A clean car will always result in a higher sale price.
– Stefan Spargo, Founder of DRIVEWEST
If you are interested in selling your car privately, one of the most important things you can do to increase sale price is to properly clean your vehicle. A proper clean is much more than doing a wand wash! Here are the steps I recommend to get your vehicle ready for a private sale:
Step 1: Take everything out of vehicle except the owner’s manual and registration. And I mean everything. Check every square inch of the vehicle to make sure you don’t miss one thing.
Step 2: Clean the upholstery, and remove any spots.
Step 3: Clean the windows. That means cleaning both sides of the windows – not just the outside. Most people only clean the outside of the window without realizing there is a thin layer of film on the inside of their window which gives car a dingy look.
Step 4: Check and top up fluids, such as oil, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. This step indicates to a potential buyer that you’ve been taking good care of your car.
Step 5: Get rid of “the smell”. “What smell?” you ask. We have news for you: your car stinks. It stinks. The smell comes from kids, dogs, food spills, and any number of other factors. You actually won’t be able to truly understand the smell as you have become desensitized over time to it. But trust me, you car does not smell good. This can be a significant detractor for buyers.
Cigarette smoke odors can be overcome with a substantial amount of effort, however, if you smoke cigars in your vehicle, forget about selling your car. I’m not kidding.
To eliminate existing smells you must clean the vehicle’s interior thoroughly. Even when buying a used vehicle that appears clean, it is hard to tell what has gone on in the car’s past life. This is much more appealing to car buyers. Used cars purchased from dealers are almost always detailed and thoroughly cleaned before they are resold.
If your car stills smells bad after you clean it, it’s worth it to have it professionally cleaned. Professional detailers will check every nook, cranny, and compartment; vacuum the interior thoroughly; shampoo the floors, floor mats, and upholstery and clean surfaces with antibacterial disinfectant cleaners.
Once the vehicle has been completely cleaned, then, and only then, will car deodorizers and fresheners be effective.