Whether it’s selling your used car for the most you can get or just tooling around and waiting for that final ride into the sunset, I’ll show you how to get the most for your money out of your car.
The first impression you make when you try to sell your car is important, the buyer will be more impressed with your car if it is clean and in good shape. If you want to keep your vehicle for years in good working order, regular cleaning and a little preventive maintenance will make it last that much longer.
Something that I learned in the military is not about weapons or combat. I also learned how to take care of high tech equipment and gadgets that the military use on a day to day basis. Not only the equipment used for nuclear weapons and high speed aircraft, but the cars, trucks and everyday things like computers and office equipment. I learned that everyday maintenance and cleaning can have a big impact on proper operation and life expectancy of your car as well.
Lets start inside, clean the carpet, seats and under them.
You can take your car to a car wash and use their vacuums to clean out the interior. Or if you have a vacuum with a hose use that. If the carpets or seats are especially dirty or have stains you can use a rinse and vac on them. You can rent one with an attachment for couches and such and get some of that indoor spring cleaning done in the house at the same time.
The door frames, dashboard and any place you can get to with a wash cloth is a place that dirt and dust don’t need to be. This may all sound nitpicking but studies have shown that a car really will last longer if it’s kept clean. Rust will have a harder time establishing itself on your car if you wash regularly.
Clean all surfaces that you can reach, even if you need to use cotton swabs. Clean off the glass, chrome and such with cleaners recommended for these.
Check in all the cubby holes and take out any thing you can like the ashtrays and such. Vacuum them out and get all those little pieces of garbage you can find. When purchasing a car or especially selling one to a dealer or trading one in, small things like garbage and things left behind make a difference on the whole picture about how much work will have to go into the car after it has been taken over by the dealer. The less work they have to do on it, the more you’ll get in cash for it.
You can run your car through a car wash, this gets the major dirt and grime off, especially under the car. But you should also do some of the work yourself, cleaning around the grill and fenders. In the wheel wells and around the hubcaps where things like leaves and rocks can accumulate. Get on your hands and knees and check out under the car, look for things hanging down, loose clamps and such on the exhaust system can also be looked for and fixed.
Next check under the hood. Check for oil and spilled fluids from operation and maintenance of your vehicle. And if you do your own work on your car and spill something, don’t wait until it burns off after a spill. Clean it up when you spill it. If you notice leaks in your engine compartment get them taken care of when you can. If it’s just a matter of tightening down something, you will save money from lost fluids and prevent damage to parts that require those fluids for proper operation. The engine compartment does not have to be spotless, but it should also not have clumps of leaves, large spills of oil and puddles of fluids in those odd places.
When you have the oil changed, also have the grease fittings under the car in your suspension added to. This prevents wear and tear on the parts and should not cost you much more, if anything. When you do get your oil changed it should be at the recommended intervals of the car owners manual. You can have a check of fluids and an inspection when you do this. If they tell you anything that they found that requires fixing on your car, or if you find anything yourself that needs to be done, do it. Don’t wait until you have a list of things to do and have them all taken care of at once. When something, even as small as a loose screw on a door panel happens, fix it or get it fixed. This will save further damage in the future and prevent more problems.
If there are small nicks and chips of paint missing from the car, you should fix them before they get worse. You can buy small bottles of repair paint from your dealer or a local car parts store. The color to match your vehicle will be needed and found in your car’s information manual or on a sticker somewhere on the vehicle. Try the following locations: inside the drivers door frame, inside the passenger side cubbyhole compartment, under the hood on the supports, or on the underside of the hood. Many times a code is on one of these stickers to identify what the paint code is for your car.
When you have the car repaired, do it at a reputable place, ask friends and neighbors, coworkers and even check out the internet for recommendations. If you type in “bbb” into your internet search engine or MSN it will take you to the Better Business Bureau’s home page. You can then go to their Business Reliability section and enter a business you are thinking of using for your repair shop and see if they have any complaints lodged against them. This will tell you how reputable they really are. If there are complaints against them go elsewhere.
When it comes time to sell your car, you can find out how much it’s worth by several methods. One is the Kelley Blue Book Value. Go to http://www.kbb.com/. This is a standard of pricing in the automotive industry to find the value of used and new vehicles. This is a great resource for not only used cars but new ones in that you can see what the value of your vehicle is when you drive it off the lot. This is what your insurance company will go by if a claim is made on your vehicle. Not the sticker price.
There is a wide variety of information and helpful hints on the Kelley Blue Book website for vehicles. They have a wide variety of hints and helps in buying and selling vehicles and is a good source of rebates, sales, and reviews on new vehicles.
Another source to find out the value of your vehicle and some useful tips is from NADA guides. They are here: http://www.nadaguides.com . They have information on new and used vehicles tips, hints and reviews.
After cleaning and washing things, you should check over the car and make sure that everything works correctly. I mean that you should go through the car and open all the doors, check all the panels and tighten any loose screws, grease any squeaky hinges. Make sure everything works so that you know in advance what is wrong with even the smallest things. When you show off your car to sell it, nothing should happen that is a surprise to you when the prospective buyer looks at the car. You should know what is wrong and be prepared to answer questions about it.
Take the car for a test drive and see what you think about how the car handles from the perspective of a buyer. Put yourself in the place of the buyer and think of questions you would ask if you were looking at buying. You should be able to tell the buyer everything that is wrong with your car before he asks or finds it.
With some simple and prompt attention your car will last longer. And if or when you try to sell it, you will get more for it by keeping up appearances as well as the important maintenance and repairs.