Should I repair my car before selling it?

Choosing to trade in your current car for a new one is a big decision. As such, you should ensure you are making the best decision that benefits you. The process of trading in a used car is quite transparent, and it could also help you in saving up for a new car.

Whether you are trading in your car on a new one or selling it directly to the dealership without purchasing another car, paying attention to specific details on it ensures you receive the best price for your vehicle.

However, keep in mind that major car problems are best fixed by the pros – as they can get it repaired for less. Here are some tips that can come in handy when trading in your car.

Is it worth detailing my car before selling it?

what you should do before selling your vehicle

First impressions are everything- especially when selling cars. If you want to sell your car for the best possible value, you have to ensure that it looks good both in the interior and on the exterior. The detailing of your car ensures there are no imperfections visible on or in your car.

Detailing your car is crucial when selling a vehicle. It requires a lot of time, but it is well worth it. Here are some tips on how to thoroughly detail your car before trading it in.

Thoroughly inspect your car

Ensure you carefully inspect your car under direct sunshine or a bright light to enable you to see all the imperfections and repairs the vehicle requires. From chipped paint to scratches to dull patches to cracks, do not assume anything.

Write down all the things to be done on your vehicle and weigh out which ones you can do yourself. Take the vehicle out for a test drive while paying attention to anything that does feel or sound right. Making sure your car makes the best first impression on your dealer ensures you receive the best offer.

Clean the exterior and the interior

cleaning your car before selling it

In showrooms, all cars present are usually sparkling clean. Dealers know that even a clunker puff can look like a cream puff after a decent rub down. Thoroughly clean your vehicle, without overlooking anything, by vacuuming your interior, hand-washing your seats and exterior, not forgetting to wax the surface.

Shining up old tires, steam cleaning the engine and polishing chrome surfaces all end up working for your benefit in the end. Get rid of unnecessary odors in the vehicle as it could be a reason to lower the vehicle’s selling value.

Maintenance records and inspection reports should be in the owner’s manual

Nothing is as important as having a transparent paper trail about your vehicle when it comes to trading it in. It saves up on time and establishes a sense of trust between the dealer and the owner of the vehicle. For some customers, it is better to have spotless maintenance records than a spotless driver seat.

Assemble your entire vehicle’s paperwork that will prove your ownership. If you cannot locate the vehicle’s title, consult your local DMV before the sale. Find out what are the sale and transfer requirements in your state, to ensure the transaction is recognized.

Refill and change fluids

Check on the status of the oil, brake fluid, radiator, transmission fluid, and windshield washer reservoir and refill or replace the fluids. To get your asking price, you have to ensure your vehicle is in mint condition. Lack of refilling or changing such fluids make the dealer question the maintenance of your car, leading to a reduction in your trade-in value.

Clean foggy headlights and replace headlamps

clean or replace the headlights

Bulbs are inexpensive and easy to access at any auto parts store. Check all your lights and replace bulbs that have gone out. Clean the lenses of foggy headlights and pay to buff them out. You can also buff them yourself by using whitening toothpaste on the lens cover and a clean rug. Rinse it off with water and allow it to air-dry for the best results.

Repair or replace your windshield

As you fill in the washer fluid, make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. If they are not in their best shape, buy a new pair, and install them yourself. On the other hand, auto parts stores usually replace wipers at no cost, provided you purchase them from their store.

Touch up on your vehicle’s paint job

Sometimes, this step is unnecessary, as some scratches and dings are too minor or trying to cover them up could make it worse. If you can manage to touch up your vehicle’s paint job, purchase touch-up paint in your local store and color up the dinged spots. Touch-up paint costs about $20 on online selling platforms.


Do not stress your bank account on significant car repairs before trading it in. The dealership where you are trading it in have many connections in the industry, leave the heavy lifting to them. Furthermore, they will probably spend less than if you are the one handling these major repairs.

Things, like repairing a broken air conditioner and replacing worn-out tires, are best left to the dealers. Taking the time to thoroughly clean your vehicle, replace some bulbs, and refill some fluids could make all the difference when trading in your vehicle.

Leave a Comment