We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

sell your car

Selling your car? Here's how to get started

Follow our tips to get your car ready for sale and increase its value.

ARE YOU SELLING your car or are thinking about trading it in? Well, there are a few things you can do to make your car worth more. Not only that, but these tips will make your car look more attractive to buyers so that they hand the cash over to you and not another seller.

Shutterstock / corlaffra Shutterstock / corlaffra / corlaffra

Let’s start with the outside

The exterior of the car is the first thing that the buyer sees so you want to make an excellent first impression. At the very least the car should have gone through a car wash that day; however, even better is to roll up your sleeves and hand wash the car. You can buy car cleaning kits for around €25.

Shutterstock / Kirakos Shutterstock / Kirakos / Kirakos

Wear and tear are expected but dents in the bodywork and bumpers are a big no no. Fixing dents can add an average of 15% back on to the value of cars. There are plenty of hacks around for DIY dent fixing but big dents are better off in the hands of professionals, which can cost around €50 – €150.

Shutterstock / ignatius 63 Shutterstock / ignatius 63 / ignatius 63

The same can be said for big scratches, you can do some DIY touch-ups but if you aren’t confident or the scratch is deep or big you should leave it to the professionals.

Wheels and tyres should be cleaned and if you have wheel trims, buy a new set, you can pick them up for around €20.

Shiny tyres look great and you can pick you some great products for making tyres look almost new for less than €8.

Shutterstock / Pakpoom Phummee Shutterstock / Pakpoom Phummee / Pakpoom Phummee

On to the inside

Getting the interior looking its best is also important as this is where the driver is going to spend most of their time. Treat your car like it was going in for its NCT and take out all personal belongings and empty all the door bins, ashtray and glovebox. Look under the seats and make sure there is nothing under there.

Vacuum the inside – the floors, the seats and the boot – do this before you clean hard surfaces as vacuuming can kick up dust.

Shutterstock / Aquarimage Shutterstock / Aquarimage / Aquarimage

Give the seats and carpets a good clean with a specialist product or baking soda, but don’t soak the seats as they can take ages to dry.

If you don’t have any car mats and the carpet is looking worse for wear you can buy a set for €15 or less and they can really make a difference.

However, you can save yourself time, hassle and money by getting a professional valet. A full valet can cost from €50 – 150 and it can add quite a lot to the value of your car. Karen Quinn, product manager at Halfords says that getting the professionals in for a full exterior and interior valet could see “up to £1,000 of added value, depending on the original condition of the car.” This is echoed in Ireland with a valet adding up to €1,000 to the value of your car. That’s a lot of money. That’s a holiday.

Shutterstock / WathanyuSowong Shutterstock / WathanyuSowong / WathanyuSowong

However, there is a limit to the amount of money you should spend on your car when getting ready to sell it and that limit appears to be about €250 – €300. According to Paul Normyle, founder of vehicle preparation service Shine, it is at this point where “the cost might begin to eat into what you get back. What any buyer wants to see is something that looks as though it’s been cared for,” but they’re not expecting perfection.

So, be realistic about non-essential repairs. They could cost more than the value they would add to the sale.

Don’t forget the electrics

Next, you should check the electricals and make sure they are in working order including all exterior and interior lights, wipers, electric mirrors and windows, radio switches, air-con, 12v, USB and AUX sockets, etc. Bulbs and fuses are cheap and easy to replace and many garages and car specialist shops will fit them for a small fee or sometimes free.

The mechanicals matter too

If you have any warning lights on your dashboard have them address before potential buyers come and look at the car. This could be as simple as topping up all fluids so warning lights don’t come on or it may mean taking your car to a mechanic to get more serious mechanical issues looked at. Again, think about the value these repairs will add to your car and how much easier they will make it to sell your car.

If your car is coming up on its NCT consider getting a new one. A 12-month NCT is attractive to buyers and will give your advert extra clout over similar adverts.

Shutterstock / fotoknips Shutterstock / fotoknips / fotoknips

A clean, well-maintained car is not just appealing to buyers but it puts you in a strong selling position. If you come across any minor problems or damage it’s worthwhile getting them fixed as any obvious problem will give buyers an opportunity to try and get the price down.

Paperwork is important

Getting all paperwork in order is also a good idea. Invoices for work carried out, NCT reports and service history documents all show buyers that your car has been well looked after.

Showing potential buyers the vehicle registration certificate is also a good idea as it will let them know that all paperwork is in order and ready to go once the sale has been finalised. It also shows transparency, again, all good things to do to put the buyer at ease and make your position as seller stronger.

If you have the owner’s manual put it in the car. Every little helps.

Now that your car is in tip-top condition and clean take loads of photographs of it for your adverts.

READ: Mercedes safety feature prepares your ears for a crash >

READ: Road trip routes – National Parks USA >