Adding value

We look at some of the jobs you can do to maximise your car’s sale price

It’s no secret that a clean car will sell faster than a dirty one. But if you think preparing a vehicle for sale requires no more than a bucket and sponge, it might be time to join our master class!

The proper pre-sale preparation of vehicles is an art in itself. It’s about peeling back the years of grime that inevitably gather, as well as fixing the smaller faults which can make an otherwise well maintained car look tired and neglected.

It makes no difference whether you’re offering your model to a bargain-hungry private buyer or trading it in at a picky dealer. By systematic­ally tackling dents, bumper scuffs, dull paintwork and scruffy interiors, you’ll not only sell it faster, you are likely to get more money, too. Here we look at some of the most important jobs to do.

With long waiting times at bodyshops, and the inconvenience of being without your car while work is carried out, it’s easy to see why most owners don’t bother with tidy-up work before they sell. However, SMART repairs (it’s short for small to medium area repair techniques) are a simple, convenient and usually far cheaper way of tackling localised problems than having whole panels resprayed. What’s more, most fixes can be done in half a day on your driveway.

The big question, though, is whether the work is worth the outlay. According to Phil New­stead, from Warwickshire-based mobile operator Dent Wizard, that depends on the car being sold.

“People expect a three-year-old for sale privately to look just as good as a car at a dealership, and if it doesn’t, they go and find a better example elsewhere or offer a low price,” he explained. “Lots of vendors put their nearly new vehicles up for sale without any preparation, and lose hundreds of pounds as a result.”

In fact, it’s cars which are only a couple of years old which can benefit most from SMART repairs. On an older model with 100,000-plus miles, spending lots of money simply doesn’t pay; there’s a cut-off point for every vehicle.

“From my experience of preparing cars prior to auction, a vendor gets £1.50 back for every £1 they spend on repairs,” said Phil. “So, instead of looking at the cost, see it as investing in a vehicle’s presentation to get the best return.”

Of course, there are many ways to improve a car’s appearance. But here, we list the ‘must-do’ jobs in order of priority to achieve the best price.

Click on the images to see how much each job influences your car's sale price.

Business sense

For motorists using company cars or tied to personal contract plans, the final checks when returning the vehicle can be financially painful.

Fleet operators don’t charge users for general wear and tear, but enforce a penalty for any scuffs and other minor damage. Inspection standards are tight, so having SMART repairs carried out in advance is often cost effective.

David Mercer, from Manheim Auctions, said: “If a company driver shells out £116 on SMART repairs, when the car is ‘defleeted’ and sent to auction, it will make £160-£200 more on average – which is good news for the fleet companies.”

Recommended

Delayed trailer test law changes come into force
Mitsubishi L200 - tow
News

Delayed trailer test law changes come into force

You no longer need to take an extra test to tow a trailer, irrespective of when you passed your driving test
17 Dec 2021
Cars you can drive at 16
Aixam Crossover
Buying advice

Cars you can drive at 16

Yes, you can drive a 'car' in the UK aged 16! Welcome to the quirky world of light quadricycles…
12 Nov 2021
How to buy an electric car
How to buy an electric car
Electric cars

How to buy an electric car

Buying an electric car can be easier than you think, we spoke to EV specialists to answer the most common EV related questions
9 Nov 2021
'The people have decided that Mercedes, BMW and Audi are no longer top-10 car brands'
Opinion - driver power
Opinion

'The people have decided that Mercedes, BMW and Audi are no longer top-10 car brands'

Mike Rutherford thinks the 2021 Driver Power survey shows changing attitudes towards premium cars
9 Aug 2021

Most Popular

Tipo 184: on the road in the Mazda MX-5 based kit car
Tipo 184 kit car front
Features

Tipo 184: on the road in the Mazda MX-5 based kit car

Inspired by classic Grand Prix racing cars, Darren Collins has created a model that faithfully recreates the originals, but with a twist - it’s actual…
11 May 2022
Best electric cars to buy 2022
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2022

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
28 Apr 2022
New Lucid Air 2022 review
Lucid Air - front tracking
Lucid Air

New Lucid Air 2022 review

Lucid's first model intends to make a lasting mark on the luxury EV market
13 May 2022