an attractive addition, so be sure to get a shot of the rims and tires to showcase the feature. Or, has there been something reconditioned or recently replaced on your car? If you’ve mentioned that in the advertisement, it’s probably a good idea to plug it with a photo.


Get It Together

When it comes to selling a car, paperwork is a big deal. Make sure you’ve got all of the car’s documentation, records, owner’s manual, any car or replacement part warranty etc. This is your proof of maintenance to show a potential buyer and it’s going to be crucial in legitimizing your claims of its condition.

Remember, people are always impressed by organization and they are equally unimpressed with individuals who haven’t taken the care to present necessary information.


Double Check the Basics

Before anyone comes to view your car, conduct a 4 point check to ensure these basics are covered. 

  • Make sure the tires are correctly inflated.
  • Check the oil, coolant and brake fluid levels.
  • Check the basic electrics. For instance, are all the lamps working?
  • Make sure there is a spare tire and it has the minimum legal tread depth

Even an individual with only the most basic understanding of a car’s mechanical action is likely to go over these, so don’t assume they’re in order - always check!

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