How to prepare your car for sale

With just a little work and attention to detail, you can add hundreds of pounds to your car’s value when you sell it. Read our tried and tested tips for making your car as attractive as possible to prospective buyers.

Maximising your car’s value


With newer or more expensive cars, bodywork repairs can really add value when you’re selling on. With an older car, however, you might not recover the costs involved.

Whether you’re selling privately, part-exchanging at a dealer or auctioning your car, your aim is to maximise its value. To achieve this, you must make your car as attractive as possible to prospective buyers while minimising any flaws they can use to drive down your price.

With just a little effort, you can give your car the extra buyer-appeal that will attract the best possible price. Here’s what you need to do:

Deep clean your car

  • 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.
  • If you don’t have the time to clean it yourself, invest in a full car valet service.
  • An air freshener might make the interior of your car more appealing.

Check the essentials

  • Check the oil, coolant and brake fluid levels.
  • Make sure the tyres are correctly inflated.
  • Check the basic electrics. For instance, are all the lamps working?
  • Make sure there is a spare tyre and that it has the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm across its width. This can easily be done with a 20p coin – watch the video on the First Time Driver websiteopens in new window.

Minor repairs that make a big difference

  • Consider touching up chips and scratches – either professionally or yourself if you’ve got the know-how.
  • It may also be worthwhile repairing any damage to alloy wheels.
  • A cheap new set of car mats can help smarten up an older car.
  • Small windscreen chips can usually be repaired under your car insurance at no cost, and with no effect on your no-claims discount.

Adding extra value

  • If your car is coming up for its MOT, consider getting a new one now. A new 12-month MOT certificate is attractive to buyers.
  • A full service history shows a buyer that your car has been well maintained, so it’s well worth digging out all those old receipts.

Your next step

Once you’ve spruced up your car, brush up your negotiating skills as well – then you’ll be all set to sell it for the best possible price.