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Earn more when selling a car

Updated on July 28, 2014

Start with a clean interior

Although this might seem quite obvious you would be surprised with the amount of times I've seen people trying to sell cars with the nastiest interiors, they will usually try to excuse themselves by saying that everything works perfectly, but lets be honest if you are like me, you want to invite people to ride with you.

Imagine this: the girl or boy you have a crush on had a mechanical problem with her/his car and it's in the shop, in a conversation with you they mention that they want to hitch a ride. This seems like the perfect time for offering but, wouldn't it be embarrassing to invite them to ride in that beer-smelling-pet-hair-covered thing? Well guess what: Any buyer who has insight will think of this and will immediately start bargaining because of the extra amount of work/time needed to get this car looking and smelling decent.

There are many great products today (some of them you can get at a dollar store) that will help you clean all the way from your dashboard to your seats and carpet, and leave it smelling and looking like a brand new car, don't forget the door inside covers and of course start with a vacuum cleaner. Additionally you can use a silicon based product to shine up your plastic parts.

A clean engine bay will give your car a newer better taken care of look, make sure to pop that hood every time you show your car to a possible buyer.
A clean engine bay will give your car a newer better taken care of look, make sure to pop that hood every time you show your car to a possible buyer.

A clean engine bay

This is a must! the results will speak for themselves and it will show that you've always taken the best care of your car (which obviously you have done, right?). Make sure your engine is cold when doing this as you don't want water and your detergent cleaner to evaporate too quickly. If your air intake filter is exposed you should wrap it with a bag. Also, take a good lock at all the cables before starting ,make sure they're in good shape and don't have any copper showing if they aren't looking that good just be sure to avoid wetting that area (and make sure you get that fixed ASAP).

Start by cleaning the under-hood, you can use an old broom (it will also be useful with the engine) use a bucket with water and lots of soap, soak in your broom and start brushing, after you're done soaping rinse with a hose before the soap sticks, now let the water sink down for a few minutes.

You are ready to start cleaning your engine and surrounding parts, all you need is some Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner (the kind that comes in a sprayer bottle). Spray you engine really good with it, make sure to get it everywhere in the engine bay, this cleaner is really powerful (and a little harsh on the paint) so after you´re done spraying, make sure to rinse any over spray that's on your fenders, front bumper and headlights. Let the Simple Green Cleaner sit there for about 5 minutes and start brushing (remove the brush from the broom stick and use that to brush wherever you can). After you are done rinse with some pressure, take a good look, if it is the first time you do this to your car it might take a second round to get it perfect.


Do this at your own risk, the following technique is not guaranteed to work with every car, however it will work on 90% of vehicles made after 1990. Before taking any action read this guide thoroughly and make sure you understand every step, if you have any questions I will be around to answer so go ahead and ask.

A clean interior will be very inviting, buyers will fall in love allowing you to ask for more money for your car
A clean interior will be very inviting, buyers will fall in love allowing you to ask for more money for your car
A well done buff job will get even old paint looking amazing.
A well done buff job will get even old paint looking amazing.

Next: Give it some polish.

In my experience in the automotive industry, one of the top things you can do to enhance any car's appearance is a buff job, there are many different approaches to this and you will have to decide which one works best for you depending on the current state of your paint job and how far you want to take it. I could write an article on that topic by itself (as a matter of fact expect one soon), so here I will simply tell you what your options are so you can chose one and then act on it.

Option 1: Take it to a Paint/Detail shop.

While this is the easiest option in the sense that you don't have to move a finger, except to drive to and from the shop. There are many downsides to this approach however, first of all it is kind of expensive (or quite expensive depending on how you chose to look at it) an average shop will charge anywhere between 300-500 bucks per buff job, the more they charge the better job you can expect (at least that's how it should be), however if you don't have an expert eye you might end up paying a lot for a less than average job which is the second downside, no one will be as thorough and as careful with your car as yourself (with some exceptions).

Option 2: Have a friend or acquaintance do it.

This is the intermediate option, if you have a friend who says he/she can do the job thoroughly and you trust them you might give it a shot, usually an individual will do the same work as a shop for a fraction of the cost (they don't have to worry about a payroll and expensive shop bills, they'll be happy making a profit just for themselves) Make sure to be around to check how they're doing from time to time and if you're comfortable with it get them a drink and a snack (non alcohol preferably so they don't mess up).

Option 3: Do it yourself.

If you think you got what it takes to buff your own car (a day off, a lot of energy and the tools needed) you should definitely give it a shot, It is very rewarding and you will be sure it was done thoroughly. There are some tutorials on the web on how you can do this (did I mention I will be publishing one on Hubpages as well?). You will need a buffer tool and a clean buffing wool pad which you can probably just borrow from a friend or relative, or you can buy them, buffers start at about 69 bucks and a really nice wool pad will be around 29 bucks, it is still cheaper than getting it done at the shop (300-500 per buff job). You will also need a sanding squeegee, some sandpaper, rubbing compound, hand glaze, a hand glaze applier, and a micro fiber cloth. If you buy everything including the buffer you will spend about 150 bucks (+/- 50 bucks depending on the brands you choose), and you will have enough materials to do about three full buff jobs or more, and a sweet tool that will last you many years. Not too bad uh.

A nicely polished rim will look flashy and new, making your car look much better.
A nicely polished rim will look flashy and new, making your car look much better.

Sand and polish your rims.

Have you ever wondered why some cars look really flashy while some others look kinda dull even though they might be the same car model and even the same color? Well the answer might lay on the wheels. Some of the top selling aftermarket parts are rims and there's a reason for that, flashy rims give any car a totally enhanced overall look, but what we want here is to get the most money possible without spending much so buying rims might not be advisable, instead you can sand and polish the rims your car already has following the same process as the rest of the car (Except this time you will use your hand and a piece of cotton cloth along with the rubbing compound) You might think it's not worth it, but give it a shot, do only one wheel and stand back, you will see the difference and the possible buyer will too.

Although small, trims are very important they might make the difference between "alright" and PERFECT.
Although small, trims are very important they might make the difference between "alright" and PERFECT.

Trims and ornaments.

Make sure your car has all trims and ornaments, if there are some missing you can always get cheap replacements at a local junkyard or online stores to avoid excessive bargaining from your buyer, this is important if you want to get the best money possible, if your car looks perfect you can sell it as such.

Ready to go

Now that your car is looking this good you might be thinking, "Oh I don't want to sell it anymore" this is a plus since you will be psychologically valuing your car more than before, this will help you ask for a better price (for you) with much more confidence, remember it is your car and no one can say how much it is worth but you. Have confidence and some patience and you will find a buyer who appreciates your car as much as you do and will be willing to pay for it well.

Good luck!


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